Thank fuck it’s February!

This last month has been significant for me. I’ve had some personal struggles with depression, insomnia and anxiety that have led me to paying particular attention to the things I can do differently to solve these problems. I’ve been trying to compile an awareness of activities to fill my days and weeks with which will not just allow me to  function more effectively so I can handle my antics but more so will allow me to thrive and operate optimally with joy, purpose, happiness & fulfilment.

One of the things was to write a visualisation at 8.30am each morning of what I was going to do to have a good day. Then at the end of each day I’d write a reflection, which tried to capture all that had been good and all that I had to be grateful for. I want to take this opportunity to commit to February being a month where I implement the things I know about how to thrive. I’m going to treat this blog post as part visualisation part public commitment and follow it up each week with a compilation of daily reflections which aim to help me develop my own self-awareness and potentially help others with some of their own challenges.

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On top of having all of our basic needs met, I believe that true happiness comes in carving out a life that is congruent with ones deepest values and beliefs whilst understanding our interdependent social nature and therefore the absolute central importance of compassionately connecting, cooperating and contributing with others. I believe we need to develop our awareness of the corporate capitalist consumer culture that surrounds us and how it’s oppressive structures, ideologies, demands and methods impact upon our well being. A root part of the puzzle for me is working out what we can do to change that and build lives and a society together that doesn’t make us miserable. More specifically how can we, you, I, utilise our skills, interests, knowledges and experiences in a way that contributes to a concrete shift towards a more liberated and healthy society?

Whether rightly or wrongly, for the last 15 years I’ve almost religiously written a to-do list at the start of each week where I’ll set goals in different areas of my life. It’s easy to lose sight of or sacrifice some areas in order to achieve success in others. My approach to life has been to try and keep moving, one foot in front of the other, in a relatively balanced manner, in the direction of my ideals. Of course, I am as skewiff as the next person and have lost sight of what matters most on many many occasions. This approach towards each week, however, invites me to remember important things I often find so easy to neglect, like drinking water, writing lyrics, eating or tidying my room, to name a few.

What follows is each area that I currently set goals in followed by some general aspirations and commitments that I aim to fulfil to make February as fabulous and fulfilling as I can. Wonderful.

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HEALTH & WELLBEING
Whilst tussling with with the aforementioned emotional adversaries of depression, anxiety and insomnia I allowed myself to delve deeper into the dark depths of the drink. Every night without fail. I couldn’t sleep without it. In order to break that habit I need to take a holistic approach to my health that serves to quench the thirsty urges. Here’s how I intend to live healthy, stop drinking and improve my sleep.

I’m going to eat a highly probiotic, nutrient dense diet, eliminating all processed foods and unnatural sugars whilst drinking filtered water throughout the day. I’m going to commit to meditating daily whilst bathing in Epsom bath salts, doing a daily Qigong or Yoga routine and doing a Paul Chek workout, swim or run every day. I shall wind down with valarian tea and various sleep aids, from hypnosis to binaural beats.

All the money that I save from drinking alcohol I shall save and use to repay all debts I have and then to treat myself to a festival, holiday or retreat. I shall also train for a 10k run followed by my first 13 mile in order to raise money for a good cause.

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THOSE CLOSEST, IN MOST NEED OR DESERVING

I want to make sure that I am making time for the people I love and care for the most. I also want to make sure that I don’t lose sight of my relative privileges and those less fortunate who suffer most from the myriad of social injustices that plague our society. When I say most deserving not wishing to come across as judgemental but ultimately we all only have so much time, love and energy to give and I want to make sure that I lend my support to those who are lending their support to those who need it most. Angels walk amongst us, often burnt out, stressed, anxious, depressed and exhausted by the weight of the worlds problems. So, throughout Feb I am going to consciously consider those closest, in most need or deserving and make weekly efforts in their directions.

SUSTAINABILITY & ETHICAL CONSUMPTION

Consumer capitalism has left the planet and it’s inhabitants reeling. Large corporations dominate our lives, exploiting workers, plundering resources, manipulating our minds with advertisements whilst encroaching further into more and more aspects of our day. It’s no exaggeration to exclaim ecocide on the horizon and although we need radical social change bought about by grass roots movements built for the task, a part of that puzzle is pondering the ways in which we can make a difference every day with our consumption habits and lifestyle choices.

Throughout February I am going to aspire to limit the amount of water that I use when cleaning and washing up, I am going to fix my bike, walk more, take the bus if necessary but avoid taxi’s at all costs. I am going to avoid eating meat because of the environmental impact as well as the cruelty bound up in the process. I am also going to commit to buying all of my food from Sound Bites the ethical whole food workers cooperative and the excellent high quality biodynamic Trinity Farm. Regarding other consumption choices I shall commit to local, independent & charity shops where possible in addition to recycling, reusing and renewing.

Regarding my own sustainability I shall aim to stay on top of my rent, bills and continue to pay back debts that have regrettably accrued from good friends helping me out a lot last year. I shall stay open to opportunities to make money out of my passions in ways that are in line with my values as much as possible.

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BABY PEOPLE, INTERCOLLEGE

I have worked as a rap therapist and creative mentor at Baby People for the last 8 years and there is no where I’d rather work. It’s an incredible organisation that works with disadvantaged young people who have been let down by the school system, have learning difficulties or various other needs. My aim for February would be to complete a Gold Arts award with a small and highly talented group of young people I work with whilst continuing to support the other young people I work with on a one to one level as best I can.

For the last year I have also been involved with a project called Education for Global Responsibility through Intercollege UK. With partners from around the EU we have developed teaching resources to help young people learn and develop their knowledge and capacities as active global citizens. Eventually schools all over the EU shall be certified as globally responsible schools upon implementing and embedding the methods in their curriculum. We are currently at the testing stage and so I am seeking teachers and youth workers that would be willing to help by trying out some of the methods developed. If you can help then please get in touch.

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…pr@xis?.. PROBIOTICS, CANCER SUPPORT & THERAPY

Since my father was diagnosed with cancer in 2013 I have been immersing myself in the world of natural cancer treatment and have given support and advice to many people interested in natural health. Throughout February I shall commit to offering my time and support to anyone who needs it.

It’s within this context that last May …pr@xis?.. probiotics was born. Since then I’ve been fermenting vegetables and tea for their medicinal and therapeutic qualities. Throughout February I aim to produce some special anti-cancer batches of veg and tea that include particularly healing ingredients. I shall also introduce Coconut Kefir which is a sugar and caffeine free 100% organic and natural highly probiotic fermented beverage made using coconut water. I shall continue to commit to prioritising meeting the needs of cancer patients by putting together probiotic anti-cancer packs and I shall also begin to organise the …pr@xis?.. probiotics 1 year anniversary.

10% of all …pr@xis?.. probiotic sales throughout February shall be going to support the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock who are opposing the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline.

This time last year, thanks to the training and encouragement of the incredible Anthony Jacquin I began embarking down an exciting path as a Hypnotherapist. I was running free sessions about once every fortnight with relative success as a part of my ongoing training yet lost confidence after a difficult session and decided to take a break. Due to how life changing and empowering Hypnotherapy can be I knew that I would pick it back up again once I had the time and space to do so. I shall be contacting previous clients that were waiting patiently for their sessions as well as putting a call out for additional clients. If you would like to change the way that you think, feel or behave in anyway whatsoever then please feel free to get in touch. I would love to be able to help.

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…pr@xis?.. WRITER & PERFORMER

Last year I released my first ever album of music, performed at my first ever festival as a spoken word artist and also had the privilege of joining my friends Hallouminati on stage at the spectacular Boom Town. This year I want to build upon that, performing at more events as a spoken word artist and working on a brand new self-titled release that shall be be created taking an innovative and participatory approach. As far as February’s concerned my aim is to start applying to perform at festivals as …pr@xis?.. and to finish the first and only solo track for the next release. For me a part of being a relevant writer, MC, spoken word artist, performer, etc, is to be constantly educating oneself. A part of that process for me is watching documentaries and reading books. One book I’m currently reading which I’m finding massively informative is Creating Freedom by Raul Martinez. Eye opening, provocative and inspiring. Check it out. x

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CITY-ZEN, DERBY PEOPLE’S DIARY, SOCIAL CHANGE LIBRARY

City-Zen is an artivism and edutainment collective that I sparked off with a loose collective of like-minds back in 2006. Shit’s blatently going crazy in the world of politics and it feels more than ever before we need to get active in empowering each other and improving our communities. It’s with this in mind that this year promises to be the busiest year City-Zen has ever had.

We shall be organising 3 City-Zen skill shares a month, a City-Zen One Mic every two months with a City-Zen Social in between, every two months. Each month there shall be a skill share to do with personal empowerment another to do with social change and on the 3rd week of every month Lucy Kay’s excellent nutrition skill share. The skill share’s are the first three Monday’s of every month from 6pm – 8pm at Boyer Street Community Rooms, Boyer Street, Derby. I shall be running the first one of February this Monday 6th on Facilitation and how to run empowering, participatory skill shares or workshops. Please feel free to come along.

The next City-Zen One Mic is on Friday March 3rd at The Maypole and we’re raising money for International Women’s Day Derby Festival, so throughout February we shall be organising guest artists and inviting people to come along and perform. Get in touch if you’d like to. Before that, in partnership with the Derby People’s Diary, we have the first ever City-Zen Social which shall be taking place on Saturday February 18th from 8pm @ The Maypole. The Social is just that, an opportunity for all of us to come together, have a drink and hang out. We shall be putting together a collective public playlist of your favourite tunes which shall be playing in the back ground on the night and there will be a mic on stage for any announcements. Feel free to bring any flyers, zines, pamphlets, etc, to hand out. All donations shall go towards supporting the Sioux Tribe of Standing Rock who are opposing the Dakota Access Oil Pipeline.

Myself, Ruth and Laura met up on Monday to discuss Derby People’s Diary, which is an awesome project that provides a calendar for people to find out about personal well being and social justice events in Derby. Throughout February we are going to give the diary a bigger social media publicity push and also team up with City-Zen to organise a bi-monthly social as mentioned above.

10 years ago myself, Ruth and Kirby set up the Social Change Library which resides above Sound Bites in Yaffle Cafe. It has hundreds of excellent titles that cover a wide array of issues and ideas that can massively equip and empower us to create social change. At the Derby People’s Diary meeting myself and another activist friend discussed meeting up to discuss (As you do when at activist meetings) rebranding the library as the Derby People’s Library, inviting guest speakers and do public events to promote the library. We’ll be having that meeting before the City-Zen Social on February 18th, which I very much look forward to.

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Reading back over my aspirations for a fulfilling and fabulous February I not only feel excited but also relieved. I feel committed to making big changes and know that I’ll feel so much happier, energetic and fulfilled when I do. How about yourself? How do you feel about your life, the world around you and how you spend your time? What do you do to make yourself happier and help the people around you that need it most? What are you doing to move at whatever pace works for you in the directions of your dreams? What questions do you think you should be asking yourself? What questions do you think we should all be asking ourselves? I look forward to us all living out the answers.

Love & liberation

Jonezy aka …pr@xis?..

P.S. This blog post is dedicated to the countless wonderful friends and relative strangers that reached out to me throughout Christmas and January. It made a bigger difference than anyone realises.

Grateful reflections on 2016

Towards the end of December leading into the first fortnight of January, as a result of various unfortunate overlapping factors, I experienced an intense surge of depression, anxiety & paranoia. A point came a few days ago where I knew I had to pull myself up and do whatever I could to change the way I thought and felt. I made a long list of tricks to tick.

One of them was this: To write a reflection of 2016 that touches upon the various projects, events and activities I got involved in with a sense of appreciation and respect for all the people that made these inherently collective endeavours and achievements possible as well as the importance of the causes, all of which are greater than my own individual grievances. That’s not to undermine the suffering anyone might be enduring but instead for myself to broaden out my perspective and remind myself of the bigger picture and context within which I find myself as well as the positives of the year past. By doing so I hope to improve my outlook on the year ahead.

This blog post is a massive shout out and thank you to everyone involved in the positive movements made in 2016 and everyone yet to bless the year ahead.

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2016 was the year of quite a few firsts for me. I ran my first fundraising 10 mile for Rojava, launched a debut CD album, performed at Boom Town with Hallouminati, sparked off …pr@xis?.. probiotics, cooked for 100 people to help raise money for Rojava, facilitated my first proper fermentation skill share, did a presentation in Denmark about the English education system, delivered my first hypnotherapy sessions, held a couple of stalls selling a few hundred quids worth of probiotic fermented veg and teas and did my debut solo spoken word set at a festival. None of these things would’ve happened if it wasn’t for the support, cooperation and encouragement from countless people. I’m so grateful to everyone who made and continues to make the things I do possible.

JANUARY
I stepped into January committed to having a month off the booze, something which I have always struggled with. A fresh start had definitely been needed and I had some brand new projects to focus on. I started a job working with Daniel King at Nottingham Trent University called ‘Democratic Renewal in Civil Society’ which is an excellent progressive academic research project which seeks to explore the ways in which we might be able to make society more horizontal, directly democratic, equal and empowering for all of us. At the same time I was also invited to be a part of an ambitious project called Education for Global Responsibility by my friend Daniel Shilcock from Intercollege UK. The aim of the project was to help enable and empower teachers from across the EU to better teach Global Citizenship education. My role was to research and write a report that captured the extent to which schools in the UK were currently effectively teaching Global Citizenship Education. I also began to deliver my first ever Hypnotherapy sessions thanks to the support and mentorship of my friend and globally renowned Derby based hypnotherapist Anthony Jacquin. A group of us were attending regular Derby Campaign Against Fascism & Racism meetings. I attended some Humanitarian Assistance Awareness training thanks to Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity and also attended planning meetings for both Derby People’s Diary & City-Zen who were both looking to organise public events to empower the community.

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FEBRUARY
Throughout Feb I was mainly focussed on writing the report for the Education for Global Responsibility project whilst also organising the first seminar for the Democratic Renewal in Civil Society project. Planning meetings for Derby People’s Diary continued as we discussed how to organise an event which aimed to raise awareness about the diary whilst simultaneously bringing people together in a way that built practical solidarity. It was decided we’d organise a 2 part event called Building Solidarity In Derby. City-Zen collective in collaboration with Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity decided to organise a 10th year celebration for City-Zen that would raise money for Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity. At the end of February there was an significantly inspiring action filling a shipping container with donations to be taken to Syria. Loads of people from different backgrounds and faiths turned out and pulled together in order to pack the container and ultimately benefit the lives of some of those in most need. A deeply rewarding and fulfilling evening. Throughout February I was also recording and organising the launch of my debut album The Road Less Travelled. We decided to make a music video for one of my favourite tracks off the album called ‘Bless Your Soul’ which features Jamie Joseph, Lemz, Evergreen & Michael David Jenkinson. Daniel Bennett from Daniel James Agency kindly gave his time up to shoot and edit it, giving us significant discount due to it being affiliated with Baby People.

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MARCH
At the start of March I performed at the Contax: Mushroom Tea House fundraiser alongside loads of great acts at Ryans.  A few days later I boarded a plane to Denmark for the Education for Global Responsibility project where myself and friends from other partner countries met to present to each other our findings regarding the state of our respective education systems. It was such a delight to be given the opportunity to work with such positive and passionate people. At the same time back home the first seminar of the Democratic Renewal in Civil Society seminar was taking place. Upon returning, myself and the Derby People’s Diary were making preparations for the first Building Solidarity in Derby event which took place on the same day as my debut album ‘The Road Less Travelled’ launch. Both events were wicked and there were loads of peeps involved in making them both possible. Huge respect to all of the individuals and organisations that were in attendance at the Building Solidarity in Derby event and another huge shout to everyone involved in making my album and launch possible, it was definitely a highlight of my year and all the money raised on the door and from sales went to support progressive integrative cancer care charity Yes To Life.

APRIL
April ushered in the City-Zen 10th anniversary fundraiser for Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity. It was a great family friendly day with games, food, entertainment and much more. So many people pulled together in order to make it happen and we raised about £400 for DRS whilst also inspiring the renaissance of City-Zen as an artivism and edutainment collective. The following weekend was part 2 to the Derby People’s Diary event Building Solidarity in Derby which had a good turn out and response to the open space technology meeting I co-facilitated which invited people to ask important questions and learn together about the answers. The first open City-Zen meeting took place in order to consult people about what they wanted City-Zen to be and some exciting ideas were generated.

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MAY
After receiving a surprisingly enthusiastic response to a post I put out on facebook regarding some probiotic veg and water I had knocking about, an unexpected yet exciting project was born. …pr@xis?.. probiotics fermented vegetables and tea, an independent project ran by myself from my kitchen with an aim of promoting the benefits of probiotic produce whilst also raising awareness about related relevant issues.  …pr@xis?.. probiotics quickly gathered momentum thanks to the kind support of many different people and became one of the main projects to engage my focus throughout the rest of the year. Mel Lowe from The Fig Independent Heath Food Store in the Eagle Centre Market has been outstandingly supportive. In May I was also asked to help with the celebration of the centenary anniversary of Pear Tree library. I hosted some of the events, was commissioned by the Lyric Lounge to write an original piece and also ran some workshops with learners with additional learning needs at Bemrose school. My friend Lucy Kay facilitated the first of 6 City-Zen nutrition skill shares which proved to be a great success. May also witnessed the wedlock of my friends Si & Beth who threw the most exquisite wedding festival that was blessed by incredible weather and great company. My dear friend Laura Eades also moved in to where I live at Leftfield for a brief stint. Though short lived it was no doubt a highlight of my year. Miss you Laura.

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JUNE
Towards the start of June I hosted the second part to my album launch ‘The Road Less Travelled’ at the Maypole. This time the emphasis was on the spoken word artists who I collaborated with on the album. It was a really empowering evening which inspired the birth of the City-Zen One Mic nights, the first of which would occur a couple of months later in August. As research assistant I helped to organise the 2nd seminar, possibilities and threats, for the Democratic Renewal in Civil Society research project. Also, after a couple of months of planning meetings City-Zen was back in solidarity with other positive projects and events happening in the city. Our first solidarity event was with the Silk Mill Rally at Cathedral Green. There was a wonderful turn out and we handed out info to raise awareness about the Silk Mill Lockouts and also invited people to write their messages to the world on buntin which we photographed and shared on social media.

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JULY
City-Zen’s second solidarity event was at the start of July at a Rojava fundraiser organised by Wild Peak Housing Cooperative. Myself & housemate Laura cooked for 100 people and we also organised spoken word artists to come along and perform. It was a great day overall and loads of quids were raised for Rojava. Later in the month I was approached to help organise Derby’s first Black Lives Matter protest. A diverse yet black-led group managed to pull together a brilliant gathering at the Market square with speakers before a huge protest with hundreds of people through the streets of Derby. We ended up in the back of Baby People with DJ Rudes Staarsound sound system where the party popped until the early evening with no incident. Was a brilliant day. With the sun shining and festival season upon us myself and the Geo-Fest collective sparked it off at Nozstock, which is one of the crew’s favourite festivals. Had such a fun, raucous and happy time performing and raving alongside the Geo crew. So much love for all involved.

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AUGUST
At the start of August I was invited to do my first ever solo festival spoken word performance by Furthest From The Sea at Y Not. Was great to perform and hang out with friends. This was followed by one of the most exciting dates in the 2016 calendar which was undoubtedly Boom Town! This chapter was the year of Revolution and I had the chance to rock it alongside one of my favourite bands of all time and dear friends HallouminatiBoom Town is a mind blowing immersive experience on an epic scale. We absolutely slammed the Jolly Dodger on the Sunday afternoon and I had one of the most fun weekends of the year. Upon returning I had 2 big City-Zen events to organise and host. The first being my first proper fermentation skill share and the second the first ever City-Zen One Mic event. Over 30 people came to the fermentation skill share many of which expressing their inspiration and appreciation which was great. At the City-Zen One Mic event we were raising money for Trinity Farm who had suffered an arson attack. Everyone who performed was ace and a new addition to the Derby spoken word scene had arrived.

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SEPTEMBER
In September, after 6 weeks off, I started back at Baby People. I’ve worked there as a youth worker and creative mentor for nearly 10 years now and can’t think of anywhere I’d rather work in Derby. I also felt honoured to be asked by my Baby People colleague Alex Blood, also of Diggers fame, to be involved in his innovative Arts Council funded project Lives & Lyrics. I was commissioned to write an original piece of spoken word, ‘Run!’, inspired by encounters and interviews with the Muslim Community which was a highly insightful privilege. Myself, Gareth Icke, Mystic, Sam Moore & Paul Herron then toured the songs we wrote throughout the rest of the year. Part 2 of the City-Zen fermentation skill share was ran by the awesome fermentalist Dena Smiles with another great turnout. Derby Feste returned in spectacular style for it’s 10th year and the month was wrapped up nicely with a significant shin dig for my best friend Jen’s 30th birthday at Ryans. I also realise that I’ve got just over a month to train for the Derby 10 mile that I decided to do in order to raise money for Derbyshire Refugee Solidarity and the Rojava Solidarity Network.

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OCTOBER
One of the most fulfilling and important opportunities that I took in 2016 came early October. I had been asked to participate in a youth work human rights training project in Moldova with Intercollege UK, called Actors for Change. Myself & Baby People colleague, Sam Moore, alongside 20 participants from around Europe spent 10 days together exploring questions and issues related to human rights and how we can work with young people to help empower them to protect and promote them. I was also asked to facilitate a session about non-formal education and facilitation which I really enjoyed. It was such a hugely inspiring honour spending time with such positive and compassionate people committed to social justice and human rights. Upon returning it was time to focus my efforts towards training for the Derby 10 mile I’d committed to. I was nervous to say the least.

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NOVEMBER
The big day came on Sunday November 6th and despite my nerves and lack of confidence I managed to run 10 miles in just under 2 hours raising over £1000 for Derbyshire Refugee SolidarityRojava Solidarity Network. The following week I hosted the 2nd City-Zen One Mic which was also a fundraiser for the Rojava Solidarity Network. The atmosphere was amazing with inspiring performances by beautiful people. The spoken word scene in Derby seems to be really thriving. A massive shout out to everyone at Word Wise & Twisted Tongues for all the work they’ve done to build the scene. At the end of November I held my first ever …pr@xis?.. probiotics stall at Compassionate Derby and managed to sell over £300 worth of probiotic produce which I was very happy about. It was such a positive event and I felt very grateful to be a part of it.

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DECEMBER
The last big City-Zen event of the year was the 2016 Festive Fair? Padley fundraiser and alternative market. It was the 4th year running for the event and was a fantastic success. We had loads of incredibly talented stall holders and performers. I did my 2nd ever …pr@xis?.. probiotics stall with help from Pippa Bray who has been incredibly supportive to my efforts. Sophie Sparham, Gareth Icke, Paul Herron & Sam Moore all performed brilliantly and there was a vibrant atmosphere and great attendance. Hats off to the City-Zen collective for making it happen and a special shout out to 11 year olds Sophia Whittaker & Rowan Adamson from Fundraising Kids who donated 100% (£60) of all their earnings to the Padley Group. We managed to raise £400 in total which will go towards supporting the homeless and other vulnerable people in Derby. The following week I was invited to John Port School by Marie Coxon to discuss Anarchism and Rojava with her A Level politics students. It was the 6th and sadly final time as Anarchism is being taken off the curriculum. I was told later that the students found it really interesting, which made me feel happy. Finally, on the 25th December, upon waking with a hangover I headed to the newly opened Lord Nelson pub where I leant a hand to the staff who provided a full Christmas Dinner to the homeless of Derby. It was such a humbling experience. Massive respect to Lucy, Becky, Mairin, Luke and everyone else helping out.

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Western consumer-culture ideology celebrates individualism so much that it can cloud our awareness of the extent to which we depend upon each other. We are an interdependent, interconnected social species and our well being and development, our success and ability to achieve depends always on the cooperation of the collective. Upon reflecting over the last 12 months I feel an overwhelming sense of appreciation, not just for all the peeps of 2016 but for everyone ever who’s ripples have nourished and lifted my existence. Our actions ripple around the universe reverberating for eternity affecting everyone they touch. They get passed from generation to generation as we are constantly being affected, produced, shaped and conditioned by them, whether for good or for bad.

Here’s wishing you all a truly meaningful, fulfilling, happy and whatever you want it to be 2017. May your ripples travel well. Thank you all for everything. I look forward to us all making more magic together. Take care.

Solidarity, Synergy & Praxis

Jonezy

Forks in these roads less travelled

This Sunday March 20th I’ll be launching my debut album The Road Less Travelled on my 35th birthday. In the day time I’ll be helping to host and facilitate the ‘Building Solidarity in Derby’ event which has been organised by the Derby People’s Diary. I’ll then head over to the Hairy Dog and it’s excellent new venue to prepare for the album launch event which shall see myself sparking off the night at 8.30pm performing songs off the album alongside talented collaborating friends who shall then entertain us throughout the rest of the evening. Every penny made from the door and CD sales shall be donated to Yes To Life which are the excellent integrative cancer support charity based in London.

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So what’s the crack?! Debut album at 35? Building Solidarity in Derby? Yes To Life cancer support charity? What’s the deal. Well, a year and a half ago my Dad, Tony Jones, died of the combined affects of brain cancer and conventional treatment. I’d also lost my Mum Mary Jones to a similar combo when I was 3 years old and so recently losing my last remaining parent was quite a traumatic and challenging ordeal. It was in the wake of Dad’s death that I wrote a song dedicated to him called The Road Less Travelled as well a tune with my brothers Paul & Chris which is aptly titled Tony’s Ode. Always seeking silver linings I saw this as an opportunity to turn a negative into a positive and decided to put together a collection of tracks that would then be used to raise awareness and funds for Yes To Life which are an excellent cancer support charity based in London.

So how come this is my debut album? In all honesty I’ve never really felt huge motivation to put in the work needed to release and promote music. I first started rhyming about 15 years ago with my man Alex Blood in Blood & Jonez then later Deprogrammed who toured all over the UK sharing stages with Jehst, Skinny Man, Task Force, Rodney P and the like, including a one off show in Germany back in t’day. Since then however my primary passions have been self-development, studying, global youth work, organising fund and awareness raising events such as City-Zen and various other participatory community development projects. Writing lyrics and MCing has always been something I’ve done yet it’s mainly been something that I’ve taught, a tool that I’ve used working with the youth as well as a vehicle to spread awareness via sporadic spoken word performances.

The ‘Building Solidarity in Derby’ event is one of various example’s of where my ultimate priorities lie which can maybe most palatably put as progressive community development or for want of less syllables –  the revolution! The Derby People’s Diary is currently being used by more than 50 groups in Derby to promote events that fit the criteria of being  either grassroots, community based, alternative or not-for-profit. Part 1 of Building Solidarity in Derby invites groups to come along, find out more about each other and set a collective agenda of questions and issues to be discussed and acted upon at part 2 which is on Sunday April 10th. One of those groups will be Challenge Cancer which is a grassroots group formed by myself, Simon Hancox & Lisa Higginbottom for Challenge Cancer week last October which via various events and activities raised great sums for the Macmillan Unit, Annabel’s Angels & Yes To Life cancer support charities.

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There are countless ways in which we can create cracks in the status quo of capitalist domination. Our real strength manifests when we connect these various cracks and find synergy and liberation in solidarity. Many hands make light work and we are the alternative. It’s up to us to envision, become and build the change we want to see in the world with our heads, hearts and hands, together. For me releasing this album,  collaborating with others and bringing the community together to celebrate each other and the awareness we spread contributes a cacophony of cracks to the culture of creative resistance.

Derby People's Diary screen shot

Maybe that’s all a bit a bit pretentious and lofty or maybe it’s an important reminder to realise the relevance of the various different roles, activities and antics that we all engage with. You might go on a protest against austerity, support public sector workers striking, sign a petition against fracking, buy locally sourced organic food, volunteer humanitarian assistance to Syrian refugees, listen to a friend in need, read a book about post-capitalism, write some poetry on the back of a public toilet door, baby sit for a neighbour, smile and greet each stranger you walk past, attend a public activist solidarity event, donate to an integrative cancer support charity or whatever else you’re about. The ripples which spread are impossible to quantify in terms of their affect, their inspiration, the extent to which they contributed to this consequence or the other, so what’s more important than what? How do we know what best to do with our limited time, energy and resources?

Maybe, do whatever makes sense to you? It’s your life and you’re free to choose. Upon considering the pros and cons of taking the paths well trodden in contrast to those less travelled I wonder what ideas, thoughts and feelings come to the fore of your mind? I wonder what it means to you and everyone else these ideas regarding everything above? I wonder what you think are the most important ideas, questions, issues, thoughts and feelings we should be sharing with each other. I’d love to know so much. Maybe you’ll help me find out. I hope so.

I also want to see as many people on Sunday as want to attend. Both events are going to be entertaining, empowering and inspiring so why not pop along and make it all work for you and others.

In solidarity

…pr@xis?..

Here’s a sneak preview of Buried Alive feat Evergreen and Abakus

To listen to or download The Road Less Travelled please visit:
https://collectivepraxis.bandcamp.com

Special thanks to DSJ Beats, James Hayes, Phase2Productions, Blakstar, JD, Swifty, Evergreen, Lemz, Michael Jenkinson, Abakus, Chris Jones, Paul Jones, Li Laurent, Jamie Joseph, Dwaine Hayden, Sarai Jazz, Jurrell Wood, Sophie Sparham, Stan Grant, Johnny Swinhoe, Jo ‘Spice’ Blackwood, Dathan Horridge, Andrew Stanley, Carl Woodland, Brent Waltham, Jay Rankin, Daniel Bennett, Anthony Jacquin and everyone else who’s given their time, energy and talent to the cause. Massive love, thanks and respect.

2016: Hitting the ground running but where?

Easy now!

Hope everyone reading this is on the up. January can be an odd month for many. For some fresh starts ease their festive health hangovers into action whilst for others admirable intentions are prematurely dropped as new years resolutions flop. Everyone’s different no doubt.

For me this year I’ve felt little choice but to try and hit the ground running. In previous years I’ve used January as a bit of a buffer, a runway for the rest of the year, an opportunity to go easy on myself whilst recovering from the strain placed on health & finances by the festive period. This year is different for a few reasons.

The main one’s being that I’m letting go of all the routines a best friend and lover of four years build together whilst simultaneously taking on 3 new jobs alongside my previous primary commitments as a youth worker & creative mentor. Additionally and in some respects most importantly I’m slaying and laying to rest a drink problem which had regrettably become very real over recent years.

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Commission by Lloyd Parker

In order to cultivate the motivation and commitment needed to stave off the sadness and temptation I’ve chosen to adopt a holistically healthy lifestyle which in itself takes some doing. By rising early and practising yoga or qigong depending on my mood, meditating before knocking back a highly blitzed smoothie packed with various leaves, fruit, nuts and seeds and incorporating cycling, swimming, walking, reading, creative writing, lots of water and 7 hours kip I’ve managed to maintain a relatively chipper mood.

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Daily breakfast smoothie ingredients

I’ve also made a conscious effort to see friends and not shy away from the pub, bar or party, unlike previous efforts to abstain. So far so good and it’s actually a very empowering and satisfying feeling going out and about, busting out a few Mocktails or non-alcoholic beverages, enjoying a quality chin wag and boogie before a clear headed bed time and fresh following day. It’s inspired me to try and keep it up, have booze free nights out from time to time or at least mix it up a little bit more often.

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£200 ‘January off the grog’ savings

4 weeks in and after a few slip ups veering off the early first thing health hadouken, a tiny decline in the amount of exercise  I was doing combined with crossing her path at a party and having to swallow the realisation that I still desire all that I associate with her smile, I felt significantly less chipper and if truth be told a little teary.  It definitely dawned on me how important it can be to prioritise one’s personal health and well-being whilst enduring a challenging life transition or perceived tragedy of sorts. It can really make the difference between a self-destructive downward spiral, one of which I dived down backwards, heard first, over Christmas, or a self-compassionate sense of calm stability and control, which I experienced during the first few weeks of the year.

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Getting organised with new bedroom office

There’s no tragedy here. Instead the perfect opportunity to reconnect with my deepest values, regain clarity, focus and spend less time making sacrifices to fit around another persons circumstances and instead spend more time enjoying working towards fulfilling my own sense of purpose. No doubt, there are beautiful memories of exquisite shared experiences that shall be treasured alongside my mind marbles for as long as I have them. There is also a very real love that although I know will no doubt evolve and change shape will never go away. It’s beautiful. Definitely no tragedy here. I’m very fortunate and grateful.

Lisa McKenzie of Class War shall be attending the opening seminar of the Democratic Renewal in Civil Society series taking place in central London on March 7th that I’m organising.

After just about managing to hit the ground running I can now see the end of January’s runway in sight. Upon take off I want to be building upon the positive changes I’ve made and not falling back into bad habitual routines. I’ve got 2 priority projects that manifest early March. The first being with Notts Trent Uni which involves me organising a series of six seminars titled Democratic Renewal in Civil Society. The main aim being to bring together progressive groups and individuals that care about participatory democratic ways of organising with the aim of learning collectively and ultimately working together to build a more decentralised democratic society. The first seminar is March 9th and working class activist and academic Lisa McKenzie of Class War notoriety has just confirmed her attendance. Buzzing!

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To what extent are schools preparing global citizens that will be able to meet the challenge of the sustainable development goals?

The second is an international project titled ‘Education for Global Responsibility’ that I have been approached to be apart of by Intercollege. This is a great opportunity for me to influence the education system in a more progressive direction. It is my role to review and analyse the extent to which the current English schools curriculum prepares pupils to become active global citizens who have the skills, knowledges and competencies to bring about a more just and sustainable global society. I shall then outline the various proposals and suggestions I have regarding how to improve the methodologies, practices and overall approaches of schools to better meet these aims. This will culminate in a trip to Denmark early March where I shall present my findings to partner organisations with the aim of steering schools in a more critical, creative and participatory direction.

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The new Baby People premises on Foreman Street now available as a free meeting space for progressive not-for-profit groups. Get in touch.

Alongside these top 2 timely priorities and the continued creative mentoring I do through Baby People I shall continue my ongoing training as a hypnotherapist under the friendly wonder wing of highly esteemed pro Anthony Jacquin who has provided incredible guidance. I shall also be finishing off my debut short album ‘The Road Less Travelled’ which now features a recent song recorded with the local vocal legend Jamie Joseph and remarkable up and coming talents Evergreen, Lemz & Michael Jenkinson. A video is in the pipeline as is a launch event towards the end of March with all proceeds going towards alternative cancer charity Yes To Life. Keep ya peepers peeled.

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DE Solidarity after another fun day volunteering together organising donations for refugees.

On a voluntary level there is also a great deal of inspiring antics that I’ve been rolling my sleeves up ready for. The ongoing refugee crisis has led to the formation of solidarity groups across the globe taking direct action to distribute resources where needed. One such group is DE Solidarity based in Derby which has been working remarkably hard over recent months to support refugees in Calais, Dunkirk & Syria. Once I’ve attended the humanitarian awareness training this Sunday 31st I shall be ready to go to either Calais or Dunkirk over the next few months.

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Derby People’s Diary meeting at new Baby People premises.

Last year saw City-Zen present an array of weekly skill shares which were a great success. This year there shall be a series of nutrition workshops ran by Lucy Kay (Also of DE Solidarity) as well as an open invitation to anyone else wanting to run a skill share of their choosing. Towards the end of March it’s also the 10th anniversary of City-Zen which I sparked off with the collective back in t’day to raise money and awareness for various grass roots groups and important social justice issues whilst simultaneously providing platforms to promote diversity and free expression. As a part of the celebrations there shall be a fundraiser for DE Solidarity as well as a separate day time event which shall be raising money for the Derby People’s Diary.

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DART presence at Vigil Against Britain First

The Derby People’s diary now has around 50 progressive groups all based in Derby using it’s online calendar which is a really excellent revolutionary resource that I look forward to supporting more over coming months. The final project that I intend to try and commit my time and energy to this year is DART (Derby Against Racist Trolls) which was born in response to Britain Firsts intimidating festive visit in December. They wont be gathering on Derby streets unopposed again thanks to the various anti-fascist groups working in alliance with each other. To get involved in any of the above then please feel free to get in touch via collectivepraxis@gmail.com or 07539316596

My deepest desire for all of us is that we continue to develop our awareness of not only how inherently interconnected we are but more importantly how strong we can be when we cultivate the synergy between us. By utilising the collective strength and ability which manifests once we cooperate in solidarity with each others needs we find the potential required to create communities that no longer have to aquiesce to the oppressive and exploitative processes dictated by the logic of neo-liberal corporate global capitalism. How do we do that? That’s up to you. Start from where you stand and maybe consider the benefits of somehow pushing in directions that dare improvements for yourself, those closest and the wider community to occur. Ask questions. Listen out for the answers. Join the dots. Share what you discover. Don’t be alone. Do what you want, or what you can, or whatever. It’s up to you, it’s up to all of us.

Have a whatever type of February you want to have!

With thanks, love and solidarity

Jonezy / …pr@xis?..

From bad to worst, better to best – Part 4: If it wasn’t for you none of this would’ve happened

What a year! As 2016 comes and 2015 goes I like to reflect, take stock of what was and consider it’s relevance in the greater context of my life as a whole and the world around me. To acknowledge our achievements, those who made them possible as well as what we’re grateful for can help us feel more confident, happy and appreciative about these precious lives we lead. By facing up to our mistakes and taking lessons from them we can all make our own lives and the lives of those around us that little bit easier.

2015 was quite a unique and land mark year for me. I stumbled into it distressed about my fathers untimely death whilst also enduring the demise of my relationship with the love of my life and the consequential fall out which unravelled. Lifetime goals were unexpectedly fulfilled alongside some of the happiest moments I remember. New paths presented themselves in what some might perceive as karmic yet the cause of giving and it’s affect of reciprocation explains such phenomena in a far simpler and fulfilling way for me.

Homeless Centre

In January I called an open meeting to discuss how we could support the homeless which some excellent people responded to. Various actions and projects resulted including various workshops, the Padley Gorge walk as well as the Begging For Change fundraiser that myself, Chris Hindle & Gavin Wright organised in March which raised over £500 for the Padley.

February was a tough month emotionally as I moved out of the house I’d moved into with Jen & Sophia and tried to get my head round the loss of a father, lover, step-daughter of sorts and home. Felt very grateful to good friends especially Becky Johnson who stepped forward to help accommodate me for the month of March before I moved into a particularly nourishing abode at the start of April thanks to my dear friends Russell & Wendy Davison. This signified the beginning of the fresh start I deeply needed.

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I decided to utilise the motivation to make changes that the move had gave me and challenge myself to a holistically healthy April. I cut out caffeine, cigarettes, alcohol, sugar and adopted the optimal nutrition Body Ecology diet whilst cultivating a daily yoga, qigong and meditation routine as well as regular swims, cycles, walks and more. I felt fucking amazing! If only I could’ve kept it up for longer than a month. Another highlight of April was supporting the Padley Walk for Padley Gorge that Sophia Whittaker, Rohan Adamson & Georgia Maclennan got sponsored for, raising over £1000 for the Padley Group. I also called the first meeting for Challenge Cancer with Simon Hancox.

Moving into Russell & Wendy’s also provided me with the opportunity and motivation needed to finally try my hand at a dab of gardening. Their garden is exquisite with raised beds and access to all the resources I need. So with a little help of an excellent array of friends and a few basic books on the matter we managed to summon from the soil a pretty proud pile of organic home grown food. The harvest brought plentiful courgettes, runner beans, carrots and tomatoes yet daily I gave a moments silence stood by the kale, cabbage and broccoli cemetery. My attitude towards slugs & pigeons took a bit of a nose dive whilst my appreciation for rain naturally rose. It’s often iterated by those in the know that there are few things more fulfilling than this fundamental pastime. I concur.

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With austerity in full swing, a general election in May and a vast myriad of matters adding to that mire I decided to put the word out about resuscitating City-Zen in the form of weekly skill shares. The response was excellent with offers to host and deliver coming from a quality couple of handfuls of angles. Starting towards the end of April and running until late September we had skill shares in Public Speaking for Introverts, Permaculture, Event Organising, Optimal Nutrition, Self-Hypnosis, Overcoming Human Problems, Qigong, Community Organising, Foraging, Consensus decision-making, What’s wrong with Palm Oil & an open space meeting called ‘The Next 5 Years?’ which bought over 30 people together to pose questions and explore ideas relevant to the tragic election result.

The Tory’s are waging an ideological neo-liberal capitalist class war against all of our communities and the onus is on us, ALL of us to face up to this reality and do what we can to improve, strengthen, support and care for our people in whatever ways we can. The skill shares were a small part of that puzzle as was joining the anti-austerity demonstration in London on June 20th. That evening I joined hundreds of friends enjoying a sublime night celebrating solstice at 9 Ladies stone circle which was a less obvious yet equally as relevant part of the same puzzle, potentially. There’s no doubt in my mind that a more effective and militant movement against austerity, neo-liberalism and capitalism more generally needs to be built as we push in whatever ways we feel willing towards a more progressive and socially just post-capitalist world. The Derby Peoples Diary is an excellent new project I got involved with in 2015 to help piece together that puzzle. Check it out.

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In 2005 I became a youth worker and 10 years later I found myself experiencing my most successful yet challenging year in the job to date. The stress and pressure of some of the aforementioned trials definitely began to mount and manifest in ways that were affecting my work. Feeling at times distant and depressed, having so much on my plate that I was becoming more forgetful, anxious and less patient, fatigued and less compassionate, it’s toll was taken. Fortunately I’ve arrived at the end of the year feeling completely different to how I did during the first half of it. That cloud has lifted and I feel more focussed, motivated, passionate and capable than ever, which is a real relief.

Some key youth work highlights apart from everything I do at Baby People would include the Reppin’ Endz finale event mid-May which I organised and hosted with a fresh, subversive and high quality line up of spoken word artists, rappers and singers. A week later I was living a dream come true which unexpectedly turned into a nightmare. I was given an amazing opportunity to be the lead facilitator alongside my highly esteemed Baby People colleagues to run a training course in partnership with Intercollege called Step It Up with European participants in Moldova. The first few days were excellent on every level as talented Baby People staff delivered training on using music as a tool for inclusion. Then came the mid-week intercultural celebration evening which literally put me on my back with my trousers round my ankles. I had no idea how strong the various grog was until waking up late the next day with the last few hours of the evening blacked out. Serious apologies were owed and sincerely delivered before I facilitated my session on writing inspiring lyrics which went down really well what a relief. All was excellent in the end but I fucked up pretty hard and was left with a lot to think about. Jonezy conspires with booze to trip himself and others up again and not for the last time sadly.

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In the wake of that balls up I was overjoyed and relieved to discover that I was still welcome to work on the second leg of the project here in Derby ran from Cromford Mill which was called Taking The Lead. I ran what was fed back to be an inspiring session on Active-Global Citizenship. Then unexpectedly on December 31st I received an email inviting me to take part in another Intercollege project where I shall be helping to shape global citizenship curriculum which includes a trip to Denmark in March. So grateful for these opportunities.

The summer came and went, packed with the usual Geo-Fest festival fun as well as some gorgeous day trips and a holiday to Shell Island with Jen, Sophia and friends. This year we went to the first ever Festival 8 which was a really fun, D.I.Y, interactive, imaginative and creative festival with a quality ethos packed full of great people. Following that was Nozstock which stole the show this summer with a wicked mixture of vibes from DnB, Reggae & Electro Swing through to Dub Step, Hip Hop, Soul and much more. The Geo Fest giant Gloctopus got a shout out from De La Soul too which was pretty cool. Alchemy topped off the season in it’s usual boundary transcending style and love was most definitely in the air which was great timing as Jens birthday was the following week. It fell nicely in conjuction with Derby FESTE which was as spectacular and excellent as always. The Danbor Talka drumming and firework show a mind blowing highlight.

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In the lead up to October I had been working with Simon Hancox & Lisa Higginbottom to organise a week of events to raise awareness and funds to support those affected by Cancer. I also worked with Evil Unicorns Brent Waltham, Jay Rankin and Carl Woodland to produce a music video for the song I wrote called The Road Less Travelled which also touches upon important issues related to Cancer. The debut screening of the video was at the Challenge Cancer launch event on Saturday October the 10th and the response to it was overwhelming. Alongside the launch I also did a sponsored head shave and raised over £600 for Macmillan. Loads of excellent people came together for the launch, the following events and the firewalk finale helping us to raise significant sums for various cancer charities including Annabels Angels, Macmillan and Yes To Life. It was so well received that in 2016 we shall be looking for volunteers to help us organise a Challenge Cancer month of activities. Please get in touch if you’d like to help in anyway.

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The weekend before Challenge Cancer I had the privilege of attending a Hypnotherapy Training diploma course with my friend, the ever affable and highly esteemed Hypnotist, Mentalist, Magician and all round man of the mind Anthony Jacquin alongside his Guinness book of world record holding father Freddy Jacquin. As a result I’ve been deeply inspired to use hypnotherapy to help others make changes that would benefit their lives and am really enthused to continue my training throughout 2016. I shall be offering free sessions to willing participants until June before setting up my own practise. I shall then continue to provide free sessions which would prioritise those most deserving or in need with concessionary and standard rates for others depending on income. Please get in touch to find out more if you’re interested.

What had started off quite troubled turned out to be a really rather active, empowering and exciting year in the end. Despite the break up with Jen we spent the larger part of the year together as best friends and lovers, had many a wonderful time yet the end it was written was nigh. November blurred into December and we’d agreed to spend one last positive festive period together. A jaw dropping highlight of November was sharing a stage with Dan Smith of Listener fame. I also successfully applied for a job at Nottingham Trent University working on a project called Democratic Renewal In Civil Society which starts in the new year. Jen did an incredible job of organising both Sophia’s 10th birthday party at Water World followed by the 2015 Festive Fair? Alternative Market & Padley Fundraiser. Christmas crept upon us and on one late fateful night, the Saturday before Christmas following the Holy Smokes Christmas party everything got turned upside down as a result of another booze-fuelled fuck up on my part. I’d ruined Christmas for all of us and suffered a very lonely, unhealthy, guilty, hungry, ill and regretful consequence as a result. Thanks again booze, thanks again Jonezy, you pair of fucking idiots!

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Silver linings were found by both of us in the form of excellent friends and family who gathered round us both respectively to buffer the blow. We came back together for a final few loved up days leading up to and in the aftermath of new year before saying a final farewell yesterday, Sunday 3rd January. I actually started writing this on the 15th December feeling pleased with the narrative of the year and how things had actually met the blog titles premise. Maybe that was Karma, or the universe, or some shit, teaching me a cheeky lesson about something or other? Or maybe it’s cause and affect telling me to stop drinking so much when in a celebratory situation and to generally sort my shit out. Either way, the poignancy hasn’t been lost on me and I’m on it.

2016 is upon us, today is the first Monday of the first week and I’d confidently assume that many of us are trying to put our best foots forward and start as we mean to go on. I wish you all the very best. It’s important we don’t underestimate ourselves and our abilities to achieve great things and make a real difference. It’s also important we don’t overlook or fear facing up to our fuck ups. We’re only human so be kind to yourself and forgiving of others. Take responsibility. There’s only so much anyone is going to take of your bullshit if you keep repeating the same mistakes without making any real effort to rectify them. Finally, before I sign off from this self-indulgent page in my online diary, the most important thing I want to convey is the importance of appreciating those who make everything you do possible. I feel very happy with the bulk of what I did in 2015 but very little of it would’ve been possible without the support and involvement of others. There are too many of you to name, literally thousands, but without all of us pulling together none of us would be able to achieve anything.

Have a great year.

Jonezy aka …pr@xis?..

Challenge Cancer feedback findings

 Why & how were you involved in Challenge Cancer week?

I went to a couple of the events; the opening and the.mindfulness.

Did the Firewalk, to help out local charity, raise awareness, and honor my friend who has cancer. And came to see the hair shave

I came to the event at the spot and the open discussion. I came because i wanted to meet Rob and sue olifent, and I want to support what they and you are doing.

Invited to deliver a meditation workshop and felt inspired to take parts in activities throughout the week.

I helped organise and put on a juice stall where we gave samples of different recipes of fresh juice to people to try and advised people on the natural properties in terms of nutrients and what they can be helpful for regarding health and staving off disease. I decided I wanted to be part of something massively important having just lost my father to cancer, a man thought to be healthy and fit to me was a perfect example of how the current way of thinking regarding diet is ultimately flawed. I am interested in developing my own knowledge and encouraging others to believe in the things that make sense to them even if it means going against convention. If I can reach one person and they can have an influence on their own health or someone they love as dearly as I loved my Dad then I’m on board and ready to get involved!

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Juicing samples at the launch event

I was involved with Challenge Cancer week as I am very close with one of the organisers. My life has been affected indirectly through cancer and conventional treatment plans and I feel keen to promote an anti-cancerous lifestyle for this very reason. I helped with promotion for the events, ran an art stall at the launch event and cut off Jonezy’s mop! I ran a half marathon to raise money for Annabel’s Angels and took part in the firewalk at the finale event. I also went along to the meditation and mindfulness workshop as well as the treating cancer naturally evening.

To be involved with something positive find out information

Ran the qigong workshop on Wednesday 14th and went to the open space discussion on Thursday 15th

I was involved because I believed it to be a significant education movement that also helped to empower individuals and the community by bringing people together. I attended a couple of sessions and took part in the firewalk and tried to promote Challenge Cancer on social media when I could.

I was face painting at the event

Supported to Simon getting support from RDH and MacMillan

Sound engineer

I participated in the fire walk

Making Empowerment Dolls (arts and crafts)

I performed with Li Laurent, donated a portrait of Walter White and attended the Animotion event at Artsmith which was really good!

I’m involved with Annabel’s Angels, one of the beneficiaries of Challenge Cancer. I was involved in co-organising the week.

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Li Laurent performing alongside Floyd Parker at the launch event

What do you think worked well?

There were lots of different events throughout the week all positive and open to all. Funds were raised for local charities rather than the big cancer charities.

Great variety of events, very friendly and community oriented. Chill atmosphere despite obviously very serious and doomy subject. Free food let people try new ideas and they seemed eager to carry on with them in their lives. Generally an awesome and inspiring event.

I wasn’t at the spot for long so not sure. I liked the open discussion. Having each person speak about what they knew about was good.

From what I was involved in (came to launch event, workshop and finale) these seemed to have a steady flow of people.

I think the initial event and workshops and firewalk were all absolutely excellent. For me there needed to be more inclusion for children and perhaps a venue selling alcohol whilst trying to warn against its effects was maybe not ideal but not the end of the world either. I think there could have been more marketing not just social media but also posters around town and in cafes and shops all about, perhaps the initial venue in town? I think it’s about getting people into the events if we want to get people to think. The events themselves were absolutely excellent and I struggle to think of how they could be better.

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Anti-Cancerous buffet at the launch event

I think the launch event worked particularly well. The stalls, food and music was great and the guest speakers were very informative and inspiring. The viewing of the road less travelled music video was also amazing. I thought the different workshops were excellent, high quality and a great variety.

All the nutritional information was very helpful

Venues were good and appropriate. Food was excellent!

I think the whole thing worked well. I don’t feel comfortable analysing the brilliant efforts of everyone involved and honestly I have no criticisms.

anti cancer/ health food demonstrations and samples.

It all went well considering dome quite quickly the stories everyday on web site

A good collaboration of charities

All the events attended seem to have worked well

Informative, helpful, motivating, good combination of fun and information.

The balance of informative and entertainment. I didnt feel like I was bombarded with heavy going info, was quite entertained and interested as well.

The diversity of the activities taking place during the week has been really encouraging. It’s been a holistic week with some really interesting conversations taking place. These included alternative treatments, living and treating holistically, while also facilitating some fundraising opportunities for several charities. I particularly loved the grassroots feel to the week. It really was a pleasure to meet and be among some hugely talented and thoughtful individuals.

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An example of Shannon West’s excellent facepainting at the launch event

What do you think didn’t work so well?

Hard to commit to a whole week of activities, when there is lots of interesting things, could be spread out over a longer period perhaps, but then it might lose some impact.

Different and conflicting advice given from different charities, eg one saying to eat loads of butter while next saying vegan is better. Then mainstream charities ignore diet except general healthy eating. Maybe that’s good to give people a choice, but it’s also confusing. Science?

Maybe communication between workshop facilitators and rooming issues could have been done differently so could be informed sooner and maybe take pressure off the organizers?

See above, it includes it all I think!

The firewalk seemed a bit disorganised. Not a major problem though. Also, it would have been better of more people attended the launch event.

Maybe do speakers question and answers first then music?

Would have liked a broader range of participants at the qigong workshop. That may be a reflection of the timing.

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Lindsay Tretharthen’s Qigong workshop

There was nothing that I noticed. If I had to say anything it was that at one of the sessions there were screaming children which strained conversations but it’s something we deal with in life so maybe more tolerance on my part is required.

Maybe the location. It could be nice to draw in more attention from the general public. a more central location may help with this but ii understand potential difficulty in finding somewhere with budget constraints.

We could done with more time to organise help and support eg grants for some venues

Attendance numbers

Nothing I can think of.

Everything worked well, but i will think about how we can make this bigger and better each year.

Sadly, the animotion didnt have that many turn up. Which is a shame as it was really funny watch all those bizarre films and catching up with people I have seen in a while. One thing I did notice is, I knew a lot of people there (at both events I attended) maybe need to spread out with promoting events?

Marketing and media work could have been more effective. Decisions could have been made earlier regarding marketing materials. On reflection, a marketing strategy should have been devised, agreed and implemented. Corporate sponsorship of key events during the week could have been considered.

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Ben Halford victoriously toasting his sponsored 13 mile run which raised over £300 for Challenge Cancer.

What do you think are the most important issues/activities/ideas/events that Challenge Cancer should be engaging the public with next year?

Positive supportive, activities for local people dealing with cancer themselves or their loved ones. Keeping a healthy body and mind as a preventative measure against illness. Awareness of the big cancer charities – where the money goes/ what it’s used for.

I can’t think of anything extra to what was already done! How to live well to not get cancer, what to do if you or a loved one is diagnosed. More fun challenges and public awareness stunts to get charities ££ and publicity to help sufferers. Maybe some educational thing about how to know what is actually cancer causing, and what is just the Daily Mail being scary again.

Alternative therapies, maybe a cooking workshop to help people get on the right

track. Try and get some nutritionists there with experience of treating cancer. Getting the truth out about CRUK. Speakers who have cured their cancer.

Generate a network folk could link to prior to before event, maybe an online community? Invite specialists to discuss alternative treatments both nationally and internatinally? Continue to present alternatives to healing and offer tasters to helo manage lifestyle stresses.

Raising awareness of alternatives through events etc, need more time to think, tired at the moment!

More promotion of anti-cancerous ways of living and giving more examples of success stories of people who have treated their cancer through unconventional methods. More people who speak out on this matter will enable it to become a more normalised and accepted way of treating the disease. Also, maybe highlighting the link between candida and cancer, and how candidiasis can be viewed as an early warning sign to the development of cancer.

Prevention is key nutritional info maybe simple leaflets to take… Poss hook more individuals up who would like to support each other?

More of the same!

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A scene from The Road Less Travelled music video produced by Evil Unicorn to help raise money for Yes To Life

Maybe a cooking class as it will be easier to remember through practice for some people. I would also like the laws regarding medicinal cannabis to change so that this could be featured more prominently, but we’ll see 🙂

any discussion on recent research findings that are argued to affect chances of getting cancer. same sort of things covered this year. Nutritional advice. Living with cancer

We need mixture of both maybe more activities maybe a few more people involved in promoting

The importance of awareness for a holistic approach with a focus on nutrition

I think the nutritional side would be good to go into a bit better . A pop cafe maybe or just an outlet in an already established business

information related to food mental health and cancer. and other links to cancer.

Activities that encourage people to take their hands out of their pockets and join in. Workshops are great. Ive seen Theatre workshops prove themselves very effective at getting new ideas and points across to people.

Balancing the discussions of alternative/traditional treatments can be tricky but highly effective if handled in the right way. I’d like to see more discussion about a holistic approach, diet and lifestyle. I think a week-long programme is achievable.

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Jen Whittaker just before running a sponsored half marathon to raise money for Annabels Angels

 Would you be interested in being involved in next years Challenge Cancer and if so how?

Yes, not sure how, could be involved in planning or as a general volunteer.

Yeah I’ll do whatever really. Sponsored stuff or practical helping out type stuff. Not shaving my hair tho I only just grew it out from last time.

Yes, I’d like to help out.

Definitely, planning and workshop facilitation please.

Absolutely, many ways 🙂

Yes, in any way possible. Maybe running a workshop on making anti-cancerous food. Also up for doing another half marathon, taking part in workshops and generally being involved in what’s going on.

Yes deffo do a stall again music to make people smile hand out leaflets what ever you need 🙂

Yes! Happy to do another workshop.

-POP (5)

Yes, in the same ways as I was before, and maybe more depending on what is needed and how I can engage given my strengths and weaknesses.

Yes. Face painting

Yes of course

Yes, sound engineer

anyway really wherever I can help out

yes

Yes absolutely. I wouldnt mind promoting, maybe the Jam Club idea Im always happy to get involved 🙂

I’d love to be involved in the planning again.

Simon Hancox, Simon Jones & Robert Olifent

Simon Hancox, Simon Jones & Robert Olifent

The Road Less Travelled by …pr@xis?.. ft Li Laurent produced by DSJ Beats filmed by Evil Unicorn

All proceeds from downloads go to Yes To Life
Download for £1 @ collectivepraxis.bandcamp.com

A lone silhouette wept stood before that headstone/
A red rose fallen petal, this orphan left broke/
breath slowed, trauma etched deep as he let go/
respect shown by all of your guests at your ceremony/
Tony Jones – a noble, thoughtful, clever bloke/
each record chose reflects how special we saw your efforts/
no regrets – the photos and the letters that we’d never known/
a testament to the man that meant so much to the many that met him/
Don’t forget – how much he gave to the lives he saved/
in the wake of the wife that he had taken away/
“Why my life forsaken?”/
with pride and bravery was gracefully riding these waves/
Now there’s an empty chair, the tele’s off/
the kettle’s cold, we slowly cleared our childhood out the loft/
reminiscing precious missing pieces packed into each box/ –
wishing that you’d pull up, twist your key once in the lock/
Shut the door and shout out ‘Hello, anyone home?’/
Though now I cry in silence finding books of grandma’s poems/
you’d step into the kitchen, perch upon your wooden throne/
I’d come give you a hug, you would ask me how it’s been going/
You’d big up all my drawings and you’d come and see me rap/
and when arrested by the law as an anarchist taking action/
unconditional support “I just want to see you be happy son”/
“I got your back” “Dad, I just can’t believe this is happening”/
December snowfall calls your name and number out/
remember those walks home I’d play and pluck the flowers/
The heavens opened, lighting struck the way the thunder vows/
an atheist now on his knees praying that the sun comes out/
– Howling our woe the wind blows/
lowered into the ground surrounded by those that loved you most/
a toast to those present bereft by the death of Tony Jones/
An ode to those lessons he left with every road he chose/

Tear drops falling from my tear drops falling
Tear drops falling from my tear drops falling from my eyes
Aching, breaking, lifes at cost
You chose a path and you got lost
I wonder how he’d have unravelled
On the road less travelled

I’d become a stumbling angry drunk man mumbling without a mum or dad/
about how looking back, it’s fucking mad just how these months passed/
stuck in a pit with a bag full of questions they say we shouldn’t ask/
they took our torch, allowed a ladder but the rungs snapped/
So what is cancer? What is chemotherapy?/
What are advanced treatments and real remedies?/
What will feed it and what will stop it spreading please?/
Educate yourself about the nature of this killing spree/
an industry that profits hundreds of billions of dollars/
viciously they offer the toughest pills to be swallowed/
it’s TOXIC! They insist it’s what’s needed to live, It’s not/
but this knowledge exists, remission follows/
Nightly I was up late, making notes and turning pages/
concerned, afraid, debating anecdotes, researching data/
the murder rates of patients woke me up and stirred my rage/
learning ways to preserve his days, spoke to him and heard him say/
– “I’m nervous mate, I don’t know which way to turn.”, “Take
your time to make your mind up, stay wise, it’ll be worth the wait.”/
Highest grade advice was gave, the mind & diet first to change/
journeys and purchases made to swerve around his early grave/
but he chose a path that we were the most afraid of/
as Chemo attacked every single cell he was made of/
it battered his immune system, appetite, motivation/
his happiness, it was tragic, his rapid deterioration/
emaciated, no more taking our calls/
haunted by flash backs, him shaking on the floor/
face vacant, blood poured, a fallen angel on the ward/
gaunt – his last gasp – the rain roared/
your 3 boys by your bed wept their thank you’s,
– goodbye’s, respects to the best Dad whose
final breath left behind a fine legacy of examples/
reminding us how our light spreads with every candle
We’re so thankful

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Challenging cancer via the road less travelled?

Exactly a year ago today I was unaware that within the week I’d be holding my fathers hand watching him take his final breath. October 8th 2014  after a traumatic 10 months Tony Jones’ stoic existence came to an abrupt and untimely ending. The combined affects of conventional treatment and brain cancer plus the root causes that brought those affects into his life, took it from him.

Myself, Chris, Paul & Dad

Myself, Chris, Paul & Dad

A year on and Challenge Cancer week alongside the launch of my debut solo EP ‘The Road Less Travelled’ is my way of commemorating the most important man I’ll ever love whilst also raising awareness and funds to fight cancer and related socio-political problems.

It was back in March that I first met up with Annabels Angels founder Simon Hancox & ex-mayor Lisa Higginbottom to explore ideas together for what has evolved into a potent week long programme of events called Challenge Cancer week. The aim is to challenge cancer on a variety of levels such as challenging ourselves to make lifestyle changes, raise money via sponsorship or to challenge some of the mainstream myths and misconceptions surrounding cancer, it’s prevention and treatment.
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Alongside Challenge Cancer week I shall also be launching a 6 track EP called The Road Less travelled which is accompanied by 6 pieces of spoken word, written and performed by various local poets. All proceeds from downloads shall go towards Yes To Life which is an excellent integrative cancer care charity .

The EP shall be launched on Saturday October 17th which is the day of the the fire walk finale event of Challenge Cancer week. The week before however on Saturday 10th October I shall be launching a music video to the title track of the EP which I have been working closely with Evil Unicorn to make manifest. It shall be shown at the Challenge Cancer launch event @ The Spot and immediately afterwards I shall be having my head shaved to raise money for Macmillan who did an excellent job of reducing the potential suffering faced by my father as he lay dying in the Nightingale Unit at Derby Royal hospital.

CC launch poster

Other than organising Challenge Cancer, releasing an EP, music video and getting my head shaved to raise money and awareness I thought I would also make the most of the momentum and challenge myself to make some important lifestyle changes that if left unchecked could well contribute to some serious health problems down the line if not an unwelcomed diagnosis of my own. The most important of these changes is drastically cutting down the amount of alcohol that I drink, other important healthy habits that I’m in dire straits to adopt would be increase the amount of sleep I get and water I drink. I eat relatively well yet intend to cut out all sugar, wheat and cancerous processed foods. Alongside these crucially important changes, that are so easily overlooked by so many, I shall also be aspiring to either do yoga, qigong, swimming or cycling every day as well as self-hypnosis, meditation or written visualisations and reflections daily. I shall aspire to connect meaningfully with those around me whilst also contributing to my wider community and fulfilling my deeper sense of purpose as an interconnected part of a synergistic cosmic whole. Last but not least I shall try and remember to stay on top of my washing up and get round to tidying my room, although both of those things are highly unlikely.

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In addition to my own challenges I want to reach out and challenge others, like yourself, to consider taking on their own challenges. What sort of thing might you feel motivated to do in order to make a positive difference, no matter how large or small. Maybe you could become one of the #firewalkfifty and take part in the Challenge Cancer finale fire walk, or maybe you’d be up for attending one of the excellent events that are taking place throughout the week to experience or learn about something new that can help prevent and fight cancer. Maybe you might want to come to the launch event, enjoy some live entertainment, buy some art from local artists, try some anti-cancerous food and take away some information, or maybe you’d be willing to sponsor someone else who’s raising money? Whatever works for you personally let’s all join together and support each other in challenging a disease that will affect every single one of us at some point or another in our lives.

Peace & Prevention

…pr@xis?..

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From bad to worst, better to best – part 3: Trying to find a balance

Hello everyone!

Hope you’re all good and have enjoyed the first half of 2015. As the midpoint comes and goes I like to reflect upon the goals, hopes and aspirations I visualised at the beginning of the year as well as what actually happened whilst taking stock of the lessons, achievements and how I hope the latter half pans out. It’s been an intensely eventful year on a variety of levels. Here’s just some of the things that have cracked off followed by some of my central intentions for the rest of the year.

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Russell & Wendy Davison ready to embark upon more magical travels.

Health & Well-being

After a difficult break up which led me to having to leave my home in Chester Green I found myself living at my friends Russell and Wendy’s stunningly nourishing house on the other side of town. I thought it wise to seize the fresh start and embark upon the healthiest month I could. I decided to do the optimal nutrition probiotic Body Ecology Diet in addition to quitting caffeine, alcohol and smoking. I also took the opportunity to practise regular meditation, yoga, Qi Gong, Cycling and Swimming. I began to massively increase the amount of water I drank and cultivated more adequate sleep patterns. As a result I felt better than I have ever felt. I felt happy, energetic, confident and contented. I felt more compassionate, clarity of thought and relaxed. It was an incredible feeling that I really miss now that I’m back into late nights drinking before bed, snoozing til the last minute and rushing out the house without water or nourishment, skipping exercise and eating crap.

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Fully stocked up ready for a full month on the Body Ecology Diet

Family & Friends

Ironically, within 24 hours of posting the last instalment of this series of visualisations/ reflections it became clear that I would no longer be living in Chester Green with Jen and Sophia and would instead have to move on. It was a very sad and difficult time for all of us but ultimately in everyone’s best interests. I moved to my excellent friend Becky’s house in Stockbrook as an interim measure throughout March before landing on my feet at Leftfield which represented a landmark fresh start. Living with my awesome house mate Paul Clark is a real blessing as he’s easily one of the most easy going, positive and helpful people I know. Russell’s son Benjamin who I also get on with really well works here in the day time which adds some more quality company to the mix and 2 more people are set to move in at some point in the not-too-distant future. This is the 10th house I’ve inhabited since returning from Leeds to Derby 10 years ago. I really hope that I stay here for a healthy handful of years at least but we’ll see. What will be, will be. Expectation and attachment being the enemy of ease.

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A beautiful card from Sophia.

In other familial news I organised a nice family celebration for my brother Paul’s 40th in March where I got to see many dear family members who I rarely see. Myself, Paul and Chris eventually got round to spending one last night together at my Dads house where we listened to his records and discussed ideas for his epitaph, which was an important ritual we’d been looking forward to, whilst Sarah, my step mum, has been working hard trying to sell his house, which is something will bring all of us a level of closure once complete.

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My friends Pippa, Karl and Retro helping me out in the garden

I’ve spent more time being intentionally alone in the last 3 months than at any other time in my life. On one level I’m trying to circumvent certain cycles and on another I’m trying to cultivate my sense of independence. When I do socialise I’m enjoying doing so in a meaningful manner that is largely out the pub. Whether it be friends coming over to hang out or help in the garden, enjoy some fresh home made food, discuss a meaningful project we’re all pushing, partake in a City-Zen skill share, a GEO-FEST prep for festival time or a profound gathering of local legends come Solstice at Stanton Moor, I’m trying to make the meetings matter. x

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Enjoying some great food and company at the City-Zen Optimal Nutrition skill share

Youth Work

2015 marks my 10th year as a youth worker: an important, challenging and rewarding occupation. Despite having a few wobbles due to the distractions of some significantly difficult life events it’s been a stand out year that’s witnessed one of the most exciting and fulfilling highlights of my career.

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Connor and Brandon writing bars as part of the Baby People College Course

Working at Baby People utilising sophisticated creative writing therapy techniques I empower young people to articulate their subjective experience of existence in relation to their internal and external worlds. In other words I help the yoot dem spit bars about life and what matters to them. I work one to one, with a small handful of young people that are deemed hard to reach, may have various special educational needs or for a whole host of reasons aren’t in mainstream school full-time. I have also just finished working on a post-16 college course where I’d help to facilitate 5 – 10 young people aged 16 – 19 write bars, record, perform and most importantly negotiate the realities they face on a day to day level. It’s been a truly great year working with such talented, positive and excellent young people. It’s been so joyous watching everyone develop so well, achieve Arts Awards and Rock School qualifications, perform at the end of term events and even earn themselves paid performances at the Reppin’ Endz finale event.

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‘Step It Up’ participants enjoying an excellent Moldovan meal

All of the staff at Baby People are awesome, incredibly talented and passionate about their work. Another highlight has been opening doors for other talented youth workers to be able to work here, giving them encouragement to volunteer as well as guidance regarding how to progress in their roles. A related highlight of the last year and career as a whole was getting to deliver training in Moldova as a part of an international exchange program called ‘Step It Up‘. Alongside fellow Baby People tutors we trained youth workers from all over Europe about how to use music as a method of inclusion. We taught singing, beat making, how to write inspiring lyrics, project design and more over the course of 10 days. Apart from drinking too much Armenian rowdy juice on Inter Cultural evening and embarrassing myself trousers-round-my-ankles style the project was a raging success. The feedback from participants was deeply inspiring and the second part shall be happening in Derby later in July.

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Daniel entertaining the participants with his Microwave joke

As mentioned earlier there was a finale event for the Culture Train heritage project ‘Reppin’ Endz’. I was given a budget to do with what I wanted and so approached some young and not-so-young up and coming lyricists and commissioned them to write original pieces for the event which was really exciting. I also approached various performers to fill the bill and everyone did themselves and us seriously proud. As a result of the projects overall success ‘Reppin’ Endz 2: Hip Hop History’ is in the pipeline and promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Theorious Russell Pollard

Theorious performing at Reppin Endz finale event

Creativity

The most important creative project of 2015 has been writing a song called the Road Less Travelled, produced by Dominic Jarrett, which will be accompanied by a music video which are both dedicated to my father, Tony Jones, who died last October as a result of the combined affects of cancer and conventional treatment. The song features the impressive vocal talents of Li Laurent and the video shall be produced by the excellent gents over at Evil Unicorn. As the aim is to raise awareness about Cancer as well as funds for local Cancer support charity Annabels Angels everyone involved has kindly offered their time and  talent for free. Massive respect. The song is now virtually complete and the video is currently being script written to be filmed in August and launched as a part of ‘The Cancer Challenge’ compilation CD which shall include other collaborations I’ve been working on with various local artists as well as another track dedicated to my Dad written by myself and my brother Chris Jones, kindly recorded by Jurrell Wood at Baby People studios and mixed and mastered by my older brother Paul.

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My brother Chris Jones recording his verses for a song we’ve written dedicated to our Dad, Tony Jones, who died last year.

Other collaborations that I’ve been working on include a politically passionate Drum & Bass track with Infinity Consciousness, an epic reflective and uplifting collaboration with Hallouminati as well as an inspiring and empowering song with young up and coming duo Theorious alongside excellent producer Phase 2. Having also collaborated alongside my dear friends Alex Blood and JD on Evil Eyes, which is from the impressively passionate Derby MC JD’s landmark debut album The Transformation, has been a creative highlight. Alongside writing and recording I have also been pushing out the odd blog post on www.collectivepraxis.org which I aspire to improve at over time.

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The Transformation by JD

Community

As horror at the latest budget echoes around the ether I just returned from facilitating a 2 hour workshop in Anarchism with politics students at John Port School, something I’ve done annually for the last 5 years yet never has it felt so relevant as it did today. Since last writing in February an unrepresentative general election has condemned us to another 5 years of cruel Tory rule. In response more people seem ready to become more active than ever before, which was evident at the June 20th protest I attended via 4 full coaches from Derby. This is a welcome silver lining uplifting a potentially devastating reality for the most vulnerable in our communities such as the poorest, the disabled and the homeless. At the start of the year I organised with others some meetings to explore how we could support the homeless generally and more specifically the Padley Group which at the time was being threatened by coming cuts. Myself and a variety of other promoters, including Gavin Wright of Lunar C and Chris Hindle of SUB:Lemonal in addition to a handful of others involved with Button Pusher, Holy Smokes, Baby People & The Vines managed to organise an incredibly successful fundraising event called Begging For Change, in March. This was followed shortly by a wonderful sponsored walk, encouraged by Jen Whittaker, organised by Sophia Whittaker (9) with her friends Georgia Maclennan (9) and Rowan Adamson (9) who raised over £1000 for the Padley Group by hiking Padley Gorge.

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Students at John Port taking part in an Anarchism workshop

This year will also be the 10th anniversary of City-Zen, a collective I was involved initiating a decade ago which organised monthly events to raise money and awareness for various campaign groups, activist causes, charities and the like. It stopped a few years back and considering the current political climate it’s renaissance seemed ripe. An easy way of reviving and reintroducing the project that I thought empowering and relevant to the community would be inviting a series of skill shares. I did this in April and the response was fantastic with the first skill share manifesting before May in Public Speaking for Introverts which was followed weekly by Permaculture, Optimal Nutrition, Event Organising, Hypnosis, Overcoming Human Problems, Qigong and a really important open space discussion I facilitated called The Next 5 Years which was also a fundraiser for the Derby People’s Assembly. The Next 5 Years aimed to create a space where everyone could bring questions, issues, ideas and projects they wanted to be discussed about the next 5 years of Tory rule to the table. All of the events have been excellent and there are many more to come before I promote an open meeting to turn City-Zen back into an open consensus based decision making collective which shall then determine it’s future.

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June 20th anti-austerity protest in London

Myself, Annabels Angels founder, Simon Hancox and ex-Derby Mayor Lisa Higginbottom have been meeting up once a month since March to discuss ideas for and organise what has evolved into The Cancer Challenge, which shall be a week of events taking place between October 10th and 17th. It’s name refers to the reality of people living with the challenge of cancer, us taking on the challenge of taking action against cancer as well as us challenging the many myths surrounding cancer, conventional treatment and alternatives. There shall be a launch event where I shall be having my head shaved for the Macmillan Unit as well as a debut screening for the Road Less Travelled video which shall be launched alongside The Cancer Challenge compilation CD which shall both be raising money for Annabels Angels. The week shall culminate in a massive sponsored fire walk in the city Market Square. We’re going to be inviting as many of you all to take part as possible. The potential we all have to make a significant difference is huge.

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I’ll be shaving this lot off to raise money for Macmillan in October

One of the most significant projects that I’ve engaged with over the last for months relevant to my own personal well being as well as my wider communities has been growing my own food, inviting people round to help me in theory and practise as well as proactively giving away some of the food I’ve been growing. There are few acts more anti-capitalist and empowering than circumventing the destructive profit-making super market corporations and becoming more socially self-sufficient by producing our own means of subsistence. I believe that to grow what we can in addition to supporting organic wholefood cooperatives such as Derby’s most important shop, Soundbites, alongside local food projects such as Derby People’s Allotment whilst getting any other bits we might need supporting independent stores and market traders is a great way forward.

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Tomatoes, runner beans, mizuna and more

Finally I have recently been going along to meetings to support a project that will make a huge difference to Derby and really help create strength and solidarity amongst the different groups and individuals that live there. The Derby People’s Diary will be an online calendar populated by the public with events, actions and any other relevant dates as well as various content contributed by you, me, us, the people of Derby. There will be a launch event and fundraiser happening in September and you can follow the project on facebook. A massive shout out to everyone involved in all of the above.

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Supporters of the Padley Gorge walk for the Padley Group

Better to best?

Reflecting upon my achievements of the year so far is encouraging and inspiring and helps to feed my energy and enthusiasm to follow through on my aspirations for the rest of the year. No matter who we are, no matter what we do, there are always positives that we can reflect upon, aspects of our existence we can feel grateful for, activities that we can feel a sense of achievement about, lessons we can learn, using reflection of the past to empower our present and enrichen our future. I reflect here for myself but share with the aim of inspiring you to consider the relevance of doing the same yourself.

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From the Next 5 Years City-Zen open space discussion

I have planned for the remainder of my year to be as positive as possible and as always we’ll just have to see how the crumble cooks. July sparks off festival opportunities performing with the GEO FEST collective at Festival 8 and Nozstock, followed immediately by the second part of the Baby People ‘Step It Up’ exchange in Cromford. August arrives with a performance alongside Theorious at Zest Fest, music video filming for ‘Road Less Travelled’, facilitating workshops with Roma young people in preparation for Derby Feste, and an epic lyric writing mission for various projects. I’m attending the International Permaculture Conference in London at the beginning of September, starting a new year at Baby People, enjoying Alchemy festival with GEO FEST and hopefully launching Derby Dreamz 2 at Derby Feste. Early October shall mark the 1st anniversary of my fathers death and thus the Cancer Challenge week of events, within which I’ll be having a sponsored head shave, launching the ‘Road Less Travelled’ music video and Cancer Challenge compilation CD, promoting a variety of events and engaging as many people as possible in an epic fundraising fire walk for Annabels Angels. At the end of October is the London Anarchist Bookfair and towards the end of November we’ll be organising the 3rd annual Festive Fair? Padley fundraiser and alternative market before attempting to duck the consumerist demands of December instead inviting those interested to an open meeting so that we can revive a brand spanking City-Zen Collective just in time for 2016.

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City-Zen consensus-based decision-making collective COMING SOON!

Throughout the next 6 months there will also be more subversive City-Zen events, attempts to improve my health and curb my hedonism, create a happy balance between solitude and socialising whilst generally aspiring to keep all of the plates spinning in a way that means I can move at a relatively easy pace. I might even end up on holiday at some point, imagine that! I want to enjoy my life as much as possible and I want to contribute to cultivating a freer world where everyone has the opportunities they need to fully enjoy theirs. To do so I shall continue to try and live by my deepest values, increasing the time I spend doing the things I love and find most relevant whilst reducing the time I spend being a horrendous hypocrite, self-destructive dick head or overall advert for irony. I’m fully buzzing and feel blessed to be having some hypnotherapy sessions thanks to my kind friend Anthony Jacquin. Like most, I aspire. I often fall short but I continue to aspire and as a result I evolve, as no doubt we all do. Enjoy the rest of 2015 my friends, I hope you can find strength, peace, happiness and meaning somewhere amongst it’s madness. Finally, thank you all for everything. Without the contributions of countless others none of our achievements or aspirations would be possible.  Word up.

…pr@xis?..