Resistance is fertile - the Common Ground Community Garden in Reading

A detailed personal account of the setting up of an occupied community garden in Reading in 2007, which was later evicted by the council.

Submitted by bellyscratch on March 25, 2010

You’re in the centre of Reading. You walk south, past the shops, the chain pubs, the empty office blocks. You reach the Oracle, a plastic, steel and glass cathedral built to praise the gods of shopping. You cross the IDR – a massive dual carriageway built through the centre of the town as part of the most ill thought out experiment in traffic management – and enter London Street. You walk past Reading International Solidarity Centre, the various solicitors, employment agencies and English as a foreign language schools. You reach the cross roads. To your right is a Tesco’s, topped by student flats. To your left are empty Tudor style houses. Opposite is a six storey block of flats designed to be the ‘model of luxury urban living’; in reality a collection of rabbit hutch size apartments which will fall apart in a couple of years. Opposite and to the right there is a rubble-strewn waste-ground. The site of one of the most successful and militant direct-action campaigns in Reading for a long time.

Rewind to mid-2007. Standing on this site then you would have been greeted by a very different sight. A row of Victorian houses stood on the corner, some occupied by squatters, some empty. A green gateway between two of the buildings is open. Walking through it you see a beautiful rockery packed with plants in full bloom. The alley way opens out and around the corner a most unexpected sight greets you: Common Ground Community Garden. A small patch of grass surrounded by loads of flowers and plants is separated from an area covered in woodchip by a hand-built path. Homemade garden furniture (two or three tables surrounded by benches) sits in the shade of the Buddleia bushes next to the children’s play area. The sounds and stresses of Reading’s urban jungle melt away.

Dirty Squatters.

Common Ground Community Garden came about when a group of activists squatted one of the buildings on the corner. Reading Borough Council owned all the buildings and the land. Two of the buildings had tenants in them – the Council for Racial Equality and the Women’s Information Centre – but the council was trying to move them on. In 2006 they cut all funding to the Women’s Information Centre, forcing it to close, and found the Council for Racial Equality new premises. This left the row of houses empty – prime land for redevelopment. However, they weren’t the only people eyeing the properties up with grand designs for their future.

Reading Grassroots Action – at the time called Rage (cheesy, yes we know) – had members who needed a place to live. Also, inspired by the Social Centre Network that was being set up in the UK at the time, we had the grand idea of setting up a social centre in Reading. One day towards the end of summer 2006, armed with a tool box and some new locks, we moved into our new home.

It quickly became apparent that there was no way we could effectively run a social centre. The majority of the people living in the squat had jobs or university and problems were had finding enough people just to occupy the squat, let alone if we tried to start opening it to the community. So the social centre idea was dropped, but a new idea was being cooked up. Next door there were two houses which had been left derelict for years. Behind these properties there was a large waste-ground which was a favourite haunt for drug addicts. Looking over our wall at the derelict gardens next door, with the stories of New York’s Community Gardens and Zapatista land occupations in mind (check out, we knew just what to do.

Hang on lads; I’ve got a great idea.

This idea – to transform this derelict junkyard into a squatted community garden – did not sit in isolation. Instead, it was viewed as possibly the first stage in a long-term strategy. For quite a while members of RGA had been feeling that most UK anti-capitalists – including ourselves – were doing things out of habit, without considering the effects or effectiveness of these things, and certainly without these things being part of any cohesive long term strategy. Over a few months, two comrades developed what we considered to be a clear and concise strategy, which was accepted by the group. Working backwards in their minds from the kind of world we would like to see, through what was considered to be the most likely way of this coming about, four main objectives were identified:

1. Recognise things in common between ourselves and others and facilitate the recognition of commonality between others.

2. Articulate and effectively communicate our analysis of society

3. Build collective confidence in ourselves and others.

4. Maintain our own organisations long-term.

It seemed that creating this community garden would be a (relatively) short/medium term activity that could fulfil these objectives to some extent. For our own group morale (and to fulfil objectives 3 and 4) we needed to do something where we would feel successful and this project seemed like it couldn’t fail to achieve this. If the garden lasted and was used by our community, it would be a great autonomous community project, self-organised and created through direct-action, and would hopefully be a positive way to introduce ourselves and our politics to our community. On the other hand, if the authorities tried to stop us or destroy the garden at any point, it would be easy to articulate ourselves and portray our politics as 'good' and the authorities as 'bad'. Either way, it was felt we were onto a winner.

At the same time, we anticipated that it would go some way to fulfilling objective 1. Firstly, creating a space like this allows normally atomised people to get together socially and chat, which in itself is a good thing. However, because of the way the space has been created, it also meant that much of the conversation would focus on the politics involved. Reading is already a highly developed town, with an economy centred on the retail/consumer and high-technology sectors. In addition to this, development is rampant with new shopping centres, posh offices and luxury hotels and apartments seemingly appearing every day. The resultant gentrification causes price increases and long-term working class residents are pushed further and further out of the town. With shops, offices and luxury flats on one side, and Victorian working class housing and council estates on the other, our squat seemed to symbolise the border between the developed, gentrified and consumerist Reading and the Reading where ordinary people lived their lives. As it was pretty obvious that the Council planned to sell our space to developers for yet more posh apartments, we felt this would be a perfect space and project to open up communication between ourselves and our neighbours about these issues.

So we started work. Using free cycle and taking stuff others were throwing away (we got some turf for free, all the fencing we needed from someone who was replacing theirs and a load of pallets that we used for decking for £1) we created a beautiful garden for a little over £150. We also relied on help from friends and family. One of the things at the forefront of our minds was to make the garden look as professional as possible. Just because we’re doing this ourselves doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care how it looks; if anything it’s got to be better than the parks created by the council – if we’re saying we can run our communities better than those in power then we’ve got to be able to back this up! With this is mind, after cleaning away all the weeds, brambles and needles (a whole bucketful), a few people got together and drew some specific plans of the garden. The plan of the garden was accepted, and we decided early on that to get the work completed to some kind of schedule and standard we would have to appoint a foreman to check that work was actually getting done. Although we were very slack appointing the foreman, this highlights a couple of problems that arose within the group during this project, which led to a number of people leaving, albeit only for a short while.

One of the major problems that arose was that some people were doing the majority of the work, and sometimes when work was done it was rushed and was not to a very high standard. This led some people to feel they were doing all the work, and led others to feel that their input was neither wanted nor needed. This fed into a bigger debate we’d been having about informal hierarchies, what constitutes membership of a group, how decisions are made and ‘ownership’ of these decisions. Emotions were running high and the feeling inside RGA was hard. Eventually between 2 and 5 (depending on how we classified membership at that point) people left. We continued to work together (better than we had for a long time), and we also tried to address some of the problems that had arisen: we began to institute ‘work days’, where everyone who could would come along and work on the garden. We’d agree beforehand what we were going to get done that day, and then we did it. We’d then go to the pub (or, towards the end, have a little bonfire in the garden).

Person’s Unknown

Eventually, our agreed opening day – Saturday 19th May 2007 – approached. As the final sections of the garden were being finished, we produced over 600 leaflets which were delivered door-to-door, we put up posters and we hung a banner over the fence advertising the event. Two days before, we received notice that an injunction had been served on ‘persons unknown’ in an attempt to stop the opening day, and that the Council were seeking a possession order for the land and the buildings. Strange that they only took action against the squatters once we started to do something positive, even though they admitted they had known about us since October the previous year (when we’d told them we were squatting there). Anyway, we quickly rushed out another 500 leaflets delivered door-to-door saying we’d open the garden regardless, and inviting our neighbours to defend the garden against a council that hadn’t given a damn about the area for over 5 years. Several neighbours told us they hadn’t planned to come, but definitely would now! The same message was distributed around the local media with a clear explanation of our reasons for doing what we were doing.

Early Saturday morning some Pixies removed the front fence, opening the garden to the public. About mid-day two Polish security guards turned up, presumably to serve the injunction. They tried twice, then gave up retreating to their van where they sat and smoked (we offered them some food, but they’d brought their own). The day itself was a massive success, with over 200 residents passing through the garden and signing our petition supporting the garden and demanding community control over the area. That over 200 people (including at least 1 cop) were prepared to break the law in support of our garden and put their hands in their pockets (we got around £100 in donations) showed that we’d really hit a popular nerve. Throughout the day, discussions were had; discussions about the lack of green space in Katesgrove, about the horrible unaffordable flats that were being built everywhere and about the fact that the garden was squatted. In the evening, acoustic music was performed ranging from country and bluegrass to acoustic punk. A barbeque was had, the drinks flowed and neighbours who would never have smiled at each other before sang the night away together. The most striking thing was the diversity, and that it didn’t matter. You had 18 year old punks in studs and leather jackets talking with 50 year old professionals, you had anarchist activists sharing a beer or two with (off-duty) coppers.

A picture is worth a thousand words

We had a fair few of both. From the start we’d decided to interact with the local media as much as possible. For a long time we’d considered that the anarchist fear of the media may not be the best policy. Our experience of the media during this project was great. They were desperate for stories, and as such if we gave them a story, they’d print it. This meant that for a long time, we controlled the media coverage and the public’s perception of the garden. We had many great stories in the local rags (we even got on TV a couple of times) surrounding the garden, the various events we held there and the resultant court cases. We think the Council were caught off guard by our media onslaught, and didn’t start to get to grips with waging the media war until they finally evicted us – many months later. We clearly ‘won’ the media war, and many of the later articles even included a slightly closer look at our politics, which had been one of our aims from the start. We even made it onto regional television a number of times, appeared in national newspapers (one article that springs to mind was in the Guardian), and even had a section written about us in a book (from which we never saw penny one in royalties). This media barrage went some way to fulfilling one of our aims: Articulate and effectively communicate our analysis of society. However, it also went a long way towards recognising similarities and commonality between ourselves and others. To hear people agreeing with an anarchist critique of capitalist development, writing letters to the paper in defence of the squatters, and even organising similar projects elsewhere was what this was all about.

After the success of the opening night celebrations, reality hit hard (much like the hangover the next day). Although we had 200 people signed up on our petition demanding community control of the area, the Council technically had the law on their side. On Friday 25th May 2007, the Council took us to court to extend their injunction against opening the garden, and to seek a possession order for the houses and the land. A couple of members of RGA went along and made our case (many more were outside with a banner and a photographer. Yet another victory for us in the papers at least), and even had the judge agreeing that we had a ‘moral argument’. However, in the eyes of the law, moral arguments carry no weight. So their injunction was extended (making opening the garden illegal) and an eviction date was set. Oh, if it was only that simple . . .

Gardeners 1, Bailiffs 0

// Common Ground Community Garden Eviction Resistance!



They left the land to rot, covered in trash and needles. They hope the buildings will fall down, so they can justify flogging to the highest bidder. They hope to see more unaffordable prison-block apartments. Reading Borough Council calls it development, regeneration. We call it gentrification, exclusion. Just profit and power.

The land is ours. We occupied it, we cleared it, we worked it and we made it bloom. We recycled and re-used, and on our squatted land we created sanctuary from the rampant capitalism of Reading. Our friends, family and neighbours chipped in, and through direct-action and self-organisation, we created a community garden in our neighbourhood, Katesgrove. The land is ours? Well, not exactly. The land is nobody's, because it is everybody's. And so we called it Common Ground.

On 19th May, we opened the garden to the public. We invited our friends, families and neighbours. Embarrassed and scared, the Council tried to stop us. Their court gave them an injunction against us, making it illegal to open the garden. So, we informed our community and re-invited ‘em. Fuck the injunction! 200 people came and enjoyed the garden that day, laughing at the Council and meeting others people who think the same things they do. Even the media told the truth about us.

Then the Council got their injunction extended. They told us it was illegal to open our garden at all and they want 'their' land back. They don’t understand it has never been theirs; they were just looking after it for us. And since they didn't do a very good job, we've found a better use for it. For ourselves, our neighbours and local workers, for young and old, the garden is open every day. So, now they say they will take it back by force, and demolish our garden and give it to the rich. Their courts have given them the law, and their thugs will evict us on Wednesday morning - if they can...

For us, existence is resistance - and Common Ground Community Garden exists. Our self-organisation and direct-action exists. On Wednesday and forever, our resistance exists. Demonstrate, barricade, blockade, occupy - we will resist in different ways, because 'we' is made of different people, and now hopefully will include one more - you.

In Love n Rage,

Some gardeners.

Text of the call out issued to neighbours and the media about defending the garden from eviction the first time.

We quietly went about our work, every day opening the garden for the public, locking it at night, repairing the furniture and fences, and weeding as necessary. Also, unbeknownst to us, others were also trimming the grass and tidying for us (we had reports of one elderly gentleman coming from miles away once a week with his shears to trim the grass for us – this from a man we never met!) The community, although not really involved in running the space, clearly supported it and utilised it – throughout the summer of 2007, walk into the garden and you’d find single mothers and their children relaxing (ok, the mum’s relaxing, the kids playing on the slide), you’d find young professionals eating lunch, you’d find teens in tracksuits and you’d find elderly residents from the sheltered housing opposite. However, eviction day was looming large.

On Wednesday 20th June, bailiffs turned up to evict the squatters and the gardeners. However, since early that morning we’d been barricading the house (ultimately moving out, leaving it to some other squatter friends) and the garden, and we were not alone. Residents were there with us, and so was the media (local TV and newspapers again). The bailiffs were unsure about how to deal with this so did the wise thing and left. We knew exactly how to deal with this. We had a party – more acoustic punk, bbq’d meat, resident solidarity and the occasional beer.

Gardeners 2, Bailiffs 0.

By late July the Council tried again to evict the gardeners, and again left empty handed. Whilst some RGA activists were out of the country (getting CS gassed and water-cannoned in Germany), bailiffs again turned up, and were again met by strong local resistance. With the expected police backup going AWOL (due to a slight case of flooding in the town centre and outlying housing estates – you see, even nature was on our side!), they swiftly retreated to the safety of their offices. A couple of days later an event organised in conjunction with the nearby Rising Sun Arts Centre (a previously squatted building who were nothing but totally supportive throughout the struggle) was very well attended with children from the local area creating a new mosaic pathway, despite threats and intimidation from the Council.

It was also around this time that the Council, in a desperate attempt to move us on, offered us two possible plots for future community gardens in the area. After careful consideration, the Common Ground gardeners decided to reject the offer – why should we leave this garden that we’d already spent time and money on creating? However, as the Council had offered the land to us, they also had to offer the land to the local residents association, so members of RGA involved in the Katesgrove Residents Association strongly encouraged KRA to take the Council up on their offer of land. KRA did so, and negotiations began about the setting up of Community Gardens in the Katesgrove area. Direct action gets the goods!

Gardeners 2, Bailiffs 1. Down but not out.

Throughout the summer more events were organised, from BBQ’s to film showings, from work days to family fun days. Every day without fail we unlocked the padlocks so that the community could make use of their garden. Plans for what we were going to do next were also being considered and discussed, as were ongoing meetings with the Council and the residents association regarding future legal sites and the future of Common Ground itself. However, the immediate future of Common Ground was decided on Thursday 18th October. At around 9am council officials, bailiffs, PCSO’s and police officers turned up. They broke down the door to the Women’s Information Centre and evicted the squatters there – friends of ours, who sometimes kept an eye on the garden for us. They also broke a hole in the garden fence. At around this time some residents turned up and attempted to ask questions and take photos of the event. After plans to board everything up were heard, some of the original gardeners arrived. Three people entered the garden and sat down at one of the tables in there. An argument broke out as the residents demanded that the community should be asked what it wanted to happen to the site, rather than a development being imposed without consultation, while Council officials simply replied "its private property" - as if this is more important than social and environmental concerns or local democracy. When told "this isn't right and you know it!” officials replied "You may have a moral argument, but by the law this is right”. Says it all, eh? Eventually one of the Council officials lost his cool, pulled a seat out from under one of the residents and threw it across the garden. He also started to shove and square up to one of the residents, who stood his ground and asked the official his name. Two of the residents felt they should leave in the face of such aggression, leaving one resident in the garden. The police (who by this time had lost interest and wandered off) were called. The police once again asked the resident to leave, to avoid "embarrassment", only to be told "I'm not embarrassed to defend this garden". Eventually, following discussions between the Council and the police, the Council official was told to use reasonable force to evict the person. The protester was physically lifted and dragged out of the garden, before builders fitted boards over the garden gate and over the hole in the fence.

It was around this time that we also began to experience a bit of a media back-lash. By now the Council’s media department was in full swing, and newspaper articles were steadily becoming ‘cooler’ towards us. Furthermore, due to the fact that we were resisting the evictions, the media could no longer be as vocal in support for us. The general consensus seemed to be that ‘we’d done something nice for the community and we’d made our point, but now that the Council wanted the land back we should just drift away into the night. After-all, our assertions that the land was owned by everyone sounded dangerously like communism, and we wouldn’t want that, would we?’ However, there were more serious issues coming to light. Firstly the Council started to portray us as uncompromising, saying that we rejected offers for new gardens ‘out of hand’ without even considering them. This issue was cleared up with a simple letter to the papers correcting this misrepresentation. More worrying allegations were to surface later.

A supporter of the garden sent an email to Katesgrove councillor David Sutton (a very unpleasant man who, when approached requesting a donation, told a member of RGA who was running a stall in the centre of town to ‘Fuck off and get a job’. He eventually lost his seat in May 2008, something we like to think we had at least a little influence in) requesting information regarding the closing of the garden. The reply contained some ridiculous, but very serious, allegations. In his letter he attempted to portray the “squatters” and the “gardeners” as two different sets of people, describing the gardeners as ‘nice and peaceful’ whilst the squatters were described as ‘prepared to use (or at least threaten) extreme violence’ in defence of the building in which they were living. This is based on the “fact” that a ‘cache of weapons was found inside the property, including an axe, some double edged knives and pieces of wood with nails driven through them.’ What on earth would some gardeners be doing with an axe, some knives and pieces of wood? Again, we swiftly dispatched a letter to the press attacking these lies, but this was a clear indication just how much we were annoying the Council. Needless to say, there was no police investigation into any of Councillor Sutton’s claims (proof, if any more was needed, that they were patently stupid), but it certainly seemed to mark an escalation in the Council’s handling of us. However, we had absolutely no intention of just giving up.

Caught by the fuzz.

On Monday 5th November, 3 young men were stopped outside Common Ground by an unmarked police car. The police called the Council and asked them what they wanted to be done. The Council were overheard telling the police that they wanted the men arrested ‘so that they could have a photo of [their] faces’. The police complied, and took the men to the cells on the charges of attempted burglary and going equipped. After a number of hours the police finally understood that they were gaining access to the garden from the road, not one of the buildings and the charges were dropped, and the men were released. This was just one attempt we made during these few bleak months to reopen the garden, the majority of the others being more successful. However, during these few weeks when the Council had retaken “control” of the garden, we quickly saw it revert to how it had been before we started the garden – a magnet for drugs, criminal activities and a blight on the neighbourhood. During the weeks and months when then garden had been “secured” by the Council, lead was stolen from the roofs of the buildings (leaving the remaining lead on the roofs in a precarious position, ready to fall and hit passers-by just as soon as it got windy enough – ‘health and safety’ my arse), all copper piping was stolen from the houses, and the toilets in the Women’s Information Centre were smashed. The Council’s claim’s that they shut the garden on ‘health and safety’ grounds were exposed for the lies we all knew them to be. During the months when the garden was open, there was a significant drop in crime and anti-social behaviour in the area. After just weeks of it being shut, crime, vandalism and drugs use was all on the increase again.

After a lull of activity over the winter (who wants to go into a garden with no cover during one of the wettest winters on record?), by the ’day of direct action in defence of free space’ on April 12th we were ready to try our luck again. Using tools borrowed from a friend, we cut through the wire fencing at the back of the garden, and began tidying the garden. After months of neglect it was a big job, but with two weeks of hard work, the garden was again in a fit state to be opened to the public. Posters were produced advertising the reopening, and hundreds of leaflets were again produced and distributed locally. Needless to say, we had a plan. Past form suggested the Council would try to stop us opening, so we advertised ‘Plan B’; if we were prevented from partying in the garden, we’d take the party to the Council offices and hold the party in the plaza (grand word for a bit of shitty concrete surrounded by 60s brutalist architecture. It’s only saving grace is that there’s a small statue dedicated to the Reading residents who fought and died ‘defending democracy’ in the Spanish Civil War) that the Council, Police station and the Courts open onto. Just before the opening day, RBC came and changed the locks and re-barricaded the garden. However, at 7am on Saturday 12th April, we were in the garden preparing for opening day. Come 1pm and off came the front fence creating an unblockable entrance. Residents came, anarchists from across the country came, rain came (as did some gazebo’s hastily bought in Argos), and acoustic punks came, and an excellent day was had by all. The only people who didn’t turn up were the Council or their goons, seemingly giving up as we’d shown time and time again that we wouldn’t give up (though we heard the previously mentioned plaza was well defended by the cops). After re-securing the garden we went to bed, our point having been made.

Over the next weeks and months, we entered into discussions with the Council and the resident’s association trying to push forward the legal gardens in the area. We also had a new demand – temporarily legalise Common Ground under the control of KRA, at least until the land was sold to developers. By September this battle had been won, and Common Ground was opened yet again – this time legally. Another party was had, including more acoustic punk, a BBQ, face painting, a raffle, and a graffiti demonstration from a local graff crew TPK. Again, we could open the garden every day and a brief ceasefire of sorts settled over the area.

Our survey says . . .

Of course, we knew this was only a temporary measure, and we began to mobilise along different lines. We began to try and push for community control over the area, demanding that in the least the community should be consulted over what happened in the area. We organised mass meetings for residents trying to set up a community-led campaign pushing for this. We also mooted the idea of starting a wider campaign against the gentrification of the area, and we attempted to begin to link up the various community groups in Reading, trying to form a larger coalition. Unfortunately, much of this came to naught as we had bitten off a little more than we could chew – by this time we had only 6 members, one of whom was ill with ME and others who were incredibly busy with jobs or exams. However, we did manage to produce a survey consulting the residents on what they thought should happen to the area – our reasoning being that even if the Council don’t do it, we will. Over the winter of 2008 and early 2009 we distributed our survey, getting about 1 in 6 returned. We were absolutely delighted with the response and only wished we could have got more handed out. The results strongly echoed everything we’d been demanding, and a lot of people pledged to get involved with the future community gardens. This survey also signified a slight retreat on our part, handing responsibility of pushing for the gardens to KRA (an organisation that RGA members were very active in), as we moved onto other projects.

Rose tinted spectacles

In the summer of 2009, the Common Ground site was flattened. This was seemingly done out of spite, as it now lies derelict, nearly a year later. The houses were pulled down directly onto the garden, so nothing is left now besides rubble. The houses cellars are now exposed, making the Council’s claims they were doing it to make the site safer laughable. In a final indignation, we had moved a lot of our materials (plants, tables, etc) to a section of the site where we were assured they would be kept safe from harm – these too were all destroyed. However, this does not mean we lost. Work on the new gardens is progressing, with KRA taking on the task with vim and vigour.

RGA has also moved on. Becoming part of L&S towards the end 2008, we have been instrumental in the setting up of Reading branch of the IWW workers union, which in turn has been one of the leading forces in setting up Reading Shop Stewards Network which see’s militants from the NUT, the CWU, Unite, the RMT, PCS and the IWW all working together. We are also very active in another community campaign in East Reading, and we have been hosting quarterly forums designed to get all lefty community activists in Reading working together. Dropping the name RGA for simply RL&S (4 names in 5 years? Something of an identity crisis!?!), we have huge plans and ambitions for Reading in the future.

The future’s bright . . .

So what can be learned from Common Ground? Don’t start a community garden project unless you really like gardening, cos it’ll be more successful than your wildest dreams? Personally for me, it was the first ‘anarchist’ project that I’d been involved in that actually connected with local people. Up to this point all we had been involved in were ‘stunty’ street protests such as May Day and the anti-G8 protests. We’d go to someone else’s community, have a fight with the cops (read: get kettled, piss in a bottle and then go to the pub) and then go home, leaving someone else to tidy up. This was the first time we’d interacted, and, fucking hell, it actually worked! Throughout this struggle the strongest support we had was from the local residents. We got a councillor elected (Lib Dem Warren Swaine – less of a bastard than the rest of them eh Warren?) and deposed ‘leader’ of the council David Sutton. We encouraged KRA to step up to the plate and represent the whole of Katesgrove, not just the middle-class ghetto it had previously occupied – a challenge it has began to rise to. Although only one member of RGA now lives in Katesgrove, it is an area we still have strong links with, with many comrades and friends living in the area, and it is an area we still operate in, albeit through KRA.

RGA is also much the better for this project. This was when we developed our first ‘strategy’, deciding that it’s better to have a clear aim in mind and ways of measuring success than just doing things cos ‘It’s what anarchists do, innit,’ or ‘because there was a call out issued.’ We now, as part of L&S, have short, medium and long term strategies for all our spheres of operation, which have very clear goals in mind and ways of actually achieving them. This was also the time when RGA’s internal structure underwent a massive change. Now, when decisions are made, people are assigned tasks and if they don’t do them they have account for their actions. People take ownership of projects and make sure they get done. When we organise events we assign people roles (such as police liaison, cook, event coordinator) with clearly defined job descriptions and responsibilities. Most importantly though, we hold each other to account better, and RGA (RL&S) is still one of the most active and successful groups in Reading, and probably the country. We managed to break out of the (self-imposed) anarchist ghetto and have made a real difference to our own lives and the lives of our neighbours. We’re acting like the anarchists of old now, organising within our workplaces and our communities, building the institutions and the structures that can and will run the country in the future.