A few changes to how we do things

This post is based on a very recent strategy review. We’ve been down in Keynsham for ten months and thought it was time to have a look at how we’ve been operating, what has worked and more importantly, what hasn’t. Some of what we’ve done has worked, a fair bit hasn’t so, it’s time for a bit of honest reflection a.k.a. self flagellation!

In the interests of transparency, we feel we ought to share some of what we had to say in the strategy review with those of you who support and follow us. Only some, not all, because we don’t want to give the bastards who don’t like us any more ammunition than they already have to use against us!

We always knew that operating as activists in the Avon region was going to be a challenge. These are the reasons why:

  • We moved into an area where there’s already a long established activist scene, particularly in Bristol.
  • We’re well aware that there are elements within the activist scene, particularly in Bristol, who don’t like our take on a number of issues.
  • We knew that because of the above two factors, the tension between what we do with The Stirrer and what we’ve done with Grassroots Alternatives was always going to be an issue.
  • We knew that as soon as people start to realise that there’s a close relationship between the two projects, Grassroots Alternatives would start to suffer as we scaled back on potential distributions of the paper to avoid unwanted aggro.

Enough of the above has come to pass to cause us to pause and rethink how we operate. Not to the extent that we have had any serious aggro but there have been enough indications of mutterings in the background to persuade us that changes need to be made. When you get to the point we are in our lives, it really is the case that life is too short to have to put up with any shite from people who don’t agree with us!

As a result of the tension between what we do with The Stirrer and what we’ve been doing with Grassroots Alternatives, we’ve made a decision. That decision has been to park Grassroots Alternatives and archive the blog. It’s not completely over for the project but we feel it’s necessary to park it while we think about how we move forwards.

Also, the Grassroots Alternatives project has not gained the traction necessary for us to keep it going as a stand alone project. To be honest, it was the same with Alternative Estuary when we were back in the south of Essex. We’d have stalls and paper distros where the papers and leaflets we handed out would be enthusiastically received. We then eagerly awaited for the follow up from those who enthused over what we did. Let’s just say that it was always a long and fruitless wait!

So, the changes we’re making are essentially moving to a fall back position to buy us the time and space we need to work out how we can go forward again. Our fall back position is as follows:

  • Archiving the Grassroots Alternatives blog.
  • Removing The Directory (a listing of grassroots projects, resources and campaigns across the Avon region) from the Grassroots Alternatives blog to avoid the issue of groups asking to be withdrawn from it because of the close links to The Stirrer.
  • Merging some of the Grassroots Alternatives content into The Stirrer, including setting up a category for it.
  • Scrapping what was left of the second issue of the Grassroots Alternatives paper.
  • Removing all the local links from The Stirrer.

The Directory has been offered out as a stand alone project for anyone who wants to take it on, re-brand it and grow it from the point where we had left it. If any of you want a look at where The Directory was at before we stopped updating it, you can download a PDF of it from here. As yet, there have been no responses to our offer. However, it may be the case that people are interested in taking it on but simply don’t want to talk to us as that would mean talking to The Stirrer! We’ll just have to live with this.

We were over-optimistic when we first moved down here and have been brought down to earth by a fair sized reality check. We need to learn some lessons from this experience. What we will be doing is spending the next month and a half consolidating what we have and working out how we go forward. Luckily, we have a short break on the coast lined up for the latter part of June so hopefully, that will give us the time to think things through as we stare out over the vast, empty sands.

Where are we with the blogs?

  • We now have just two live blogs – The Stirrer on WordPress and Stirrings from below… on Substack.
  • The Stirrer WordPress blog includes content that would have been on The Avon Heckler and Grassroots Alternatives – everything we do is now on the WordPress blog.
  • Stirrings from below… on Substack was originally meant to be a back up to the WordPress blog but, it’s taken on a life of it’s own!
  • Blogging wise, we’re at a fall back position, but unless we get significant support from people wanting to help run a grassroots orientated blogging project, we’ll most likely remain at this point with the Grassroots Alternatives blog existing solely as an archive.

A brief aside to deal with our social media presence. On Facebook, the algorithms have pretty much wiped us out. Twitter used to be good for us but there have been and are malevolent forces at work to disrupt the networks that have been built up on that platform since 2020. It’s not just us, pretty much everyone who has challenged the narratives we’ve been fed since 2020 is experiencing the same thing. The one possible ray of light is Substack Notes which I’m still getting my head around.

Where are we with physical propaganda? Given what we’ve written in the past – Moving towards analogue… – about the importance of physical propaganda as opposed to online, about as far from where we want to be as could be! All we currently have are the stickers. If, and it is a big if, we ever produce another publication, it will more likely be in a ‘zine format with content generic enough so it doesn’t matter if it takes up to a year to shift them. We’ll be producing it because we passionately want to, not just for the sake of it.

If things pick up and we get some active support, we may consider printing some promo leaflets for our projects: The Stirrer / Grassroots Alternatives / The Avon Heckler. While we may yet again end up handing out a ‘zine or a leaflet on a protest, it needs to be noted that as things stand, our days of sitting behind a stall at a bookfair are well and truly over:) Sitting behind a stall means being a static target for anyone who wants to give us a hard time and we’re not mug enough to do that!

This is one of the current batch of stickers we’re putting up

Propaganda wise, all we have are a couple of blogs and the stickers. On the blogs, we’ve de-linked to a lot of local groups and campaigns to avoid pointless tensions. We’re pretty much stand alone at the moment. Which means that now, there are fewer constraints on what The Stirrer can say than ever before as we’re not under any obligation to play ‘Mr. Nice Guy’ because of diplomatic considerations!

We need to take some time to think about this but, once we get back from our short break in June, we can start to really take the blogs in the direction they are already hinting at and in the process, be in at the start of something pretty new and exciting as opposed to staying with existing movements that, to a greater or lesser degree, are all compromised in one way or another.

Why does having the freedom to do what we want with The Stirrer matter? It matters because we’re entering what can best be described as ‘interesting times’, a.k.a. a clusterf**k! As we wrote here: A bit of a situation… The ‘great reset’ is well underway along with all the control and containment mechanisms that are being and will be brought in to facilitate it.

This, in all of it’s devious, dystopian and hideous aspects is where we have to aim our fire. We have to do so while admitting that we’re a long way from fully understanding the shitshow we’re in and that we have a massive learning curve ahead of us. Mind you, the years from 2017 onwards have already been a learning curve so in some ways, we’re starting to adopt the mindset we need for what will be difficult and challenging times.

While the propaganda side of what we hope to be doing in the face of the ‘great reset’ is important, we also have to stay grounded. That means grounded in our community in Keynsham. This is why, whatever else we do, the practical projects we’re involved in and hope to be a part of starting up are vital: Attachment, connection and a search for meaning.

To conclude, we have to face the reality of the situation we find ourselves in, admit that we’ve made mistakes and learn from them. Learning from mistakes is an important part of growth and will eventually make us stronger. So people keep telling us anyway! Hopefully from this point, it’s onwards and upwards.


  1. I value your blog greatly at least, sometimes it’s hard to break out of the echo chamber, don’t give up! for stickers, may I suggest you purchase a thermal lable printer second hand, they stickers can fade in the sun, but its so cheap to print and come up with new designs, just merely a few pence per sticker, as for avoiding tensions, that is totaly understandable, but forgive the blackblock larping antifa type youth, for they do not know what they do, they merely emulate the alternatives put forth and we are all under immense psychological warfare tactics, and there are “gatekeepers” everywhere to push these youths in certain directions,but it’s still possible to break through if one finds the right formula, anyway I thought I should extend my tusks in support as it’s easy to get overwhelmed with negativity, enjoy your trip to the coast.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for your support it’s appreciated:) I think where we’re now is in a position that comes from a realistic assessment of the context we operate in here in the Avon region. Sometimes reality checks can prove to be valuable lessons:) Also, things are a lot less complex and easier to manage so there’s a definite upside…


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