journeys and friends

I’m in Grimsby now, having eventually got up here last night after a thoroughly enjoyable, if slightly tiring wonder around the UK.  In edited highlights – the trip consisted of a cup of tea with Wes Sutton, leader of the Oasis Trust ‘‘ network, at the Oasis base in Waterloo.  I was really impressed by what the network is doing in Waterloo, and excited to hear their plans for other projects, some alreadty on the go.  Later that evening I returned to the same building, to hear Shane Claiborne speak about his experiences living as an Ordinary Radical. I found out about that event by signing up to a Chrisitan Anarchists mailing list, even though I’m not really an Anarchist.  (Shhhh! Don’t tell!)

That night (Wednesday) was spent with Kyber and Mrs Netikos, at their flat in South London.  Conversations ranged from virtual reality, to killlng sheep with bolt guns, to archery.  And places in between.

Next day, I got to spend some quality time with a friend who wants to expand his clothing company to include a fully ethical range.  He’s already working as hard as he can to ensure his suppliers meet the hghest standards of looking after their workforce, and is trying to integrate organic and fairly traded materials into his supply chain.  Seems like I’ll be able to help him, which is great.

A bit of a rush over to Euston station then, where I was able to grab a few minutes with Dan Radice of Cokoon.  It was good to find out what he’s up to, and to consider what possibilities there are for the future.

Off on to Northampton then, to spend some time with Julie, who is planning to join World Horizons in the summer.  I also got a chance to meet Julie’s church, which is an interesting ecumenical fellowship in the heart of the town, very engaged with their community, and offering a whole load of services, from a shoppers coffee shop, to counselling rooms, and various other things throughout their five separate congregations.

On Friday I headed to Shrewsbury via Birmingham – Shrewsbury is home to Ian Matthews and his family.  Ian is now working for Zondervan in the UK, but I remember him from our first meeting over ten years ago, when he came to work on a late and unlamented Christian magazine that I worked on at that time.  Ian became a friend then, and has remained so, despite not having seen him for a long time.

It was fascinating to see how he and I, through very different paths and in relationship with very different people, have arrived at a very similar place theologically and philosophically (although he’s a left wing libertarian, and I’m not) – it was as surprising as it was encouraging.  We both share the same desire to find a way of living in community as families that really works well – I think we agreed that the ideal scenario would be for a group of families to form an open cooperative, the co-op would then own the property, and the families would pay rent to it.  Given that it nullifies the effects that personal ownership of property have, and allows for a vaiety of people to live in community in a wholesome way, it seems like the best option.  Now, if we could find some other families in Grimsby who were up for that…

A reunion with Kelly and the kids (hooray) meant a short journey to Walsall where we spent the night, and after dispatching the kids to their Grandparents, we went off to the New Monasticism conference in Coventry – which was excellent.  I shall blog further details of that soon.

A last laid back drive along the A46 took us all the way to Grimbo – and tea.

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