Shared Assets was pleased to play a central role in coordinating the Land For What? conference over a rainy weekend in November last year. Over 250 people came together to talk about food, housing, farming, tax, and more, all through the lens of land.
It was an energising and invigorating weekend, bringing food, housing and anti-gentrification activists together with farmers, academics, politicians and community groups. You can check out lots of videos from the day here, and there’s a lovely summary video of the day below
The coalition that brought the Land for What? event together consisted of the Community Food Growers Network, Just Space, Landworkers Alliance, London Quaker Housing, New Economics Foundation, Radical Housing Network, Three Acres and a Cow, and us at Shared Assets. After a justified period of catching our collective breath, we reconvened early in the new year, to consider what next steps we could take to build on the momentum and energy at Land for What?
We all agreed that a land reform movement is needed, but that it shouldn’t be something that is owned or controlled by any organisation or group of organisations. We wanted to create an open movement, so it felt right to formally “disband” the Land for What coalition, and see if we could start something new.
We worked to agree a “Common Ground statement”, that summed up what we all believe is important, while not, we hope, being too prescriptive about what some of the solutions could be. Central to this is the desire to build an inclusive, diverse movement, that speaks to people from all backgrounds – a movement that is informed by our past, but that is forward looking.
We then invited everyone who’d been at Land for What or who had signed up to our mailing list, to a workshop in June in London to design the next steps. We had a sunny day this time, and over people came. Fuelled by a truly wonderful lunch from the multi-talented Dee and Lesley from Granville Community Kitchen, people worked together to create some plans.
A key decision was to change that a new name was needed, and the clear favourite was Land Justice Network. The twitter handle has already changed, and domain names have been bought. Four working groups were set up on the day, to look at mapping, land policy and land reform, direct action, and outreach and education. New systems are being set up for communicating but for now the best thing to do if you want more information is to sign up to the existing Land for What mailing list here.
Part of the thinking is that the working groups can be relatively autonomous, and get on with doing things without needing a bureaucratic sign off process. The next meeting of the whole network is being planned for November, in Leicester, and will follow on from a Three Acres and a Cow show. That meeting will start to discuss decision making processes and continue the discussion about the development of the network.
From a Shared Assets point of view, we’re really excited to see how this all develops. It feels right that we aren’t in the centre of it any more: this needs to be a movement of activists, and it needs to create its own direction, or set of directions. We will be here to support and facilitate, and cheer the network on. Catastrophes like Grenfell Tower are a horrible illustration of how interconnected and complex our system of land and property ownership is. We think it will be crucial to have a clear grassroots voice for land justice as the UK moves into uncharted territories over the next few years.
Long live the Land Justice Network!