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A tale of two protests

I was at two different protests recently. Both were in the middle of Cardiff, and both at points were on exactly the same routes. One was a protests, organised by the Cardiff People's Assembly, protesting the cost of living crisis. The other was a procession between two Anglican churches in Cardiff as an act of witness to pray for peace in Ukraine. Now of course those issues are very different, but at the same time it really struck me that I seemed to be the only person who was at both of these different events. Both in the middle of Cardiff, both virtually in the same place, just a few days apart. I was the only person at both the left wing cost of living protest, and the Christian pray for peace in Ukraine event. It really got me pondering - why do I often feel like I'm the only person who goes to these different things? Why is there so little crossover? Now these are two separate things. But I also find it hard to believe that people who care about the cost of living don'
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The first principle of my work - the hyper-local

I've decided to write down the principles of the work that I do in Cardiff. These are not necessarily in order of importance but simply the order that they have occurred to me. The work, that I feel called by God to do in Cardiff, is a kind of pioneer ministry, community ministry, spirit-led activism. It works by a number of practices and principles that I have developed, borrowed from others, learnt from books, or made up as I've gone along! These principles might change as I am always learning and adapting, but these are my foundations right now. The first principle of the work is the hyper-local. The first practice of my ministry is to live where I live - in Riverside. And to be a neighbour, a resident, a citizen, of my street, of my neighbourhood, of my city.  Riverside is just a few thousand households, you can walk from one end to the other in 15 minutes. Yet it contains multitudes - different identities, classes, ethnicities, ages.  But as an example of the principle of

A letter from Glasgow

  OK, I'm actually not writing this from Glasgow, but from back home in Cardiff, after returning from Glasgow a few days ago. I spent a long weekend in Glasgow, in the middle of the period of the COP26 conference. I went to Glasgow because I felt I had to, I needed to, and I was able to. Of course not everyone has the privilege of time and money and freedom from other responsibilities to do something like that. But I did, so I went. I marched with the youth Fridays for Future march, I marched with the main climate justice march on the Saturday, and I joined with Christian Climate Action and Faith Bridge to take part in the interfaith Earth Vigil, every day holding an interfaith space for meditation and prayer on the street. Every day the Earth Vigil was held in a different location, depending on what else was going to happen. Some days it was at the entrance to the Scottish Event Campus where COP was happening, other days it was in the middle of the city, amongst loud crowds, or in

Am I an activist?

  I remember being at some protest outside the Senedd once, and someone introduced me to someone else, and said, "Stephen is an activist." I remember thinking - am I? I don't know. What does it mean to be an activist? Who gets to use that title? Am I an activist because I turn up at a few protests? Or do I have to be one them organising the protest to be an activist? Do I have to lead? Do I have to do the organisational work to be an activist? Because the truth is that since I moved to Cardiff I have kept myself at the periphery of a lot of activist groups. I go to meetings, I hear about things, I turn up at protests, but I have rarely got really fully involved. Why is that? It's not for the reason that I don't have time. I do, in fact. But often I sit in these meetings and protests and think "Is this effective? Is it worthwhile? Is it going to produce something at the end of it all that is worth the effort?" I suppose, coming from the world of church I

Gentle/Radical nominated for the Turner Prize

One of the projects I'm involved in as part of Gentle/Radical is “Doorstep Revolution” a project to collect stories of Riverside during the pandemic. This has been a fascinating and rewarding project. It's such a privilege when people let you into their lives and tell you their stories. One of the themes that has come out of this work is the importance of connection, the connections that have been strained under lockdown, and the connections we want to grow and strengthen in the coming months. This, and other work, has now been recognised with a nomination for the Turner Prize. The following article is from the BBC: The 2021 Turner Prize nominees are, for the first time, made up of collectives who have helped to "inspire social change through art", organisers say. Exhibitions have been largely closed over the past year due to the pandemic. With that in mind, Friday's shortlist contained the names of five groups who continued to work in the community. Prize c