I am one week away from being in Newcastle for Platforma Festival, and I couldn’t be more excited. It’s the first time that I have been invited to represent Migration Collective anywhere, let alone outside of the London-bubble that I have lived and worked in for more than two years.
Perhaps what I’m the most interested about from the rich programme of the two-day conference is the panel discussion on ‘The Art of Self-Organising, New Modes of Networking and Cross-Border Solidarities’. As the co-founder of a small organisation challenging the current narrow rhetoric on migration through art, academia and action I can’t wait to hear what other people engaged in the same issues around the country and internationally are doing.
In the past two years, since I started developing projects and events with Migration Collective, I’ve worked and exchanged ideas with a great number of grassroots groups that are doing amazing things to counter racist and anti-migrant sentiments. From social enterprises supporting migrant women in becoming chefs, to the many groups that organise donations to be brought to camps in Europe; from small legal clinics supporting migrants and refugees in getting their cases through the British legal system, to filmmakers who take the brave decision to challenge the stereotypes on migration through their work, it’s hard not to be inspired and get new ideas when groups of people with diverse skills but similar aims are brought together.
I hope that the two days that I’ll spend in Newcastle, thanks to Counterpoints Arts, will allow me to discover new groups engaged in migration issues and to talk about Migration Collective to new potential partners or likeminded individuals. I can’t wait to talk to more people about our forthcoming London Migration Film Festival, now that the programme is almost ready and we are just little more than a month away from the launch night set for 30 November. Or about how we started our activities almost two years ago, as a group of friends with a personal background of and great interest in migration.
It all started in a Vietnamese restaurant in South East London, as we were waiting to go to a theatre play focusing on the life of an Eritrean woman in London. We started talking about how cool it would have been if we started organising our own events, deciding the way in which we want to talk about migration and challenge the mainstream stereotypes that usually portray migrants either as victims or enemies, but never as humans.
We didn’t let that excitement go, and after three months we were presenting our first public events. After almost two years, we are now at our second annual film festival.
To start everything it just took a meal together.