Event Diary

Thursday 5th October at 7.30pm

A DIVIDED BRITAIN: WHAT CAN WE LEARN FROM THE NORDICS? THe 12th annual Huddersfield Quaker Peace Lecture
George Lakey’s newest book has a provocative answer.

In July 2017 Melville House released the paperback of “Viking Economics: How the Scandinavians got it right and how we can, too,” a book that was made “Book of the Week” in 2016 by London Times Higher Education. The American activist-sociologist George Lakey speaks to the polarization now experienced in both Britain and his own country and predicts that it will become more extreme as inequality heightens. What he has learned from studying the Nordic countries is that polarization may offer as much opportunity as anxiety.

Sweden and Norway in the 1920s and ‘30s reached the most polarized condition they have experienced in their modern history. Nazis marched with openly anti-Semitic slogans while at the same time Communists were organizing for the dictatorship of the proletariat. It was in this stormy period that democratic socialist popular movements grew rapidly and, through nonviolent direct action, broke the dominance of the economic elite in those countries.

Lakey has analyzed the ingredients of the movements' successes, and finds that some elements could be duplicated in the U.S. and Britain. First is the de-legitimization of the prevailing political order, such that a majority came to see it as only a pretend democracy. Second is broad agreement on a rough vision of what could replace the unequal and unjust economic order. Third was to draw on the new economy experiments which, for the Nordics, was the infant cooperative movement. Fourth was the use of nonviolent direct action campaigns to loosen the power of the economic elite.

The result was that a majority in both Sweden and Norway took power and invented, wih input from Denmark, what economists now call the “Nordic economic model.” By the 1960s polarization was only a memory; Sweden and Norway experienced a very high degree of consensus.

By now their model has for over half a century out-performed the Anglo-American model on a series of criteria for economic well-being, including health, the virtual abolition of poverty, and a high degree of equality. The Norwegians even generate, per capita, more start-ups of new companies than the Americans while the Swedes beat the U.S. on innovativeness as measured by patents.

George Lakey recently retired as professor at Swarthmore College and in August keynoted the annual conference of Nordic business school economics professors held at Budø University in northern Norway. In October he will be on book tour in the UK, including giving a lecture sponsored by Oxford University on Oct 19.

FREE EVENT (inc refreshments)

Click here for the Facebok evnet page

More about George:
Co-founder of the Movement for a New Society - which for nearly 20 years pioneered forms of consensus decision-making, direct action and communal living that are now central to today’s activist groups - George Lakey has led over 1500 workshops on five continents, training coal miners, homeless people, prisoners, Burmese guerillas, steel workers and others. He is Visiting Professor at Swarthmore College.

George Lakey has led 1,500 workshops on five continents, taught peace studies at colleges and universities, and authored seven books on nonviolent social change, peace, and organizational development. Here he was photographed in 2013 while being arrested while occupying PNC Bank to protest its funding of mountaintop removal coal mining in Appalachia.

He has led activist organizations on local, state, national, and international levels. His first time arrested was in the civil rights movement of the nineteen-sixties. During the Vietnam War he sailed into the war zone on a Quaker peace ship, to deliver medicines for suffering Vietnamese and protest the war. More recently he was part of the first team of Peace Brigades International giving protective accompaniment in Sri Lanka to human rights activists threatened with assassination.

Lakey's most recent books are Facilitating Learning Groups and Moving toward a Living Revolution. Other books include Powerful Peacemaking and Grassroots and Nonprofit Leadership: A Guide for Organizations in Changing Times. His first book, A Manual for Direct Action, was a handbook for the civil rights movement of the '60s. In 2003 he co-authored the most extensively researched training curriculum in the field of civilian peacekeeping: Opening Space for Democracy (634 pp., see www.TrainingforChange.org). He writes a regular column for the on-line blog, WagingNonviolence.org.

He is visiting professor in peace and conflict studies at Swarthmore College, 2006- . He has taught peace studies at Haverford College, Temple University, and the University of Pennsylvania, in addition to giving lectures and leading seminars at universities around the world.

His training work took him illegally to a guerrilla encampment in the jungles of Burma, to the coal mine fields of West Virginia to prepare miners nonviolently for the Pittston Strike, most hard-fought coal strike in recent history, and to Cambodia within hearing range of Khmer Rouge fighting. He led peacekeeping workshops in South Africa in the midst of pre-election violence in that country.

On ten training trips to Thailand (1989-1998) he worked with pro-democracy students, environmentalists, Buddhist monks, labor organizers, and feminist organizers. Also in the 1990s he made repeated trips to the former Soviet Union to train a network of consultants and trainers for civil society.

He's led strategy workshops for labor, neighborhood, and community organizers in Taiwan and student organizers in the United Kingdom. For the United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR) in Switzerland he trained indigenous leaders in nonviolent strategy, and also worked with the Mohawk Nation near Montreal, Canada on peacekeeping techniques.

He was a presenter at the first international conference on nonviolence training (Perugia, Italy, 1965) and more recently trained young adult leaders from several Balkans countries at a program sponsored by the University of Bologna, Italy.

In 1992 George was co-founder of Training for Change, a group that spreads the skills of democratic, nonviolent social change. He directed the group for 15 years before retiring.


30th November, Thursday, 7pm


We're really pleased that actor and playwright Michael Mears is bringing his one-man play, This Evil Thing, about conscientious objectors in the First World War to Huddersfield. Free event, donations welcome, fully acceisble venue - all welcome!  Click here for This Evil Thing on Facebook

Here's some more information about the play:


‘For God’s sake! This protest of yours – is it really worth losing your lives over?’

January 1916: Bert Brocklesby is a young schoolteacher, and preacher at his local Methodist church; Bertrand Russell is one of the greatest mathematicians of his time. With the advent of military conscription their worlds are about to be turned upside down.

THIS EVIL THING is the compelling, shocking and inspiring story of the men who said no to war; a rarely told story involving a dizzying journey from a chapel in Yorkshire to the House of Commons; from an English country garden to a quarry in Aberdeen; from a cell in Richmond Castle to a firing squad in France.

‘18? You’re too young to have a conscience!’

With military conscription still in force in many countries today, and prisoners of conscience still languishing in jails, the questions posed by THIS EVIL THING are as relevant and urgent as they were one hundred years ago.

Michael Mears – ‘The Fringe-First Award winning master of the one-man show’ The List (on Soup) –portrays a gallery of characters from conscientious objectors to army generals, from Prime Ministers to world-famous mathematicians, with breath-taking physical and vocal dexterity. This highly original piece of storytelling uses verbatim testimonies, a multi-layered sound landscape and vivid visual imagery.

Director Rosamunde Hutt has just directed the critically acclaimed LOVE, BOMBS AND APPLES (Turtle Key Arts/AIK Productions) at the Arcola Theatre, London and on a UK tour.



Sanctuary Supper: 6-9pm every 2nd Saturday apart from December and August.  Food, conversation and all-age activities - asylum seekers and refugees particularly welcome. Free event - more details: 07952 810814

Craft Club: 10am - 1pm 3rd Monday apart from August. Crafts, chats and lunch.  Free event: details: 07952 810814