Changing the world, one weekend at a time

Changing the world, one weekend at a time

Date: 24 July 2015

It’s so easy to get caught up in the day to day, especially in London where months slip away with little change. And then, from time to time, you step into the unknown and suddenly just three days away can have a profound effect.

I arrived in Hammersmith a week ago, with a curious friend in tow, both uncertain of what the weekend would hold. Six hours (including 40 minutes lost in Bristol) later, our coach took a tight turn to the right, squeezing through the entrance to Tapeley Park. Arriving in the grounds of this beautiful stately home, we each exclaimed at the vastness of the view. 

Take Back Our World festival was an escape, a retreat into the company of 100 diverse individuals, each with inspirational experiences and perspectives to share. The team from Global Justice Now and Students Against TTIP created a space that was open in all senses of the word. Starting with mass participation games and discussions of what brought us to be there, they nurtured an openness in the group that allowed for honest and thought-provoking debate throughout the weekend. As we explored our shared frustrations with the world and exchanged thoughts on how to face those challenges, we each learned something new and strengthened our resolve to change things.

There are many injustices in the world that I feel strongly about but have often failed at convincingly arguing against. Take Back Our World festival gave me the opportunity to change this. The whole weekend was packed with workshops run by engaging speakers, including Samir Dathi from Brick Lane Debates, Green MEP Molly Scott Cato and of course Nick Dearden from Global Justice Now. We heard eloquent explanations of how debt is used as a form of control and why it’s important we stand in solidarity with the Greeks. We were encouraged to take a step back to examine the far-reaching influence of neo-liberalism in today’s society, and the role we can play in challenging it. And plenty more besides. 

We were also given the chance to really get to know the people around us and what they stood for. I learnt as much from the other participants as I did through the speakers on the programme. And to top it all off, the evenings drew to a close with live music, ranging from local folk band Babelfish to Natural Curriculum, a hip hop group from Manchester. With the decks set up in the barn to follow, led by reggae selector Tudor Lion, the dance floor was occupied well into the early hours!

It’s been a jolt to be back in hectic London life since Monday but I’ve come home motivated to get active on issues that really matter. I’ve also come home with brilliant memories: of sitting under the Devon stars, in a circle of like-minded people, singing Santana to the accompaniment of three guitars and a ukulele. Of waking with the heat of the sun early on Saturday morning and taking a walk down a woodland path to a beautiful lily-padded pond. And of wandering through the Italian terraced gardens, reflecting on my life choices and my impact on the world. 

Take Back Our World festival taught me a lot last weekend, but it also reminded me why our world is worth taking back.


Photo credit: Ana Parra