Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Shake! Artist/Activist Training Day #2

2014 is coming to an end, and we've got one final exciting Shake! event for you all before we welcome the new year: our youth-led training day!

Our second Youth-Led Continued Professional Development (CPD) training day, taking place on December 14th, will be an opportunity for the young participants from Shake! to offer training workshops to activists, artists and change-makers on issues they have identified as relevant and worth discussing based on their own expertise and experience. At Shake! we see this as an integral part of challenging power and privilege dynamics in the cultural, environmental and NGO sphere as well as an opportunity to promote real intergenerational dialogue. During this particular training, Shake! participants will offer the following workshops:

1.  Police Brutality and State Violence

2.  Re-evaluating Your 'Self'

3.  Youth, Technology and Social Media

Facilitators for the day include: Annie Rockson, Christianah Babajide and Maaike Boumans.

Workshops will be followed by an afternoon session in which we will discuss how to implement new ideas discussed in previous workshops into our work and daily practices in a strategic and mindful way.

Venue: Platform, 7 Horselydown Lane. Tower Bridge, London SE1 2LN
Time: 10:30 am- 4:00 pm.
We will be sharing breakfast from 10:30 onwards, and have a prompt 11:00am start.
Entrance is free and lunch will be provided.
Since our office is small in capacity please RSVP your space by writing to us at

We really hope that you can join us and contribute to what is looking to be a day full of engaging workshops and conversations!

Facebook event here.

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Climate change: who should we trust?

By Orla Price

On 30 September this year the Free Word Centre held a discussion on the topic ‘Trust and the environment’. The discussion centred on what sources of information we could trust in the face of climate change, and how education, the media, politics and the public perceived threats to the environment. What I found most innovative and indeed engaging about the nature of the discussions was the choice of speakers and the input from the audience. Chairing the discussion was comedian Tiernan Doueib, and the panel included seventeen year old student and activist Claudia Delpero as well as Tony Birch, an Australian novelist. Also, they happened to have me doing a poem.

Often when trying to access debates and discussions on political subjects we are confronted with ‘experts’, academics and politicians who distance us from subjects that affect us constantly. Speaking in languages of their own, these arenas become intimidating, we are made to feel opinions on these matters are ‘left to the experts’ fostering a culture of helplessness at best and complete detachment at worst. By the end of the discussion an audience member pointed out that if the opinions of front line communities that are experiencing the worst of climate change were taken more into account in the media, as well as having their opinions heard by politicians, the public would find it easier to trust the information about climate change and our future, and would then become more engaged with these issues.

Tommy Clark, "Harnessing Nature"
Taking part in this event and also participating in SHAKE! has shown me there are alternative ways to communicate, and that experiential knowledge and telling our stories can have as much –indeed, probably more- impact than passively listening to expert opinions purposely convoluted to distance us from engaging properly with important issues, just in case we pose a threat. 

We're told Change and flux are a part of nature

So nothing or no one can be sure

No magic calculator

Calculating the sums of the future

No equations to justify pure

So we go round in circles with no end

Inaction, the only theory to defend

Can't see the destination, this road has too many bends

People are showing us the answers

Others tell us to step back

Say we can't understand

Palms up, overturned hands

Cash is passed on

They're passing the blame on

Thinking how long this will go on

And I'm doing my bit

But truth is, I'm getting scared of the news

And truth is, I don't know what more I can do

Cause I'm following the advice

But the TV's shouting crisis

Worrying how much time there is

In a society with no off switch

So I'm doing my recycling

But they're making more packaging

Taking the bus to work

Elsewhere they're selling mercs

Checking the labels on my food, trying not to import

Climate refugees moving country, trying not to get hurt

Somewhere in the back of my mind,

I'm thinking it wasn't us that overstepped the line

We're coming to a point where doing our bits not enough,

There's got to be someone out there we can trust

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Why Do They Judge Me? New Rebels Ditch Bingeing for Bingo

We know we are lucky to be working with Dershe and Patrice from NuWave Pictures, not only are they great film-makers and facilitators, they always prepared to tell and show new stories and non-mainstream narratives through their work. We are proud to see their latest short film for Channel 4 do exactly that by challenging stereotypical perceptions of young people.

More info below from the Channel 4 Website and watch the film here

"Youth used to go hand in hand with rebellion. But Channel 4 News speaks to the Londoners playing it straight and challenging perceptions of what it means to be a millennial rebel in 2014.
Eat, sleep, rave, repeat, eat, sleep, rave repeat: just your average day in the life of an early twentysomething - if the myths (and Fatboy Slim) are to believed.

Despite plenty of studies showing that young people are skint, stressed out about the future and worried they will never get a decent job, they are still subject to perceptions that they are either lazy, or out to cause trouble. The recent 2011 riots, still fresh in people's memory, haven't helped the cause.
Generation swap - tune in to Channel 4 News at 7pm for more on the new millennials
Down at Bingo Palace, in the inner depths of Elephant and Castle shopping centre in London, Gary Dighton is there with his mum and for him, it's all about the win: "I'd prefer make money, than just go out and drink." The most he has won is £80, but this is a big club with national games - players regularly win up to £1,000.

He's close to his mum, and takes her twice a week for a night out. But just by virtue of being a hoodie-wearing 20-year-old, he says he rubs people up the wrong way. "People around where I live aren't very polite to me. It's their influences, they just think I'll be involved in crime or something," he said.

He's not the only one more likely to be down the bingo hall, than down the pub - and it's not just the hipster joints putting on bingo nights as an ironic nod to a bygone era. The Bingo Palace manager Patrick Kelly, who's also vice-chair of the Bingo Association, says the average age of players is getting younger.

"Young people are always attracted to clubs that are bigger, busier, and offer good money. It's like everything - it's about the atmosphere that goes with it," he said. "They come in the evening. People often meet up, and you'll see them moving from table to table. It's a very safe environment, especially for women.""

Headspace - Shake #5 Poem - "Dear Beauty in the Rubble"

Headspace: when we think about how the amazing capabilities of the mind to imagine and  agility of the brain to calculate, reason and deduce, we always imagine it to be an electrifying place to be. It should and always be.
Shake's Headspace 2014  is about how we connect with these abilities, how we learn and how the brain and mind should be maintained as healthy places. Shake thought about the brain and mind in relation to the human spirit and the well being of the body.
Environment and relationships will influence how the headspace interprets and creates the world we live in. So all that said what did Shake Headspace discover or reveal? 

For one week we explored how the education system and the environment young people learn. Often learning is exciting. Often they feel stressed and pressurised. We spoke about how when a regimented, conformist, often discriminatory  hyper-consumerist and oversexualised society becomes too much, confidence and esteem are so affected, the body will react. The human spirit might be distracted but the mind is an amazing thing and will create all kinds of coping mechanisms to keep the body alive and "safe". Here is where assessing and taking care of our mental well being comes into play. 
We heard stories of first hand experiences with medication for depression and many shared other less mentally aggressive means to get through another day. Sharing our day to day sanity self maintenance was one of the weeks highlights, along with the brilliant games to provoke discussions and debate which inspired some very cool creative work.

Through images, poetry and film, we unpacked one of the most crowded places on the planet - inside our heads. Orla Prices image, which we have used for all Shake August 2014 promotion, is a perfect illustration for our headspace inquiry.
Here is the video of Shake! poets group piece that the Shake! filmmakers produced with our brilliant film duo, Dershe and Patrice from NuWave Productions. 

"Dear Beauty" puts the system we live under in the spot light and praises the subtle energy of  the human spirit resisting modern day pressures.
Powerful stuff as usual...  

Dear Beauty Amongst the Rubble

Eternally conflicted
I pray for the day
They tell you that your beauty can only take you so far

I am breaking through
Burning up inside

The base of a tool you proclaim necessary
The weight of thousands on me
Lost on earth my forefathers reigned the land

My existence displaces that which came before me
abused so freely  with confidentiality 
you created me
A fever constantly rising 
you created me

Your power can beat me?

I might be forgotten, faded now
but the Earth used to be mine

yes I look happy, I feel yellow
But they don;t tell you without their version of beauty
you're given permanent scar

How does my thinness grow green out of this dense grey?

The wind blows the tune
The gentle flower dances happily

Monday, 27 October 2014

Shake! Showcase no.5: #HeadSpace Reviews

Last Tuesday, October 7th, the Shake! family took over the stage at Rich Mix for the Shake! Showcase no.5, hosted by our friends at Numbi. We saw shakers performing powerful pieces of poetry and music, and presenting the new short doc 'Education?' to a packed audience.  Since then we've received a great amount of messages from people who came to see the show -both long-time supporters as well as new Shake fans- and from participants themselves, sharing their experience of the Showcase.

We were so happy to receive such warm messages of support that we thought we should share some with you!

"Awesome showcase from the incredibly talented young people of Shake.  Any youth workers and educators that work with young people interested in social change and expressing themselves creatively-contact Shake-" Abbie 

"Had such an awesome time at the Shake showcase tonight"- Maria

"Last night was so enjoyable... I have to congratulate you and the team on such a well thought out and certainly important show it was to witness. Thank you!!" Jermaine

Friday, 10 October 2014

Shake Showcase #5 @ Rich Mix London

The blue Shake! banners pinned to the walls, clipboards and notes flurrying about, groups of Shake! participants deep in concentration rehearsing their lines on stage or tucked away in corners,  sound-checks, mic-checks, warm embraces to old Shake friends being made.. it’s that time again…

On Tuesday 7th October we hosted our 5th Shake! Showcase at Rich Mix London.  Teaming up with our family at NUMBI, the show was based on the August Shake! Intensive Course, “HeadSpace”, and shakers came from far and wide to perform their art and share their political insight and ideas with the public.

During the course in August, the participants used a variety of poetic, musical and filmic tools to dig deep and critically respond to the central theme of “HeadSpace”. Having created a wealth of original artistic work,  the showcase offers an extension to the week of radical learning, and gives a platform where the participants can express their creativity to an audience.

The hosts Cizz, Tasnima & Edwina 
Performing to a full house, our hosts Cizz, Tasnima and Edwina took us on a journey through poetic lyricism, thoughtful rhymes, sweet melodies, and engaging documentary film. Shakers old and new performed, extending the family and widening our community.

Young people that had never been on stage before bravely stood in the spotlight and read their poetry to the 160 people in the audience, followed by a loud chorus of heart-felt applause each time.  Young people that had never made a film before premiered their documentary, followed by a professional panel discussion and Q & A with the filmmakers and audience.  

In conversation with the filmmakers 

The dynamic mixture of performances and contagiously good vibes and spirit meant that the show was funny, thought-provoking, inspiring, and deeply profound – with all of the work reaching an incredibly high-standard. Everybody left with a huge smile on their faces, buzzing with energy and positivity. 

The showcase not only gives the participants a chance to exhibit their creative work, it also serves as an opportunity to engage the public in the social and environmental issues covered at the Shake! Course, and uniquely, from a youth voice. The spectators get the chance to view these topics through the Shake! lens of art,
Spoken word by Mujtaba Ahmed
   media, race and power – which opens up new    ways of seeing and understanding to more and more people. 

The effectiveness of the show can be summed up by the way one girl came up to me at the end of the performances and said “you’re definitely gonna see me up there next time...” She, like many others there, had caught the Shake bug.

Watch out for Shake! Showcase #6…. You really don’t want to miss it.

Saara J-R

Thursday, 2 October 2014

Shake! well-being skills pool: Top tips for surviving the system

Here are some of the Shake!r's top tips for countering and surviving the system:

The importance of finding and defining community, and the coming together of like-minded people through ideas.

co-operation = good!
oppressing your friends = not so good...

We must maintain awareness that there is a dominant narrative, and question whose interest it serves to maintain the status quo and accept norms and existing power structures… And then, we must challenge these! For instance, through:
-> music
-> youth work
-> alternative education
-> graffiti
-> group facilitation
-> the internet (non mainstream media)
-> independent film
-> things like SHAKE!
Check out Orla's poem
combating gender marketing from a young age:
'just for humans'
Despite what the education system tells us, knowledge is not always gained through written word. Education is in the experience; you can't just go somewhere to 'get educated.' Check out the trailer for the short film soon to be released, co-created by some of the Shake!rs and NuWave Pictures:

Finding ways to stay strong and remain positive. Annie Rockson shared with us a helpful tool from her new book for combatting stress:

Step one, work out the root of your stress:
1. Emotional (how you feel) - scared, sad, etc
2. Behavioural (how you behave) - addiction, procrastination, etc
3. Environmental (your surroundings) - family, work, friends, etc
 4. Physical (bodily) - bad diet, poor posture, lack of exercise etc

Step two, work out why you feel like this:
1. What is the perceived stress?

Then, you must choose the course of action most suitable for the occasion:
                               Fight, or flight! 

   (or find some other Shake!rs for a group hug…hugs are always good)
The importance of reclaiming inaccessible spaces and creating safe spaces. Spaces have memory: they are more than a material construct, they have spirit and we must challenge the removal of community spaces. Here's a poem by Zena doing just that:

And last, but most certainly not least, we must - unite, resist and stay resilient!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Event: Shake Showcase no.5 - #Headspace

Following an intense Shake! summer course at Bernie Grant Arts Centre.  We are back! This time we explored issues of well-being, activism, power & privilege, and mental health and so much more Our next showcase might just be our best one yet! Hosted by afropunk collective Numbi Arts, the event will take place at
Rich Mix
Oct 7th 
Doors open at 6:30pm

We are lucky to have an explosive line-up of poets: Adaobi, Connie Iloghalu, Dami, Cizz Centrik, Haneen Hammou, Iqra Shazad, Tasmia Salim, Tito Mogaji-Williams, and Will Sayer. Also  are excited to welcome back returning Shakers Annie Rockson, Nathaniel Chapman, Holly , Lateef, Mujtaba Ahmed and Orla Price. As usual, they will be joined on stage by in-house talent Zena Edwards and Sai Murray.

We will be hosting the premier of the latest Shake film, a documentary about failing education in the UK. Our film crew includes Anisa Rashid, Ary Surendran, Carmen Hoang, Dhelia Snoussi, Ezhilojan Jeyakumar, Isla Munro, Olivia Kamara, Maria Kelly, Maria Gous, Amrin, Nadia Nafakh, Sonia Padia, Tilly Ottley-Matthew and Zaieda Coker. The film was co-produce by Nuwave Pictures’ Dershe Samaria and Patrice Etienne.

 Joining us will be musician and poet Marcina Arnold & shake!r Zareeen. Happy to have Dj Zhao in the mix, and the Numbi Family Drumdancesong Poetic Jam Session.

Tickets for the event are £5 and available via Rich Mix box office: 02076137498, Concessions are available just email

See you there!