The Invisible Machine – a gas pipeline in the Caucasus and a handshake in No10

The Invisible Machine – a gas pipeline in the Caucasus and a handshake in No10

On the evening of Thursday 26th April 2018, it was warm and sunny in London. President Ilham Aliyev strode down Downing Street and was met by Prime Minister Theresa May with smile and a handshake. They posed for the cameras on the red carpet outside No 10 and then retired inside. A short formal chat...
Aliyev re-elected as President for another 7 years – the chain of oil autocracy that binds Azerbaijan

Aliyev re-elected as President for another 7 years – the chain of oil autocracy that binds Azerbaijan

On 18th April Ilham Aliyev will be inaugurated for the fourth time as President of Azerbaijan. His re-election comes as no surprise. It is so predictable that it barely counted as ‘news’ and consequently got next to no coverage in the international media. Originally the election was scheduled for 17th October, but at nine weeks...
Vive La Zad ! – in the midst of the tear gas, La Zad exists in our hearts

Vive La Zad ! – in the midst of the tear gas, La Zad exists in our hearts

The police arrived at 03.00 am on the morning of Monday 9th April. The exact number is, of course, unclear but it is said that 2,500 officers in riot equipment, with crash helmets and visors, Perspex shields and plastic body armour were deployed. Two and a half thousand highly trained men appeared out of the...
Spring in the Thames Valley – The extraordinary resistance of the more than human

Spring in the Thames Valley – The extraordinary resistance of the more than human

  Even in the dark the Blackbird sings. The bubbling song fills the night outside our bedroom window. You sleep silently, the bedclothes rising and falling, as the notes of the bird flow over you. Hours later, the grey light of dawn has come and with it the calls of Song Thrush and House Sparrow....
The slow dismantling the house of oil - The Gulbenkian Foundation divests

The slow dismantling the house of oil – The Gulbenkian Foundation divests

Quite unexpected comes remarkable news! Lucy Neal, a long-term part of the Platform family, e-mails out of the blue, forwarding an article from the Algarve Daily News, published on 1st February in southern Portugal. The headline reads: ‘Gulbenkian Foundation gets out of the oil business’ That truly is unexpected. Lucy had not foreseen this coming...
La Zad puts down roots – sensing the future

La Zad puts down roots – sensing the future

We’re in the middle of the crowd. Standing some way back from the stage, watching transfixed and elated at the performance of Orchestre Tout Puissant Marcel Duchamp. Two trombones, two drummers, two marimbas, two electric guitars, two cellos and five other musicians blast out such a blissful riot of sound that our souls sail above...
Defending the NHS – Platform and a community of health

Defending the NHS – Platform and a community of health

Recently I was sitting talking with a friend who was relating the harrowing tale of her partner’s sudden illness. My heart was in my mouth as she described the paramedics arriving in minutes to their home, the ambulance that took them to Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich, her partner being transferred to a specialist clinic...
Communal Memory - the power of community to resist Shell in Nigeria

Communal Memory – the power of community to resist Shell in Nigeria

I’m holding in my hands a report published by Amnesty International in November last year – ‘A Criminal Enterprise? Shell’s involvement in human rights violations in Nigeria in the 1990s’. It analyses in forensic detail exactly how much Shell staff knew about, and were involved in supporting, the actions by the Nigerian military taken against...
In memoriam Ed Ross – in honour of one who honoured others

In memoriam Ed Ross – in honour of one who honoured others

  A Robin sings among the bare branches of the Ash trees. A small crowd is gathered in a corner of Highgate Cemetery to commit the ashes of Ed Ross to the earth. A few hundred yards away, obscured by the gravestones and tree trunks, is the imposing bust of Karl Marx. Ed died suddenly...
Victory at La ZAD ! – inspirational resistance through community

Victory at La ZAD ! – inspirational resistance through community

The people of Notres Dame des Landes have won! The people of La ZAD have won! The airport that the French state have tried to build for 50 years has been defeated! On 17th January President Macron decreed that the Nantes International airport, similar in size to Heathrow, would not go ahead after half a...
Avebury and the infrastructure of community

Avebury and the infrastructure of community

Over the Winter Break I walked at Avebury in Wiltshire with Nick Robins, a long term Platformer, who’s worked on several projects and was a Trustee. We had the chance to reflect on time and community. The soft whale back curve of the Ridgeway rose to the left, its skyline punctuated by barrows ringed with...
Transitions Just and Unjust – the question of power

Transitions Just and Unjust – the question of power

We’re descending from the peak of A’ Chailleach (The wise old Woman). Trudging down the steep slope of Sron na Goibhre (Under the Nose/promontary of the Goats) on the northern edge of the Fannich mountain range. My knees are exhausted as they absorb the shock of each step on this sodden mass of grasses and...