Visiting Youth in Resistance in Edinburgh
Updated: Aug 26, 2022
From the 5th until the 9th of July some of us from the RYSE went on a road trip across the country to connect with and support some of the projects in our network. This is part of our spring (more like early summer!) fieldwork in our seasonal cycle, where we connect with radical youth in their local context. The main reason we went was to meet with some of the Youth in Resistance (YinR) crew in Edinburgh, to help facilitate and wrap up the end of a week-long strategy process which they had been doing together in Aberdeen. YinR is building a community of resistance in Edinburgh, collectively working to understand the role of youth as agents of change. Practically, they organise learning circles and direct action, such as occupying a lecture theatre at the University of Edinburgh, as well as supporting the actions of other groups.
On the way up we stayed for a night at the Ryebank Fields community camp in Manchester. We were welcomed with a big pot of chilli and then got a wonderful tour of the fields; a biodiverse and naturally rewilded green space which Manchester Metropolitan University is trying to sell for housing ‘development’. Protesters were invited there by the local community, who’ve been campaigning against the 'development' since the 90s, and have been occupying the land for over a year now. We had a beautiful evening sitting around the fire, sharing songs and drinking homemade elderflower champagne. We woke up to drizzle and warm porridge and then got back on the road to Edinburgh. When we arrived and spoke to some of the crew from YinR we heard that their strategy process hadn’t quite gone to plan. For the last few days of their time together they’d instead had many important conversations about power dynamics in their group, especially along gender and racial lines. They talked about the fact that a majority of the decision making and organisational power, but also respect and authority, was held by very few people in the group. The general feeling was one of gratitude that these necessary conversations had happened, but also quite a lot of exhaustion and feeling lost with where to go next. So we ended up needing to take a slightly different role than we had initially expected.
Over the next two days we had a series of conversations with those from YinR who could make it. We started by sharing everyone’s reflections and feelings from the days in Aberdeen, and we from the RYSE also shared some of our thoughts and similar experiences we have had. In the afternoon we dived more deeply into some of the themes that had emerged in the morning, such as how to practically distribute power, and decision making processes.
Between the meetings it was also really great to hang out, eat and cook together at the student housing co-op (thanks to the wonderful people who hosted us!), and just generally get to know each other a bit better. On the second day a few more people from YinR were able to join us and we talked about how to bring these conversations forward in a tangible way. Laying out the beginnings of a path for what the team can do over the next few months to integrate this learning and find their path forward in a way in which more people are empowered to take initiative and space within the team.
On our drive back south we stopped at the Durham Miners Gala, the UK’s biggest celebration of trade union values, community spirit, and working-class culture. Some of the people we’d met at the housing co-op were going, so we decided to join them there. We arrived a bit late but were still able to listen to speeches, buy some cool books and appreciate all the brass bands and mining banners. We also met one of the activists from Gays and Lesbians Support the Miners (whose story the movie Pride is based on) and Meg got a great t-shirt!