Tuesday 26 April 2016

*** NEW WEBSITE UNDER CONSTRUCTION - voicesthatshake.org ****

Our new website is under construction over at voicesthatshake.org

Bear with us while we upgrade and give this the fanomenal face-lift Shakers work deserves x


Saturday 5 December 2015

Shake! Showcase no.6 - #ResistanceIsFertile

*** 26th January 2016 ***

Our 6th Shake! showcase is gonna be a biggie!

Teaming up with the afro-funky family vibes of Numbi we'll be presenting poetic, filmic & musical responses to injustice (themed around #StatesOfViolence + #FoodFight) from the participants on our 2015 Shake! courses.



Full line-up to be posted here asap.

TICKETS: £5* via Rich Mix box office: 020 7613 7498

*concessions email: farzana at platformlondon.org

For more info:
email platformshake at gmail.com 020 7403 3738

Tuesday 25 August 2015

Shake! #Food Fight- Reflections

By Jethro Jenkins

Shake! is a 5-day intensive course for 16-25 yr olds, consisting of creative workshops designed to equip them with the tools they need to fight oppression and build campaigns in their communities. Through various art forms - poetry, filmmaking, music and zine-making – and in an environment in which oppressive ideas are deconstructed and established methods of thinking are challenged, our group of young activists empower themselves to do great things. The art produced in the short period is always of immeasurable strength and quality, that could only be a product of a sharing space in which the content is highly educational and at times, highly personal. The topic we tackled this time was food - something unavoidably close to home. It was certainly going to be eye opening.

It is near impossible to get by without engaging in the food industry at some level, especially for young people living in inner-city areas like London. The illusion of ‘choice’ is deceptive – our diet is dictated to us by huge business corporations who mass-produce cheap food, which is ‘super-marketed’ to poor and impoverished communities. Meanwhile terms like ‘guilt-free’, ‘organic’ and ‘fair trade’ are thrown around, targeting the middle and upper classes, who can afford to pay for the ‘ethical’ labelling game. When we digest food labels, we are psychologically influenced into feeling better about ourselves. We feel we have eaten healthily, organically or ‘ethically’.

Ironically, much of the food consumed by middle class whites originates from the culture of marginalised communities, re-branded to seem ‘safe’ to often xenophobic consumers. The type of food available in certain areas is linked to gentrification; in my local area in Hackney for example, local businesses are being shut down to be replaced by ‘trendy’ hipster cafes and bars often profiting from culturally appropriative menus with little respect for the local people, who cannot afford to eat there. This is linked to oppressive capitalist systems of exploitation both at home and abroad. Exploitation fuels the food industry. The UK and US manage to appropriate ‘exotic’ ingredients through exploitation of workers abroad, who cannot even afford the food they harvest. It is a neoliberal slave trade with roots in colonialism, that manipulates small farmers, not to mention engages in cruel battery farming and the slaughter of animals en masse.

These critical discussions were food for thought and inspired the incredible writing group led by experienced poets Zena Edwards and Sai Murray. The big issues surrounding food were tackled head-on. There were no holds barred once the poets stepped into the arena! What was particularly important was that Shake! was primarily a healing space. Each day was structured in a way that involved listening to our bodies. Self-care was paramount. The effects were wonderful - as the week progressed we became increasingly barefoot as we stripped away the negativity from the outside world and began to relax into our natural selves. After our time spent in the green spaces, we would take every opportunity to be outside, making music, running on the grass, doing stretching exercises, all of which helped greatly in making us feel present and grounded. Thanks to Saara we also got to try out some yoga - while some of us may have fallen near flat on our faces in the process, the end result was a rare sensation of oneness. The mantra for this energy was repeated throughout the week - “I am here. I am healthy. I am healing. I am loved”

The week was divided by a trip to May Project Gardens, an alternative educational green space using hip hop to empower young people to live sustainably. Spending time in the gardens was an invaluable part of the creative process. The experience of cooking together, feeling the earth beneath our fingers, enriched our sense of community and our appreciation for sharing the experience. Few have the privilege of access to green spaces where they can grow their own food. Healthy, genuinely ‘fair trade’ food is expensive, unless we reclaim the means production by growing it ourselves. So massive shout-out to Ian at May Project Gardens for letting us use the space and for showing us the fantastic work you do.

The zine-making workshop run by Paula Serafini provided a great opportunity to take time out from the other workshops. This was a very visual, hands-on approach to arts activism, to me it was a showcase of raw and unfiltered responses to the issues being tackled - and the results were a zine rich with strong imagery and powerful political messages. Copies will be available soon!

This was my second Shake! and I had the honour of returning as a facilitator. My experiences from the previous course had made it clear to me how important alternative modes of education were. I was shown how much could be learnt simply by listening, and many of the issues we approached often required a great deal of ‘unlearning’, especially on topics relating to race and gender and the socio-political privileges attached to them. I felt able to grow and change as a person simply by being present. The space was open for all to contribute whilst also critical of dominant and controlling ideologies - “Tough on ideas, soft on people”. Like we observed with the plants at May Project Gardens, ‘the edges are where we grow from’ - the most powerful poetry and radical filmmaking was developed in an environment in which our ideas were challenged and we were encouraged to ‘go deeper’.

Too often we consume without being nourished, but during this very special few days I spent with such an incredibly powerful group of young artists and activists, I found my stomach filled with truly honest, organic ‘soul food’. It was an experience I will not forget and will stay with me moving forwards. In the space of only 5 days, the group managed to produce a kick-ass zine, multiple short films and some incredible poetry! But the food fight is not over – Shake! encouraged all of us to get involved in local activism and engage with issues surrounding food, which have such a major impact our communities. We will continue to campaign, create and share, with the strength and passion that we give to each other. Watch this space!

Thursday 9 July 2015

#Shake2015: #FoodFight - Applications open

Our next shake! up >> 3rd-7th August 2015<< at Spotlight, Tower Hamlets.

Applications now open for our FREE! 5 day course on Art/ Race/ Media/ Power for 16-25's.
See below for more info & how to apply


Angry about the injustice you see around you?
Come shake tings up with performance poets, film-makers, musicians & activists on a free 5 day course to creatively express frustrations & concerns about the world you live in.
Art can be a powerful and transformative force for justice and change. Each day Shake! creative workshops will provide space to imagine what justice looks like, experiment with new ideas, learn new tools and fire up your imagination.


#FOODFIGHT will be exploring the idea that Reistance is Fertile...

On the menu:

· Food and the History of Power- colonialism, consumerism,·gentrification, cultural appropriation
· Food & violence –body and trauma, GM giants & corporations and state violence
· Food & Oppression- racalized and gendered oppression through food systems
· Food and Healing Justice- radical health & self care, building resistance and resilience.

Read more: http://voicesthatshake.blogspot.co.uk/2015/07/thoughts-on-food-fight-shake-summer.html


Over the five days, the course will include:

>> interactive workshops, stimulating dialogue & skill-shares to creatively campaign for change with practising artists/activists/educators:

>> MICHELLE PATRICK (Earth Oracle)
(+ more to be announced!)

>> practical hands-on techniques in spoken word, online media, film/video and music technology to develop your ideas around injustice and power.

>> access to a/v equipment, workshop spaces, rehearsal room, and FOOOOOD! at the landmark multi-million pound creative youth space Spotlight in Tower Hamlets + day trip to the innovative hip hop flavoured community focused May Project Gardens.

>> opportunity to showcase your work and continued involvement in the Shake! network.

Shake! welcomes and looks forward to applicants from all backgrounds. In our efforts to centre marginalised communities and create safe spaces, we will prioritise applications from people of colour, LGBTQI folk and residents of Tower Hamlets. Please state in your application if you want us to consider your application with this in mind.

** LIMITED PLACES AVAILABLE (for 16-25 year olds) **

Places will be allocated on a first come first served basis.

To receive a short application & for more info, email: farzana@platformlondon.org

Shake! is initiated and coordinated by Platform in association with:
Conversations Verse in Dialog // Liquorice Fish // Nu Wave Pictures // Stephen Lawrence Charitable Trust // Spotlight //

Platform is a company limited by guarantee no. 2658515 and a registered charity no 1044485.

Thursday 2 July 2015

Thoughts on Food Fight - Shake Summer Intensive 2015

When the team was asked (I volunteered) to write a blog about the war being waged on our food systems for the next Shake Intensive course ‘#FoodFight', I started to consider my own relationship with food, what I have personally seen with regard to changing attitudes and patterns of behaviour around food, and found that reams of questions poured out of my finger tips as I typed.
2013 and my finances were particularly low post-London 2012 Olympics. If you had not been recruited with some kind of an Olympic themed large scale poetry project or spoken word education initiative, 4 months of your existence in that year was like being left out in the cold with your face pressed against a window while the party raved inside because you weren’t on the guest list. So, in November, broker than I had been for a very long while (2003 and just starting out as a poet), this freelance artist had to be scrupulous with her food shopping.

Purchasing food in the local superstore took on a more ominous tone. My vigilance peaked and my brow knotted as I price-filtered my way along the aisles. Over time, as I accustomed myself to being more thrifty, I found that only own-brand tinned and white carb foods – white bread, potatoes, pasta – and low cost foods with high and salt and sugar content were available to me. The quality of own-brand food stuffs fluctuated dramatically from packet to packet and tin to tin. Fruit was a luxury. Especially oranges.

Eyes glazing over at the cash till, I remembered delicious foods cooked for me on open fires by street children in the clamouring, hot, dusty city of Mumbi and on Forodhani beach on the island of Zanzibar; honeyed milky bread served to me by the impoverished Khoisan Aboriginal tribes people in the Khalahari desert corridors (reservations). And how I heard their own empty stomachs roar at my privilege.

These memories informed me that going further back into my roots was the way forward for a wholesome and healthier a diet - root vegetable curries, sweet potato, cassava, black eye peas and corn stew; back to my student roots to the humble jacketed spud, pasta and pesto, brown rice and lentils. I’m not a meat fan and fish was a treat, so pulses, beans and ground maizes became staple to my diet.

After a good 6 years of convenience food living, grabbing what was pre-packed and pre-cut after working for no-fuss rapid, efficient “cooking”, I was forced to go back to the street markets in Brixton and Dalston and memories of shopping days with my Mother, having to carry heavy bags of food shopping for the week and big Sunday dinner cook ups that took all day. Those days brought us together as family and they were now long gone. I became more strategic in my food planning. I found I only ate what I needed and packed lunches (sometimes breakfasts for those early meetings) had my stomach straight for the day until dinner. I began to find a flow.

Emotional eating

As I write about of food monitoring and planning, I’m reflecting on a couple of my teen years. I remember being an angsty young woman of colour whose identity was heavily influenced by fashion trends. When I looked in the mirror I rejected most of myself, especially those diasporic curves and took such a hard-lined approach to how much I ate, to the degree of taking diet pills that were simply capsules of fibre and gel extract that expanded in your stomach to make you feel full. But what does it mean to “feel full?” How I saw myself had nothing to do with my appetite so how and why did my emotions begin attaching themselves to food? Food as a device for punishment or as a treat is not uncommon across the generations as body consciousness becomes obsessive in the century of selfies.

Weighing in at…
Obesity has been labeled an “epidemic” in the West.  However, obesity in the UK and US is being closely connected to discourses about class. Low cost but poor diets loaded with sugars and salt are causing heart disease. NHS spokes people stress the need for more education about healthy eating and exercise as it strains under the weight of illness and ailments due to the rise obesity, especially in children.
In some cultures a wide girth is considered a sign of wealth. African diasporic communities find high levels of diabetes and high cholesterol levels due to eating habits reminiscent of “what was left” from "his master's table"  as chattel enslaved Africans, relabeled as “soul food”. So there are cultural aspects to consider when food is a vehicle for communicating and expressing culture and lived historical experience.  However, a lack of awareness of food’s nutritional value as nourishment and not something you “do” as a consumer activity or a form of cultural expression is putting lives at risk. How informed are we about the addictiveness of the food on supermarket shelves?

What types of rocks and hard places are citizens of a nation placed in when we want to actually change our attitudes toward food? Food advertising campaigns seem scattergun when in fact they are strategically focused to have maximum psychological impact to very targeted viewers. Product placement is  a craft. At varying times of the day and year children are targeted,  this insecurities of women are played up on and an increasing numbers of men are now being documented with having Body Dysmorphic Disorders. What responsibility do food manufacturers have in their product placement and the illusions they sell in content of their advertising?

Ingredients of slavery

We are now forced to think vigilantly about the content of our food as corporates like Monsato, Nestle and Coca Cola step up the disseminate of distorted information about how they manifest corporate responsibility. But the morality of their take-over strategies project and evidence their expansion as brutal disenfranchisement threatening the livelihoods and lives of hardworking people and their families.

Deforestation for palm oil as a cooking ingredient for prepacked goods and snacks, for cattle grazing, and breeding factories, these anomalies raise numerous issues around animal rights and  Earth rights at the same time as ecosystems are destroyed when a trees are mass felled. But local people are fighting against this new economic enslavement via mass food production processes which have mortal impact. Climate issues and food intersect and many campaigns bring powerful arguments against corporate control over government policy.
In various parts of the historically ex-colonised world, there is neo-economic slavery centered around access and supply of food. The issue of food aid destined for conflict zones rattles with dissonance. We’ve seen he images of bags of grain are handed out to traumatized people in manufactured wars over their land and mineral resource. Yet we know that billions donated to charity haemorrhages away from those who need it.

Aid travels with a bomb, Watch out! Aid travels with a bomb!" - Jean Binta Breeze

The Starving West
The UK’s version of food poverty manifest itself in the figures put forward by organisations like the Trussell Trust. The number of people using food banks has risen exponentially since 2009 and there are varying reports of religious community centres over stretched feeding low income hungry families as part of their faith practice. And austerity is set to hit even harder over the next 5 years.

The American public, starved of information, continue to fight for transparency regards naming the ingredients on the packaging of their food. The implication of a life time consuming carcinogens from petsicides  and cancerous  potentional of genetically modified foods is now unavoidably disconcerting.
GMO products have entered the planet’s ecosystem and we have no idea of knowing how food will manifest itself in the next few decades. How well will our bodies adapt, after all we are what we eat? While the rest of the world sees the obscene (GM) abundance and waste of food in the US, millions still struggle to get food daily, living on less than a dollar a day. But at what cost?

Final thoughts...So as I sift through the aisle I am squinting at the back of bottles of cheap pasta sauce checking the suger content and I'm trying to ignore glow-in-the-dark tomatoes in the vegetable section but need them for my own homemade tomato pasta sauce. With no sugar. I look for the yellow stickers to see if I can save a few extra pence here and there and I wonder - How does it come about that supermarket bosses consider sell by dates on the packaging of food as waste markers and that this now deemed "waste" food is a health and safety risk for the homeless and active Freegans foraging superstore waste bins? And when a tomato can sit in a fridge for three months and not deteriorate in any way, what do sell by dates mean anyway?

"We live in an economic system where sellers only value land and commodities relative to their capacity to generate profit. Consumers are constantly being bombarded with advertising telling them to discard and replace the goods they already have because this increases sales. This practice of affluent societies produces an amount of waste so enormous that many people can be fed and supported simply on its trash."

The most chilling (and empowering) aspect of my thoughts around food is being aware of how our civil liberties and human rights are consistently at odds with the principles of profit and gross expansion. Fatal illnesses, mental unwellness - for example, farmer suicides from lost crops and 'disappeared' eco-activists - are considered acceptable collateral damage to corporates leveraging the interests of shareholders and CEO bonuses. Where does the moral compass needle land when food and water - the building blocks to a healthy body and mind, a healthy family and community – become pawns in economic profit battleground?

Shake’s Food Fight intensive summer course 2015
This time Shake! looks into the reclamation of the right to a clean food chain and interrogates (in)equality in universal food distribution. We'll be asking what are the next radical steps people are taking to decentralise and decolonize the monopoly corporates have over our bodies through food - for example locals in cities and rural areas all over the world are reclaiming economic agency by developing plots of land into community gardens and promoting local green economy initiatives. May Project Gardens is one such initiative and Ian 'KMT' Solomon from May Projects will be joining the Shake team for two days workshopping about how it works.

Ultimately, damage to the earth because of food abuse places the rights of the planet at the center of the discussion too, as the earth IS our food, and for out survival as a species urgently needs to be respected and healthily sustained.

· Specials of the day week menu

· Food and the History of Power- colonialism, consumerism,
· gentrification, cultural appropriation
· Food & violence –body and trauma, GM giants & corporations and state violence
· Food & Oppression- racalized and gendered oppression through systems
· Food and Healing Justice- radical health & self care, building resistance and
· resilience.


Shake! welcomes and looks forward to applicants from all backgrounds. In our efforts to centre marginalised communities and create safe spaces, we will prioritise applications from people of colour, LGBTQI folk and residents of Tower Hamlets. Please state in your application if you want us to consider your application with this in mind.

Posted by Zena Edwards

Monday 29 June 2015

Art, Climate and Displacement: 3 Spoken Word Films by Selina Nwulu and Onysha D Collins

Writer and poet Selina Nwulu and filmmaker Onysha D Collins (both former Shake! participants now involved with Shake! as facilitators and mentors), have teamed up for a series of spoken word films produced by Platform. 

The three films ‘Before’, ‘Our Parents’ Children’, and ‘Home is a Hostile Lover’ are part of a commission from metaceptive for their ‘Footprint Modulation’ season on art, climate and displacement. They address, among other things, the themes of migration, displacement, identity, and the environmental damage in Nigeria caused by the oil industry.

The films were first screened at Silence Would Be Treason: Between Nigeria and here + Durham De-Oiled’, a joint event by Platform and Transition Durham, which took place in Durham earlier this week.

All three pieces written and performed by Selina, and filmed and edited by Onysha.


'Our  Parents' Children'

'Home is a Hostile Lover'

Tuesday 2 June 2015

Home Cooking: Trauma Genes by Sammy Brough

Congratulations to Sammy for her commission to produce the latest Apples & Snakes Homecooking podcast.

Sammy was inspired to create this project on the subject of Trauma Genes after studying and responding to Audre Lorde's poem "Litany for Survival" during our recent #StatesOfViolence 5-day intensive arts/activism course at the Stephen Lawrence Centre.

This spoken word collaboration is made up of original pieces from Shake! participants and London-based poets featuring contributions from Wangu, Nicole, Haneen, Sai and Zena.

Sammy describes the podcast "opening up conversation on the subject of inherited trauma from a limitless number of viewpoints..." and intends to follow up with an event on the same theme.

Follow Sammy on social media to find out more about her and her work:
Twitter: @sammybrough
Blog: tellastorypodcast.wordpress.com
Mix cloud: Sammy Brough