unite dies but Foco lives ?

Foco can mean a central space, however in revolutionary politics Che Guevara gave it real meaning in guerrilla warfare against military dictatorships around the world. It was a place from which the poor and oppressed could launch their attack on the ruling class.

On the Paradigm Shift, this week, Andy talked “about creating radical collaborative spaces in Brisbane. We hear from people organising this week’s Community Day for Climate, next week’s Laura Street Festival, plus the ongoing spaces at Common House and Moorooka Social Space.” – Andy from Paradigm Shift

Andy interviews people from four contemporary radical spaces around Brisbane: Turnstyle Community Hub in Laura Street, Common House in the Valley, Moorooka Social Space and Extinction Rebellion’s Community Day for Climate at Northey Street Markets.

The show looks at an evolving need for community. None of the spaces discussed existed more than ten years ago illustrating the precarious existence for organisations that run these spaces. For example, unite, set up only a few years ago (2016) has split and dissolved. Common House is now run by a management committee from a number of different collectives.

Interesting also is the generational nature of theses groups. Faced with a climate crisis, a global pandemic and the sabre rattling of war mongers, there is a need for stable lasting organisation of revolutionary groups … till now, unattainable.

It is interesting to hear Dave Eden speak when unite was set up:

It seems that unite was unable to live up to at least one piece of advice by Dave Eden: “Run, comrade, the old world is behind you!” so it ran out of puff. It is very difficult to maintain the level of organisation required, something that the more rigid Socialist Alliance had managed for many years prior to being taken over in that place by unite. Socialist Alliance are still going at the Albion Peace Centre. I would walk by Common House on Fridays after doing the Paradigm Shift on 4ZZZ at noon. Nine out of ten times I knocked on the door at 74b Wickham St, Fortitude Valley over a period of ten years, there was no one there. An empty space. There’s a radical concept.

Many communities in Meanjin
Some longer lasting groups tied to the Left in some way that were not covered on the show are: Foco Nuevo, the Cuba Friendship Society, Justice for Palestine, LeftPress Printing Society, the Big Ride for Palestine, Andy’s own community, the Catholic Workers, Just Peace and their Politics in the Pub, and of course a number of union based communities which get together each year on May Day. Some more examples are mentioned below.

Setting up is hard, but sustaining organisation is harder.

For example, the original FOCO lasted about 14 months, firstly at the old Trades Hall and then at AHEPA Hall in West End and rode the crest of the anti-Vietnam war movement and counterculture that grew out of it.

Foco Nuevo, on the other hand, has been going for over 11 years and is a monthly concert featuring local and international musicians from many different genres. It takes the form of a the regular performance space for Jumping Fences and guests, held on the First Friday of every month. It has even survived the pandemic.

There are a number of other progressive communities in Brisbane (Meanjin). There the St Mary’s community that formed because of the need for social justice in the church. Then there’s the community in Musgrave Park, Jagera Arts, WAR and the Sacred Fire which is about sovereignty and first nations land rights. There’s the Latin-American community that is a loose formation around solidarity with the struggles in the Americas. They often get together at various venues including the Spanish Club, Foco Nuevo, Cuba Friendship events and some restaurants. Not to mention the various places that have evolved from the women’s movement including Women’s House. As mentioned on the show the anti-poverty network is trying to make government accountable for the widening gap between rich and poor, particularly women. And, finally, there’s 4ZZZ an independent radio station that came out of the anti-war movement. But its main focus remains, music.

To name a few … I am sorry a full treatment in this short article is impossible.

Anyway have a listen to the show and see what you think … https://4zzz.org.au/program/paradigm-shift

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