What is OARC?
The Oxford Action Resource Centre (OARC) opened in the East Oxford Community Centre in 2005 because nobody else offered a space for grassroots community and radical groups to access the facilities they needed to access to achieve their goals. Some 12 years later we are still going! We are interested in community development and working towards a more socially just and environmentally sustainable society.
- We offer resources for community and activist groups to use.
- We prioritise OARC to be used for activities that make the world and our communities a better place. Our favourite things include:
- Grassroots groups that allow everybody to take part equally.
- Actions that empower people.
- Creating real democracy in our local community.
- We explicity reject hierarchical ways of organising that dominate our society. We do not ask that people do things for us. We work togther to do them ourselves. We do not divide people into leaders and followers. We are all leaders. We do not divide people into masters and servants. We are all masters. We subscribe to the PGA Hallmarks.
Who is involved in OARC?
OARC is run by an open collective of volunteers. Many people currently involved in OARC are involved in several other grassroots, social, environmental, or other causes. We all have a common desire to make resources available for other groups regardless of whether we are involved in them or not.
- Open: Anybody - including you - is very welcome to get involved in running OARC. It can be a bit scary getting involved in a group that you are not used to, but if you share our values we will definitely welcome you.
- Collective: We work together. If different people have different views about how OARC should run, that is fine. We talk to each other and get to a point of consensus where everybody's voice is heard and acted upon.
- Volunteers: We do what we do because we are passionate about it - not because we get paid to do it.
How can I get involved with OARC?
Here are seven top ways to get involved in OARC:
- Come along to OARC organising meetings which are also advertised on the calendar.
- Join the email list, or the wiki.
- Donate your time, skills, or other resources.
- Book the centre for your grassroots events.
- Get involved with other groups that use OARC by going to their events.
- Use the resources.
- Give us your money!
How can I use OARC?
There are two main ways that people use OARC at the moment. You can come along to group events that are publicised on the calendar. Or you can book OARC for your own use & events on the calendar (make sure you read the bits about getting a keyholder for your event).
We prefer to see the room used for events that are free to attend. We ask users to donate towards the costs of things such as the tea and coffee that you use, and to make a donation to cover our rent, materials, and other costs. The donation only covers the cost of what you use - OARC does not make a profit! Our general principle is that people that cannot afford to donate should pay nothing, whilst those that can afford a bit more should donate a bit more. We leave it to you and your consciousness to decide what is appropriate. As a rough rule of thumb, we suggest £1 per person for 'radical & political' events, and £3 per person for entertainment events.
You will, of course, be expected to leave OARC in the clean and tidy state that you find it in. And, if you are able to leave it even cleaner and tidier, we will love you forever!
Groups that have used OARC recently
Here is a small selection of the groups that have used OARC in recent years.
Oxford Indymedia ~ Lashings of Ginger Beer ~ Thames Valley Climate Action ~ Colombia Solidarity Group ~ Oxford Sexual Abuse & Rape Crisis Centre ~ Westgate Campaign ~ Nuke Watch ~ Burma Solidarity Group ~ Undercurrents ~ Oxford Green Party ~ Stich and Bitch ~ Pro-choice Oxford ~ Dissent ~ Reclaim the Night ~ Critical Mass ~ People & Planet ~ Oxford Autonomous Forum ~ SPEAK Animal Rights ~ Oxford No Borders ~ Climate Rush ~ Activist Trauma Support ~ Oxford CND ~ Low Carbon East Oxford ~ HactionLab ~ Play!Fight! ~ Queer Left Oxford ~ BK Luwo ~ Network of Oxford Women for Justice and Peace ~ VisionOn TV ~ Climate Camp ~ UK Action Medics.
Find out who is currently using OARC on the calendar.
What are the PGA Hallmarks?
We use these statements as a starting point for explaining our ideas of justice, although not all users of OARC are expected to explicitly subscribe to all of them.
The People's Global Action network was founded in 1998 by hundreds of people from social movements as diverse as the Brazilian landless peasants movement (MST), Reclaim the Streets in the UK, the Zapatistas in Mexico, radical ecologists from the Ukraine, Maori from New Zealand and squatters from across Europe, all of whom had gathered in Geneva for the founding conference.
The PGA Network was created as a tool for co-ordination and communication to organise global anti-capitalist resistance, particularly to international organisations such as the World Trade Organisation (WTO), and to draw attention to the possibility of alternative forms of social organisation.
The Hallmarks indicate that a group is committed to forward-moving social change were developed in long and difficult meetings. They are:
- A very clear rejection of capitalism, imperialism and feudalism; all trade agreements, institutions and governments that promote destructive globalisation.
- We reject all forms and systems of domination and discrimination including, but not limited to, patriarchy, racism and religious fundamentalism of all creeds. We embrace the full dignity of all human beings.
- A confrontational attitude, since we do not think that lobbying can have a major impact in such biased and undemocratic organisations, in which transnational capital is the only real policy-maker.
- A call to direct action and civil disobedience, support for social movements' struggles, advocating forms of resistance which maximise respect for life and oppressed peoples' rights, as well as the construction of local alternatives to global capitalism
- An organisational philosophy based on decentralisation and autonomy.