Manchester Social Forum has booked Height Gate in Yorkshire to hold a gathering of forums and other interested people in the UK. People from Manchester Social Forum wanted to do this because we think the purpose of social forms is to act fundamentally as a networking tool where we can discuss, create and support action. We appreciate that other people who go to or are interested in the idea of Social Forums will probably have different ideas of what a Social Forum is and it might be good to talk together about that and probably a million other things too.
Some of us went to Sheffield, Nottingham and London and met other people who also thought it would be a good idea for people to get together and share experiences, ideas, creativity and imagination informally, outside of the usual meeting room environment. We need your help. We have decided so far that we want to keep the weekend as open as possible, so there is nothing planned beyond basic housekeeping at the moment. The role of Manchester Social Forum is simply to find the space and invite you to come. People are collectively responsible for the space and for deciding together what we should do with the time we have.
Information about Height Gate
Its a 17c farmhouse and barn up a steep one mile track from the road and parking is limited. It’s a brilliant place. It sleeps 30 in the house (2 wood burning stoves, and heaters in the bedrooms), 15 in the barn (unheated). Its got space to do things (four acres of pasture, but slopes badly so only room for about 4 tents. It’s a semi-derelict building brought back to life. Paths across the hills, wood, curlews, falcons. We all have to look after it and each other. If its cool, it will work out again, another time.
Initial Housekeeping Plans
Please add thoughts/comments/offers of help whatever
If You Need Help
We have tried to get a mini-bus with wheelchair access but have heard its booked for the weekend. It would be good to have the use of a van so we can take heavy luggage and transport basic foodstuffs up to the site. Can anyone with a van help out?
There is a downstairs bedroom in the house (NO BEDS), which is wheelchair accessible and the toilets and showers are also wheelchair accessible but please read the notes about the access track.
When We Get There
Friday Evening - 21st May We will let you know beforehand roughly what time we will be at the building (because we'll have the key). The housekeeping plans are what we have discussed so far.
Food that we cook together on Friday and Saturday night will be veggie basically because we think its easier as everyone can eat it (there are other good reasons too). We will use dairy products and do vegan food also. We will bring basic stuff up with us and it would be good if people would also bring food to share. Please help out with cooking, washing up, and looking after the house because we're not mum and dad and we don't like housework much. The basics of the two main evening meals on Friday and Saturday is included in the cost of the weekend.
We think £5 each will cover the accomodation and basic food/loo roll etc for the whole weekend. This is worked out assuming that 45 people come. If less people come, we will have a whipround and keep our fingers crossed. We don't have any more money than anyone else but we think it will work out ok. The actual cost of the building and land per night is £75. We promise not to make a profit and mutate into a huge multi-national corporation over the weekend :)
Children are welcome to come but we haven't got a creche or anything specific arranged unless people want to organise this themselves.
Dogs and other animals
Please don't bring dogs or other animals. We have to be firm about this because there are sheep and other animals near the building and it is a condition of us using the building that we don't bring animals onto the site. If you do, you can't stay.
This is a tricky one. We think we should say please don't smoke inside the house or barn. The reason is that some people really cannot be in smoky atmospheres for serious health reasons and if we don't ask you not to smoke inside then some people won't be able to come, which isn't on basically. The other alternative is to have a room for smoking somewhere in the house but we're not keen on that because smoke travels so same problem as above, and also it will separate people. Please smokers, help us out with this one because making people seriously ill when we are up a track in the hills is bad. I promise to bring a brolly so we can smoke outside if it rains :( If it doesn't theres four acres of land so we can sit outside and watch the sheep anyway.
Ideas For Things We Can Do
Anything as long as we look after the house and each other. We are not the organisers of what happens any more than you are if you come to this or to social forums anyway, but because we agreed to the very few rules about the building, we do feel responsible. We want to have a good time too and not be stressed. The only thing that is written in stone so far is no animals (which is for good reasons, (not least that the weekend will end very suddenly if we take them and the people who look after the house see this) and no smoking in the buildings and we've explained why we decided this. We think people will be cool and respect the site. We don't want to piss the Woodcraft people off who have let us use the building and land and we want it to work again, another time, if its good.
We are going to take up art stuff because you never know when it might be useful. If you think its a good idea and you want to do it, it'd be good if you could bring some too. I don't know what we can bring but we are thinking about it. Don't expect the contents of an art shop (unless you bring it yourself).
We think it would be good if people who do Indymedia would get something together so that people could know more about independent media. Maybe we could do some films also? Don't know really, but any indymedia people who want to do this (from anywhere not just manchester), please think about it and let us know. We hope people will come who are interested in the idea of networking together through various sources as a tool not only through social forums.
Bring music. If you can make it yourself, its brilliant.
The South Pennines are beautiful. There is a network of paths around the centre (including 'causey' paths - old trackhorse routes across the hills) and woods. There are curlews who will be nesting in the fields at Height Gate at the time when we are there and peregrine falcons also breed in the area.
Please add to this and let us know if you want to come. If you haven't been to anything like this before and you don't know people, neither have I and I don't know probably the majority of people who might come, so come anyway and we'll sort it.