Pearled two

We enjoyed some splendid weather throughout June and July, not least during the two very hot days of the Creekside Symposium held over midsummer in locations along Deptford Creek.

Mazi partners from Greece, Switzerland and Germany met with local artists, campaigners and residents from along Creekside.

Starting at the Hoy Kitchen on Creek Road, we viewed samples from the huge archive of images and film by cinematographer Gordon Cooper who has lived and worked in the area since the 70’s. His personal recollections and period images provided a glimpse onto fading memories of the industrial character and riverside landscape now transformed.

We trouped down the recently cleared Hoy Steps and on to the beach at low tide. A forest of overgrowth and rubbish was sorted and disposed of during community workshops, making them accessible for the first time in 20 years.

Karen Barnes talked about her work with DIY pinhole and camera obscura techniques, featuring local people and public places in the area many shot with a large box camera on wheels. Her mazizone has been attuned for work on the move, with rocket stove to charge the backup battery, integrated HD camera capturing work in progress. Images are automatically published alongside music projects and documentation of working practices.

Many people living on the boats moored at the Theatre Arm of the creek in Lewisham and Brookmarsh Estate in Greenwich face disruption as developer proposals challenge mooring arrangements and stir up anxiety for future security. Veteran mariners aired their concerns and expressed insight into the legal options and tactical steps they have taken to protect themselves.

Rising shore-side land values are driving a scramble for last scraps. Rents continue to speed beyond reach for all but the few.

Some of the planned outside activities were a relief from indoor workshops and talks. The afternoon sessions, one on a CDC lowtide walk in the creek and the other a picnic in the shade of Brookmill Park were welcome shelter from the scorching heat.

The evening was concluded with a bridge crossing walk following the Anchorhold path along the full tidal reach to the Creekmouth. The river path linking Lewisham to Greenwich here is over a pedestrian swing bridge completed in 2015 and opened everyday since to accommodate the gravel boats.

Many thanks again to all those who contributed to these great days of conversation and interaction, for the planning and support of those traveling to UK and for the many who took time out from their normal weekday activities to attend and share their stories.

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Realignment

The app is now available! Please download and install for Android phones and tablets.

During the recent dash to pretotype the Anchorholds app for Creeknet, we have been chopping up html and processing images to retrofit our fork of Open University project Salsa.

This requires rewriting of the templates to build the first 16 sets of pages with matching images etc. I can’t say it’s been easy collaborative process, even with great services at hand from Sandstorm and Google, so thanks to all concerned for their tireless support and patience.

Overall we were getting on fine with Sandstorm until some gremlins in the Davros share, made the files read only! With time lapping at our heels we made a swtich to Google Drive to complete the task but got into a synchronisation battle with one another. In the end we have resolved to build a staging server from where future versions of the app html will be tested. This could all have been handled better, so lessons learned!

During the last 12 months SPC has been working with individuals and groups based along Deptford Creek who are invested in local, social and technological networks. Some are resolutely off grid, harvesting energy and resisting normalisation pressures. Others take their time to make changes and take on new ideas but almost all have an investment in networks of one sort or another that they strive to build, maintain and protect.

This fantastic pictogram map of Creeknet was drawn by the Minesweeper Collective interns, working out of Deckspace media lab over the summer. It’s their impression of the people and spaces of the area as they have experienced them, where did all those bats come from ?

As a whole it has been a very interesting, complex and sometimes confusing process of exchange that we have been careful to nurture rather than project into, with insensitive and inappropriate energy. Rather we have attempted a participatory engagement in local activities, supporting initiatives and sharing trust, listening to needs of those we meet and working to understand the changing conditions.

It’s also been an opportunity to revisit some of the great relationships established in earlier network projects the most recent of which OWN had fallen out of use in recent years. New mesh network equipment has been installed along the length of the Creek in support of the Mazizones some have already begun cutomising to meet their specific network needs.

The current version of the resulting Anchorholds app will be available for download in time for the first day of Creeknet Symposium 20th June. For now it works only with Android smartphones and tablets. Once installed and running it will push location specific information to your screen when in proximity to a trail of Bluetooth beacon responders along Deptford Creek.

Today there is just sprinkling of information preloaded in the app but it is intended as one mechanism to promote public awareness of DIY networks of Deptford Creek. We hope to extend it’s scope to list local resources and report on collected data that may be critical to future well being of all those who live and work in the area, cross it’s bridges and moor on its shores.

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Creeknet XF Symposium

Its been a very hectic few weeks at SPC as we bring focus onto DIY networks of Deptford Creek at the first Creeknet Symposium on 20th and 21st June.

The poster here for you to print and put up in your window, outlines event details which can be found in full on the SPC event listings and at http://deptfordcreek.net

The Creeknet friends have been meeting regularly at venues up and down the creek. We have been exploring the fast changing environment and revisiting access points onto the river, crossing bridges and improving an understanding of local concerns and ambitions. The last of these before summer takes hold is on Monday 12th June at noon, in the Undercurrents gallery inside the Birdsnest pub on Deptford Church Street. We will be collecting together images and stories to publish at the local network Anchorholds, a trail of information points along the creek, so please do come along to contribute your experiences !

Rapid progress was made by the very energetic Hoy Steps clear-up group on Monday 5th June. The huge overgrowth of Buddleia clogging views, was cut down and disposed of in a flurry of action and enthusiasm. The vigorous roots of this plant have got deep into and have damaged the sea wall and will continue to regrow unless more drastic measures to remove remnants are adopted soon, even then they are likely to return!

Wooden pallets stored at street level have been sorted and stacked ready for re-use or removal and the rubbish sheet materials, plastic wrappers and polystyrene are bagged ready for disposal. We return early on Tuesday 13th to complete the clean-up process in preparation for a public viewing during Creeknet Symposium the following week.

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Picknmix

April swept by without more than a drop of rain, leaving gardens struggling for fuel at a point in the year when plants push out the most growth.. still, the restored Queens orchard in Greenwich Park looking lush!

YT rushed down to the creek just as Wireless Wednesday workshop kicked off, to wave farewell to Aileen Claire the beautiful blue fishing boat that Julian Kingston had spent much time and resources refurbishing but was forced to sell.

Last Friday of each month, Undercurrents gallery refresh their exhibition at the Birdsnest. we added the Creeknet mazizone there in March and have returned to update and refresh the gallery section.  Don’t ‘starve yourself’.. of the new set and pop in before June begins.

On Mayday we tracked the Deptford Foulers as they trouped from Deptford and around Greenwich spinning ‘Deptford Jack in the Green’ from public house to house accompanied by musicians and drummers.  Some great images here!

Now in mid May at last the air has been freshened up and much need drenching of the last couple of days which will go someway toward making up for the long drought.

Giles Lane dropped by to visit last week with Mark Watkins – printwork collaborators and walkshop advocates. They left some great examples of direct to print publications generated from Bookleteer not least the Magna Carta celebratory set of republished liberties and rights texts which are exquisite!

We will be making the best of the hint and including a printed Creeknet guidebook for those attending the upcoming Symposium XF event on 20th and 21st June…

 

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Creakynet

We visited the Hoy Steps again today to view the condition of the street level area inside the gates and assess the clean up task. After 20 years of restricted access, an accumulation of old wheels, wooden pallets and tangle of Buddleia block the steps. There is also a large amount of scaffolding framing the space which can be used again in any reconstruction plan. High tide at midday prevented us seeing more than half a dozen of the twenty steps that lead down to the muddy shoreline at low tide. A ferry once transported people across the creek to Greenwich at this point. The ‘hoy!’ call out to summon a boat was first heard here hundreds of years ago.

Our previous Creeknet meet-up started out at Laban Dance cafe’ from where we walked down Creekside and over the Ha’penny Hatch footbridge to the fork in the path on the Norman Road side. Thames Tideway are rapidly completing this controversial diversion, whilst setting out their groundwork for an 18m diameter x 60m deep excavation to a 12m diameter 30km sewage overflow tunnel from Ealing on route to Becton.

Waste removal from the Greenwich Pumping station site will add 100 trucks a day to the roads already overloaded with heavy construction services. Earlier suggestions to use huge river barges have been kicked into the long grass in favour of the pre-approved and cheaper option.!

Continuing on our way up to Creek Bridge, we stopped off at the far end of Hiltons Wharf, to step out on to the tiny mooring point in time to catch departure of the Prior’s aggregate ship to Gravesend for a refill. Opposite, the race for construction of two huge towers crashes on, sucking up the entire concrete capacity of Euromix!

After a well deserved coffee at Hoy Kitchen and visit to the steps we were picked up by Camden for a fantastic river trip aboard a motorised lifeboat, which first took us out onto the Thames before returning us to the nest of houseboats at 4 Creekside.

Please take that trip sometime, till then check this video! More photos here.

At the furthest reaches of the tidal creek, Friends of Brookmill Park held their quarterly meeting to map out activities for the rest of spring and early summer. Their re planting program in the formal garden adjacent to Stephen Lawrence centre is proceeding well with fresh lavender beds and new roses. Mariner and beekeeper Julian Kingston will talk about local shipbuilding at a fundraiser event in Brookmill pub on June 7th, space is limited to 30 seats so get your ticket soon!

That’s just a few weeks before the Creeknet Symposium on 20th and 21st June. DIY networks of Deptford Creek host partners from the MAZI project in Germany, Switzerland and Greece to attend this ‘cross pollination event’, all are welcome.

The first day begins at Hoy Kitchen on Creek Road with rolling breakfast welcome, exhibition of local images and stories followed by mass low tide walk at Creekside Discovery Centre at 3pm. The second day starts with project presentations and lunch at Stephen Lawrence Centre, followed by a visit to Redstart Arts and picnic in Brookmill Park. Finally take a walkshop to the Creek Mouth, crossing bridges and exploring the Creeknet trail.

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Mazizoned

SPC are working with OU and Creeknet friends to establish a network of interactive installations along the tidal creek, that forms a DIY networking trail from Brookmill Park to the Swing Bridge. Using a combination of low power computing and mesh wireless technology, this initiative aims to support existing neighbourhood activity and inform Mazi toolkit development. Follow it along the length of the tidal creek from beacon to beacon, each point presenting locally sourced and augmented information.

Each Mazizone consists of a reconfigured Rasbian operating on a Raspberry Pi that hosts, webserver and database tools that are arranged and refined to suit local conditions. They are connected to existing broadband internet or as standalone ‘offline’ systems. Each offers ‘Creeknet’ wireless access, which responds to your web request by presenting a captive ‘portal’ page loaded with guides for use, selected collaboration tools,  and a view on each neighborhood.

The current MAZI toolkit release is V1.6 with the project sources bug tracking and development notes at Github. We invite all those interested to get in touch, download and install the development images and contribute feedback and follow our progress. The details of how best to configure and deploy a mazizone are being accumulated as we experiment.

Project partners at Univesity of Thessaly in Greece have the job of building and managing the development of the toolkit software, adding and adapting to the evolving requirements. You can preview the default Mazi toolkit, but for better insight into how progress is being made in London please visit one of the Creeknet Mazizones and try out the options. We now also have berryboot versions of the toolkit hosted by Alex Goldcheidt alongide the hundreds of alternative OS for the Raspberry Pi at Berryserver.

Since loosing the boat in a fire in January, Minesweeper Collective are operating in Deckspace and at DIY Space for London. Their Undercurrents gallery at Birdsnest was first to be installed to support the group art exhibitions updated each month.

We have been meeting Creeknet friends regularly at Hoy kitchen on Creek Road where a Mazizone was installed in March. We will return there this coming Monday at noon for a research session with those specifically interested in clean-up of the Hoy Steps.

Artist Karen Barnes mazizone is Eileen Ford named after her pinhole camera truck parked in the yard at N02 Creekside. It has a built in camera and other sensory extensions, fitted inside her human sized portable ‘box camera’ to record and publish pinhole images on the move. It operates in ‘offline’ mode and presents a guestbook, image galleries, and reports on changing conditions.

When we return to Brookmill Park in May the fourth Creeknet Mazizone will be installed at the Park keepers hut by the pond. It will help friends of Brookmill Park co-ordinate public events, present wildlife images and environmental conditions.

Our UK partners at Open University have set up a mazizone installation of their own to demonstrate to their colleagues and experiment with new features whilst in their work space in Milton Keynes.

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Concatenated

SPC have continued to support the development of MayDay Rooms throughout a cathartic ‘rejuvenation’ last year and spring clean of the whole building this month. The recent open meeting in March, marked a determination to attune to the needs of dedicated users attending, and prepare for intensification of use throughout 2017.

One persistent question from the meeting reflected shades of confusion around the key objective for the MayDay Rooms, to make community archives available for review and reactivation. “How do we view and make use the collection?“, a question we have all at some time asked!

MDR has maintained a conviction to hold regular activation sessions, that revisit collected archives with their depositors and researchers, along with groups of interested onlookers and inquisitors. This valuable process is vital to the health and vitality of the organisation and it’s future. The facilitation role in this respect, is a unique and underestimated contribution to the collection as a whole. It’s a process that breathes life into the deeper folds of each story retold, regenerating interest and attention onto the objectives of the original activity, reframing it’s potential.

Operation of activation sessions remains the duty of MDR archivist in response to public requests. However, this need not remain an exclusive duty of the part time staff but could well be adopted by support groups. Questions about the function of MDR could be best answered through an activation experience and cement relationships through shared archive experiences. Such a group need only assemble and assume the role.

A good portion of the huge Statewatch archive has been hosted at MDR since early 2015 and this spring will relocate to one of the MDR resident spaces to be manages more directly. An active friends group, helps raise funds to support it’s continuity. They join the Pan African Archive on the third floor where June Givanni curates a definitive heritage collection of image, audio and film works from the African diaspora.

Longer standing resident groups at MDR have shuffled around into more dedicated spaces. Caiwu, the youngest and most active cleaners and industrial workers union in the building contiue to host their support network and weekend social gatherings.  IWGB, IWW, Strike! magazine and close cousins LuckyRug (risograph user group) will gather across the hall from the MDR office space leaving the first floor clear for popular use as both reading and screening meeting spaces.

Don’t leave it too long before you make you way to MDR for a review of it’s fascinating collections and to book yourself in, for an archival activation experience soon.

MAYDAY ROOMS | 88 Fleet Street  | London EC4Y 1DH | United Kingdom

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Marking bloom

As we concluded the third Creeknet meet-up at Stephen Lawrence Centre this week, it was great to welcome this group of residents from the boating community of Deptford Creek.

The large converted coal barge, Luna, moors alongside a nest of boats in the mud at No2 Creekside and this is where will next meet-up again in March. It’s home to ten young people who share the residence and have expressed enthusiasm to shape their own futures here by improving communications between boat owners and public awareness of river living. Concerns over continuity of mooring for the many boats here is uppermost in everyones mind as development plans emerge that throw assumption about tenure into questions.

When we last spoke to Julian Kingston, he mentioned how difficulties in communications between the new LLP owning the yard, the DLR and boat owners was provoking anxiety. Land access here for moored boats depends on continued good will and understanding from all parties. Shoreside utilities, access to clean water and sanitation, power and telecoms are vital.

The bees too depend on stable environment and the apiary on shore here has 3 busy hives to service. Deptford honey is excellent as it is made with nectar collected from wild flowers of the creek as well as from domestic garden varieties and tree blossom. Interested in beekeeping? then visit Park Beekeeping for expert advise and top quality equipment.

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Post unitary

Ongoing MAZI research into DIY networks and complimentary solutions has turned up many great options. Our current favorite is Sandstorm.io a a collaboration suite of open source software which continues to develop and swell with features.

Three new servers in centres of activity, have been introduced where the rising need for safe, secure and stable alternatives to corporate cloud is called for by subscribers and collaborators.

DHC | MDR | friends

Friends at Brookmill Park and Deptford Creek currently share access to their Sandstorm tools installed onto an Atom powered mini PC which is well suited to the task. Demands on the server is still very modest at this point but with new friends gaining skills and interest this will change. They have started making use of the Etherpad (whiteboard), Davros (file store) and Weekan board (list manager) tools. Both groups are still practicing with their respective wordpress based websites at commercial webhosts though these too could be hosted within Sandstorm.

At Deptford Housing Coop the members share FTTC broadband access over a structured wired network and wireless access system SPC installed in 2003 and continues to maintain. Over a hundred people a day rely on continuity of access for their web, mail and media needs. More recent requests for shared resources and services have mostly been met with addition of an other sandstorm server here very recently.

Mayday Rooms in Fleet Street hosts an array of archive activation, cultural collaboration and social intervention processes which grows in scope and it’s requirement of network resources, secure messaging, project management and collective development tools. Many of the weekly processes of booking rooms, engaging archives and holding together of the administration tasks depends on email, web and face to face arrangements being accessible and track-able. Some of these tasks may well be better suited to alternatives, some of which are well supported in Sandstorm so we are giving it a go!

You can’t rush at any of these solutions in the hope that all difficulties and obstructions to communication fade to transparency on contact. Working locally and acknowledging limited abilities, preserving a strong sense of respect and appreciation for privacy concerns, demands attention and requires dedication of effort on us all.

Mazi is well on track to present combinations of network and collective development tools in 2018, a pick and mix of hardware, software and scenario conditioning, though we are not there yet! Adoption of ultra low power ARM based pc’s like Raspberry Pi for a multitude of tasks is on a rocket. On the flipside, a mountain of small format, legacy laptop and powerful low cost / free desktop i386 hardware is in great abundance, a glut even, these are perfect hosts for Sandstorm.

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Layered stakes

The very recent death of friend and collaborator Armin Medosch has us all shocked. A stomach cancer diagnosis in December 2016 was all too late to avert such rapid and devastating effects.

We last met at a memorable post Hybrid Cities dinner in Athens, September 2015,  where he had talked on ‘Cities of the Sun’ and recalled early wireless network adventures in Hackney, celebrating the network commons process so many of us continue to work on. Perhaps there is a recording of the keynote he presented there..? I just found this interesting talk on the rise of Network Commons, one more of so many on a wide range of subjects!

Tributes from friends and colleagues around Europe are stacking up in Nettime.org each pinpointing personal reflections on his great character, warmth and passion for the social in digital, a critical eye on culture, network politics, his commitment and courage. Obituaries in Rizhome, Wired and Telepolis now also detailing a life’s work and lasting impact. Now also a book! wow so perhaps this account will continue to be amended for a while!

Memories flying thick and fast, thinking back over many years of his intensity and enthusiasm. We first met in autumn of 1995 when he arrived at Obsolete offices in Clink Street, fresh from a bruising experience aboard ms.Stubnitz. His passion then, fixed on non-linear video archives, but we were already too distracted by WWW to take it on. It wasn’t long before he was in regular contact, at Backspace, activating Cybersalon, co-ordinating Artservers Unlimited , always making Waves!

His constructive involvement in so many activities, with such critical sensibility, influenced and inspired us all. During so much of this period we were all effected by the ‘rush’, spinning ahead of the times. We ranted about DIY networking ideas that fused as Consume, morphed with Berlon into a mesh awakening that grew internationally.

Armin wrote for Mute, Telepolis, Acoustic Space and formulated the MA in Digital Theory at Ravensbourne College. He launched into work on The Next layer blog whilst compiling of his New Tendencies Phd at Goldsmiths and delivered talks at many public events across Europe. With the publishing of most recent book New Tendencies, he was again traveling to promote ideas and expand minds with flair and passion.

Now as ever he has rushed on to cross the gap ahead of us all, to who knows where! See you on the other side mate. Thanks for everything.

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Yard armed

YT first met with Spacestudios some 15 years ago at a time when Gini Simpson was arranging a media lab for the Bridget Riley studios, Hackney Wick. We climbed up to the roof on at least one occasion, plotting how we could establish a wireless bridge to the Triangle Studios on Mare Street to link the artist communities together and stimulate interaction.

We all got swept up in a storm of enthusiasm for DIY infrastructure projects, open source software, file-sharing and peer 2 peer experiments but perhaps inevitably some of these grander plans have escaped us!

This week we will be visiting a small yard in an all but forgotten corner of Islington north London to install wireless access points that will share a broadband service between the 12 artist studios. It’s very easy to imagine horses and carriages clattering over the cobbles, the shuffling of hay bales and the banter of stable life. Today it is used by a quiet group of fine artists, ceramicists and sculptors. All continue to brave the chill of the Victorian work-spaces and period drama of the unique setting. I hope they find the value of  latter-day networking  outweighs the interruption of such tranquility.

Many of the buildings in the huge Spacestudio network across east London, now boast excellent internet access but rarely share local resources. It doesn’t follow that they identify with each others work online or express an awareness of the untapped potential for collaboration these network services still hold. 

SPC continues to test and press for greater experimentation and adoption of locally hosted network services. Our current favorite is the Sandstorm collaborative suite which offers a huge range of secure communication tools and will run locally on a low power PC. It’s very easy to install and operate and will run ok on legacy hardware so give it a go!

The MAZI toolkit will also offer a unique combination of options to support the ‘collective awareness platforms for sustainability’ motives. The latest custom version for the Raspberry Pi offers a selection of network, collaboration sensor and democracy tools.

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SLC meet-ups

During February, we are hosting Creeknet meet-ups at Stephen Lawrence Centre where friends of Brookmill Park and Deptford Creek will gather to share stories and publish reports.

As part of the MAZI pilot we are all working together to install interactive beacons along the creek where significant points of interest and DIY network activity coincide.

We have booked three weekly meetings in this riverside lecture room, starting Monday 13th Feb so please join us there between 12 and 4pm. Please register so we know how may to expect at lunch!

Our emphasis is to support the many local groups along the creek as they promote their respective activities and publish to their networks. In preparation, we have been resetting some of their legacy, corrupted and entangled WordPress installations, so a clean start is possible!

Friends of Brookmill Park are now ready to bring their designs into effect to feature the nature and diversity of the park, planting plan and to begin animal species monitoring.

Terry Edwards is a local musician and model gardener who leads the Crossfields Estate community garden project Wonky Prong and has begun posting and planting again in time for spring. He may well join Karen Barnes on Wednesday’s open mic event at the Birdsnest.

She has been very busy scanning some of the many pinhole camera prints she has made in situ around Deptford as well as on occasional trips to Westminster. They feature at thearmed909 alongside accounts of living and working in the area.  The Undercurrents gallery in the back room of the Birdsnest has been showing Minesweeper art and photographs of the boat that survived the devastating fire in January. Karen recently added a Piratebox to collect up some memorabilia and share donated audio recordings and artwork. Next time you pop in for a pint, try logging on to check the collection.

Friends of Deptford Creek, started by those living on house boats in the creek also have a refreshed website to voice their current concerns not least in light of redevelopment plans effecting their mooring and land access at 2 Creekside. John Cierach is also the owner of 3 Creekside where we recently reviewed the plans for development to feature stacked shipping containers and reworked mooring strategy that won’t include all the current boats!

A Kumu map of working relationships between interested parties along Deptford Creek is emerging form the mud of our interaction. Further interventions and activity will continue to extend these impressions, your comments and contributions are most welcome.

What are the shitboats you may well ask

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Hoy Meet-ups

This coming Monday 23rd January we will again meet up with Creeknet friends to continue some great conversations and push on with DIY network research. Our host for the last few Mazi Mondays has been the Hoy Kitchen on Creek Road at the Deptford and Greenwich border by Creek Bridge. We have been starting with teas/lunch at noon and drifting on in discussion till 4pm.

Claire is the proprietor of Hoy and grew up in the Hoy Inn as it was previously known. Her family moved into the area from Belfast in the 70’s at a time when SE8 was comparatively naked, few street lights, road signs and empty buildings in a very industrial maritime landscape. The pub was a notorious social hub and she has many stories about these earlier times to tell!  Her great familiarity with local history, society and current wave of transformation is proving most entertaining and illuminating.

When Quayside redevelopment took off in the streets all around them  during the 90’s her family faced fresh and unexpected challenges. Land which had always been linked to the Hoy was assumed part of the property development package. It triggered a fight to hold on to access and the infamous Hoy Steps. Successful but lengthy resistance has meant that the steps have been retained but a road wraps around the building to the new build properties adjacent.

Perhaps as a consequence, Claire has good contacts with local business including Millenium Quay who have responsibility for the recently installed swing bridge. She has also suggested making historical steps accessible for the first time since the dispute!

The illustrious privateer Sir Francis Drake may well have been knighted by Queen Elisabeth by the Hoy Steps, his ship ‘The Golden Hind’ certainly ended it’s days in the creek, scrapped to shore up the sea wall of the creek. Today the replica boat is a popular tourist destination in Clink Street by London Bridge very close to our very own Backspace which prevailed till turn of the last century!

Please join us in February when we will meet-up at Stephen Lawrence Centre for a further three weeks of more practical workshops At these events we will work with low-cost technologies to host and promote a range of DIY neighbourhood publishing tools, discover more about the options for OWN mesh access meet its resident groups and friends from that area of the river by Brookmill Park.

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Brackish and Brawn

Over a year ago, YT attended Transmediale media arts festival in Berlin to meet up with old friends living in the city and introduce them to members of the Mazi project attending for the first time. One of the first panels Global Ports still resonates as we edge forward with Creeknet pilot in Deptford. Much like in Port of Hamburg, the PLA (Port of London Authority) conforms a hydrachy of power, governing access to the waterways of the city, monitoring shipping and controlling all but the the weather and tides.

For those who are dependent on the Thames and it’s tributaries for transport,  trade and residence, there are very few resources available to guide use and track changing conditions.  It’s the knowledge of the boating community and their interpretation of PLA bylaws that hold sway here. Resistance, skulks the waters edge, using forgotten inlets, overgrown steps and derelict locks, to retain river access and uphold liberties. Mooring rights and tidal rituals, ebb and flow along the river wall, entangled in mooring chains, revealed as the river bed is drained by tides.

The Thames river wall all the way into Deptford Creek is part of the UK coastline, it’s beaches are monitored and rubbish cleared. Material on the shore clusters much where it was dropped into the water so great collections of red brick, clay pipes, animal bones, oyster shells and drift wood colour the shorelines in alignment to forgotten industry. Warehouses and wharves are fast being replaced by multi-story condos, only a very few remain out of the grasp of developers such as the abandoned squatted restaurant on Odessa Street up river in Rotherhithe, where recent Minesweeper fundraiser was such a success.

The burning of the Minsweeper and subsequent loss of mooring access at Brookmarsh Yard in Greenwich, point to an inevitability that will end occupation of these reaches by  the many barges and boats currently resident. Lengthy negotiations and legal actions by boaters to retain land access and not often ended well. Current proposals for redevelopment at 2 Creekside could well be followed by overturning of long established moorings at No4. Meanwhile, redevelopment of No3 and No1 form breaking wave of transformation that may well consume all undeveloped land and property up to Deptford Church Street.

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Sweeping for power

Since first writing this report the Minesweeper has been destroyed by a terrible fire on 5th Jan 11pm. Despite quick response from the London Fire Service and attendance of a dozen fire engines, it was all over by 5am – toast. Adjacent boats were also effected as was the mechanics workshop in the Brookmash estate. YT visited on Friday and stood on the river wall there with some Minesweeper Collective members looking over the side into the abyss of charred timbers and blackened soup of belongings, chairs, books, some vinyl records and somewhat strangely, bags of charcoal untouched by the fire.

For those living and working aboard the Minesweeper, keeping warm during winter months presents the greatest hardship. Wood burners are kept alight 24/7 that require continual feeding. A store of suitable timber has to be collected throughout autumn and kept dry for use. Neighbours in in Brookmash yard supply the off-cuts from their furniture production. (as well as supply power the broadband wireless uplink)

The collective recently purchased a new AC generator after many months fundraising and having experienced breakdown of previous secondhand units, however bad luck has again struck, an oil leak forces it’s return for repair, leaving them without power again. A new wind turbine is ready for installation, to provide the top up charge their battery array needs if it to remain in good condition to supply 12v for lighting and laptop charging. The print working areas of the minesweeper already have bright LED worklights fitted, with more needed throughout, as well as external motion triggered perimeter and safety lighting.

An energy audit was carried out on the boat late summer as part of the Creeknet pilot, which revealed just how much energy the print curing and screen cleaning processes demand, too much of a shortfall for any solar or wind turbine system to close. Gaining a better understanding about how off-grid power systems need to be configured and managed has been difficult, though progress is being made. We recently visited other boats on the creek and noted how their installed systems reliably store and distribute available power as needed, so will return for their support if the need arises.

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Ripped and Yarned

It’s the end of 2016, an extraordinary year that has surprised us all for it’s contrasts and contradictions, horror and hubris. Any anticipation of sudden enlightenment or even delayed reaction to the scale of discord seems far fetched, yet somehow fresh hope springs with each new year. 2017 may test that theory!

Cast in this light and with rising sense of expectation from those around us,  we set out on the second phase of neighbourhood engagement and activity around our Mazi pilot – Creeknet. It explores use of DIY networking methods and promotion of ‘offline‘ information systems, that express awareness, sustainability and determination for greater data autonomy.

To date, we have met with a wide range of local people living and working alongside Deptford Creek, each with a view on local issues and an intensity to shape outcomes in whatever form of public campaign or personal agenda they may fix on. Help us identify the tools for success in such situations and to foster the development of home grown options to introduce into the MAZI toolkit.

We begin a series of weekly meetings and workshops at venues up and down the creek this month, to channel some energies into discovery, discussion and expression on subjects closest to heart. The quality of lived environment tops that chart, as any local resident, worker or student will assert. Unbridled property speculation, deteriorating air quality and wealth disparity, contribute to the sense of dis-empowerment, isolation and anxiety for the future.

Much we have learned, as the storm of chaos around us builds, reminds us that we can never again take personal freedoms and privacy for granted. As of 30th December, the Investigatory Powers Act permits targeted interception of communications, bulk collection and interception of communications data by UK government and intelligence agencies.

Educating and informing ourselves on conditions of change are now critical steps for us to take for future health of communities, cultures and capital. Our faith in each other, open collaboration and social justice are at stake. Your insight, inventiveness and expertise are key to unlocking neighbourhood value and identifying solutions to act on locally.

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