The malevolent authoritarianism in our world is very often hard to define literally; it lies under the surface and inside of our lives. However sometimes an event takes place that illuminates our predicament like a bolt of lightning. Jam Imani Rad is a retired teacher and today is a keen gardener. He lives in a block of flats in
owned by a housing association called Gateway. Because it's a block of flats
obviously the residents have no gardens; some flats have a small balcony and
nothing else. Like a lot of social housing the block could be seen by many as a
depressing and unsightly place surrounded by a bare grass and concrete
courtyard, so Jam decided to turn the courtyard into a garden. He grew plants
and erected statues. He built gazeboes, trellises and pathways until the front
of the block of flats looked like an enchanted forest. He also covered the walls
with artwork. He spent five thousand pounds and it took him ten years. Jam's
neighbours love their unique community garden. It brightens up their lives. However,
the housing association denied him permission. They said that the garden
breached health and safety regulations and that the statues might "cause
offence" to residents and passers-by, even though nobody complained about
them. Jam was ordered to destroy the garden and return the block's grounds to
their original state. He refused. It wasn't that he didn't want to, he
couldn't. He would have endured removing the statues, but as a passionate
gardener, he couldn't kill the plants. He had grown them and nurtured them from
seeds. Jam's story spread around the world and people everywhere wrote to the
media to pledge their support for Jam's garden; a Change.org petition was
started. After a long court battle the council issued an order and workmen have
moved in to destroy the garden. Part of the court order was that protesting was
banned. Jam has even been threatened with prison. Jam's plight has been covered
by my friend and fellow radio host Lisa Philips on Cry Freedom Radio, see: https://www.mixcloud.com/lisashunkahawanagi/the-cry-freedom-show-live-wed-20th-july-2016-with-jam-imani-rad-emlyn-mousley-mark-cocking/listeners/.
There is a twisted logic to what has happened here. Jam's garden was harmless, beautiful and it inspired and enriched people's lives... therefore it had to go. As Andy Thomas has said, everything is designed to break our spirit. As a result anything that lifts our spirit is a danger to the authorities. The government have no problem putting up frightening and disturbing artwork that messes with our heads, for example see: http://spreadingtheword-now.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/not-for-arts-sake.html. If only the workmen who the council ordered to demolish Jam's garden had refused! I sometimes wonder if rather than completely stopping the New World Order, it should be allowed in one small location, maybe a town in the middle of a desert or a remote and uninhabited island. Then the people running the council and courts in
Preston and the Gateway housing association
can go and live there. It's what they deserve and clearly they would enjoy it.
Jam has a fansite, see: http://www.gatewaytenants.co.uk/.
I recommend taking as many photographs of the garden as you can. I know it's
not the same as the real thing, but I have endeavoured to do this myself in
similar situations; see background links below.
See here for background: http://hpanwo-voice.blogspot.co.uk/2010/06/rip-subway.html.