A sleepy hi from Charlottesville, Virginia, where Amtrack brought me early this morning, en route to Twin Oaks Community.
Charlottesville is where the alt-right guy drove into the anti-racist protest killing one and injuring many, in August last year. I came here straight from Durham, North Carolina yesterday evening, where, the day after that violence in Charlottesville, protestors dragged down a confederate soldier Statue. This prompted the meme #DoItLikeDurham, a wave of other statues being removed around the country (usually by local councils) and a clamour for Durham activists to do a speaking tour. I'm fascinated by the cultural gulf between sections of society here and the rise of more public and militant anti-fascist, anti-racist action - really looking forward to exploring that further and thinking about whether alternative economic structures can in any way work to undermine hate or be more than a resilience mechanism for the left.
Last night's journey involved spending last night (from 7pm to 6am) in Greensboro, wandering around and then sleeping in the station. First I wandered into a theatre where there was some kind of dance competition, but only in time for inexplicable mass Frisbee throwing and endless awards. Then I got taken to a games arcade by some punky-looking women, where there was supposed to be a benefit gig for tornado-damaged communities (the weather here has been crazy the last week). But everything was free and there was no band yet, which didn't fit my definition of benefit or gig. I ended up working in a quiet craft beer pub, where I got a complimentary juice, power socket and Wi-Fi and could eat out of my Tupperware and listen to people playing cards against humanity. It was pretty good and someone else should go spend money there to make up for my lack of it!
My limited experience of wandering around on a Sunday night after practically everything is closed, indicates that the people of downtown Greensboro are very serious about craft beer, gender inclusivity, organics, the arts and yarn. Alongside the many shops with signs listing everyone they actively welcome, I also saw a 'No Republicans' sign - back to that gulf again. I'm slowly realising the impact that the Trump administration is making on communities: the fears that are being stoked, the increased need to express and act in solidarity with marginalised people and the scramble to resist division along demographic lines, which seems to me to be further entrenching divisions along political lines. It doesn't seem like a strategy for the long game.
My first week in the States was spent in Durham, mostly trying to get my act together (comprehensively covered in a previous post), but also trying to find out about the local coop and solidarity economy scene. Thanks to Emily Lippold-Cheney up in Minnesota, at the last minute I hooked up with Thomas Beckett from Carolina Common Enterprise and we spent about 4 hours drinking posh hot chocolate and geeking out over coop financing, community transformation, housing, gentrification, student coops, federations, coalitions and collectives.
I feel like i've just started scratching the surface of what's going on in North Carolina and I pretty much decided, in conversation with Thomas, to come back on my way down to Jackson in late June. We hatched plans for a get together with folks from Cooperation Durham after CommonBound and Another Carolina Anarchist Bookfair - let's see where the synergies take us :-)