HOW YOU CAN HELP ROCKAWAY PARK
Rockaway Park is committed to helping people though community engagement and sharing skills, knowledge and experiences that benefits others, irrespective of income or situation. We’re always looking for alternative ways to do traditional things that are ethical, sustainable and help create a better world. Everyone we work with has the same commitment to our ethos to help us succeed in our mission to make radical changes in how humans exist on this planet. We recycle/reuse/repurpose wherever we can, and utilise green energy, as well as ethical and sustainable practice to support biodiversity, creative output,
health and well-being.
We're not a charity, we’re not rich, and we're ineligible for most funding streams, which means all our activities have to be self-sustaining to ensure we can keep going. Any profit we do make is ploughed back into developing our community-based projects and spreading the message about our mission. In helping others think of alternative ways of doing traditional things, we're aiming to create a ripple effect of positive manifestation. Listed below are ways you can help us, as well as other good causes we support.
ROCKAWAY PARK PROJECTS YOU CAN SUPPORT
The Church or 'Chapel of Unrest'
Mark's story about the Church...
The Church - or 'The Chapel of Unrest' to give it its full title - is what is known as a Quonset building. These buildings arrive in sections no larger than 8 feet x 2 feet, which are then bolted together with thousands of bolts. We were lucky enough to buy this one second-hand from an old acquaintance of mine. It's unfinished and, as it turns out, that's been one of its most useful attributes.
As Covid hit, it became obvious that if people were still going to meet for events, workshops, or to work on joint projects, it was going to be much safer if we left the front and back walls incomplete, allowing the wind to blow through freely, providing the vital ventilation we all needed. It's one of the aspects that has now (three years later), helped define the Chapel, its function and its purpose. We are going to turn it into a monument to protest, or the loss of the right to protest, as well as acknowledging what we, as a people, have been through these last few years... and here are some of my reasons why.
Some years back, we were visited by the business rates department at the local authority. They were of the opinion that this building at Rockaway (The Church) was an industrial unit and subject to business rates. I replied that it was a church, because at that point, we'd only ever used it for a wedding, and thus it was almost certainly exempt from business rates. They then said that in order to be a church, you must first have a recognised religion. This, in short, is how many of my conversations with authority have gone over the years, and I accepted the challenge.
As usual in these situations, I consulted our old friend Google, and the first thing I discovered was that a recognised religion needed to have at least 60,000 followers. Subsequent investigation revealed that this was not in fact true, but it suited me, and in any case, when did facts ever get in the way of religion?
I liked the 60,000 figure. I realised that if I found 60,000 potential followers and each of them donated £10 to the church, we would soon have £600,000. If we created a church membership with a unique t-shirt, screen printed here using ethically sourced materials, and charged £20, we would raise over a million. We would then be in a position to create an incredible church/chapel, adorned with beautiful things, made by amazing artists and creatives - many of whom we already know and work with. People could call in from time to time and commune with 'the congregation of aggravation.'
It's a no brainer, I thought - let's build a church! A living, breathing monument to the things we've lost, or the people we may have lost, and a bold statement that we haven't given up on our dreams of a better world, in spite of the relentless attacks from our leaders. It says that we don't agree with your analysis and we want life to be good for people everywhere because we're capable of so much more.
A 'Chapel of Unrest.'
I thought more and more about this religion business and started to realise that
all this nonsense I'd been spouting actually made a lot of sense. My daughter suggested I should stop ridiculing religion and acknowledge I was actually quite a spiritual guy. She lent me a book about science and belief, and there were a few things in there that jumped out at me. Such as the fact that humans need places of pilgrimage and meditation; places where they can commune with each other and the natural world; spaces to come together and sing. So, it began...
The rear walls are constructed using gabion baskets filled with Rockaway stone. As we're situated in a disused quarry, stone is never far away, but a few years back we had a large rockfall, which produced about 100 tonnes of stone. The same daughter remarked at the time: "if the world gives you lemons, make lemonade," and we took her advice and built many of the walls throughout the site. The insets of crushed cans, which are also in gabion baskets, are recycled drinks cans which have been compacted. I like to think they resemble stained glass windows.
The huge and beautifully carved 'A' which dominates the space, was made by splitting a dead oak tree in half and reassembling it in opposition, or 'bookmarked.' When we first came to the quarry, this tree (which was growing in the top yard) had been badly damaged in a fire some years earlier. Every year it would sprout just a few leaves. Even though it was virtually dead and in the way of the work we were trying to do to the land around it, I stuck with it for many years. Eventually, it became too dangerous and had to be felled, but I knew we would make something beautiful out of its timber in order to honour it.
In 2020, Neil and Hannah joined us in isolation after returning from Australia to a completely locked down Britain. While they were staying with us, Hannah carved the amazing detail into the tree. We then attached the wrought iron metal strap, which I'd originally found in a skip in Portsmouth. This beaten metal strap helps hold it together and is hand-stamped with words spoken by the Spanish anarchist, Buenaventura Durutti:
"We are not afraid of the ruins. We are going to inherit the earth. There is not the slightest doubt about it.
The bourgeoisie can blast and burn its own world before it finally leaves the stage of history. We who ploughed the prairies, and built the cities, can build again, only better next time. We carry a new world here in our hearts. That world is growing this minute.”
We are already well into creating louvered, opening steel windows to reference the importance that ventilation played in the pandemic. We're going to fill them with stained glass depictions of protest and hope. We've also bought and started work on carved stone windowsills. We're going to wrap beautiful, wrought iron staircases around the already positioned, carved oak central feature, and cover the front wall and the internal floors in mosaics and tile work.
Amongst 'our' people are some incredibly talented craftspeople, artists, and multitudes of other talents and we’re going to use some of the money raised to pay them to do amazing work. We want to bring them together, share and develop lasting bonds and promote co-operation. We need to do something to show others that all is not lost. We are strong when we work together, and we are very good at what we do! Can our government say the same? Certainly not!
Eventually, aside from being a chapel and a place of pilgrimage, the building will function as a cinema, as well as a dining hall, yoga and meeting space. It can host spoken word events, meetings and plays. It already serves as a market for Rockaway Sunday sessions.
I'm the first to admit this started off as a ridiculous idea, and there are far more important things that need doing in the world. But only £10 will make a big difference (it already is.) It will encourage dialogue and debate, and provide a place for people to think outside the box. It's a little sanctuary in a sea of madness and will hopefully inspire others to realise we're not hopeless, we are capable of amazing things.
We would love for you to join us on this journey. We share it all on instagram @thechapelofunrest and many people have told us how much they enjoy watching it all come together, and the sense of belonging it helps foster. It's only a tenner to join (or £20 with a t-shirt, A3 back patch or poster) and there will be no on-going funds required because it’s a one-off - though you will get discounts on anything else the 'congregation' creates as we go along.
For avoidance of doubt, this is an inclusive 'religion'. I haven't got the slightest interest in telling you how, why, who or when you need to worship... Do what you like as far as I'm concerned. Just be kind and respectful to each other. We won't have a lot of rules - in fact that might be the only one!
There's a lot more to follow for our congregation, such as regular content and updates, including new imagery, podcasts and videos, as well as other goodies...
So, watch this space, and thank you for being a part of it!
A Message For Early Chapel Members
There are a few people who paid for membership over the Summer of 2022 that we're currently unable to contact. Because we only have handwritten email addresses that can sometimes be tricky to decipher, we've had a number that bounced back....
So, if you remember signing up to be a Chapel supporter June - December 2022 and you haven't heard from us yet, please get in touch and let us know your contact details so you can claim your membership pack, as well as receive updates from Mark.
Many thanks and apologies for the delay.
Podcasts & Interviews!
Mark has also been interviewed by Ed Gold, photographer, podcaster and creator of
Positive Futures - an online magazine with beautiful photographs and interviews that focus on alternative ways of living all over the world. If you're interested in the November 2022 edition, featuring Mark and a host of other interesting and creative people (some of whom are based in the South-West) please click below:
To listen to a podcast of the full interview on Spotify between Mark and Ed Gold, please click on the image below:
To listen to a section of the podcast that focuses on Mark talking about the Chapel of Unrest, please see the video on our YouTube channel below:
Follow the Chapel of Unrest on Instagram!
Commoners Choir Chapel of Unrest Song
Rockaway's Community Forest Garden
Rockaway’s Community Forest Garden is our vision to create a magical forest garden built on permaculture principles, that's accessible to all. Not only does it provide a beautiful space for visitors to enjoy, it also acts as an educational resource and wealth of biodiversity that will ultimately benefit the community and environment as a whole.
The full story of the garden project - including documentaries, other videos, developments and how you can donate - can be found on our new garden fundraising page, along with plans for Stage 2 of this exciting project! Donations can also be anything to help our garden grow, like plants, seeds, trees, garden tools, plus any materials that can be recycled. We appreciate and use everything we're given, so thank you for helping our garden grow!
If you'd like to donate any seeds, plants, trees, tools or materials, hit the CONTACT button below. If you'd like to contribute with a bit of money, please head to our GoFundMe page via the DONATE button, where you'll find all the details, including our rewards scheme.
There are several ways you can make a donation. Anything you can give is truly appreciated and valued because it helps us develop and provide more for the community - creatively, culturally, environmentally. Donations don't necessarily mean money, which is always gratefully received. There are other things that can help us develop, and everything donated to Rockaway is put to good use - raw materials, tools, kit or equipment.
If you'd like to make a donation to Rockaway Park, please use the contact button below, and many thanks for your support!
Our workshops are not only informative, supportive and creative, in a unique inspirational setting, they also give people the chance to develop their skills and learn new ones. The mental health benefits are also not to be underestimated, providing new perspectives on life, creative practice and what can be achieved with collaborative working.
We’d like to be able to offer free places to those who would love to do a workshop, but who don’t have the money because they’re on a low income or benefits. So, this is an opportunity for us to ask those who can, to donate some money and support someone taking part in one of our workshops.
You could be helping a woman learn welding that could lead to self-employment opportunities. Or help a young adult learn how to play the guitar and forge a musical path for themselves – perhaps give them the confidence to perform in the future with others in a band. Or help children learn how to create their own screen-printing designs and the ethical practice that goes with it, along with the power of messaging to express themselves freely. With the development of our workshop programme, plus our exciting course plans with work experience opportunities in the creative industries, the possibilities are limitless.
If you would like to donate and provide a place for someone to undertake a workshop, please contact us below. Thank you for your support - any amount donated will really help!
A LEGACY FOR THE FUTURE
Rockaway Park’s Legacy scheme is a donation that will help us develop and fulfil our mission, as well as help as many people as possible create a kinder, healthier, more supportive world. A legacy is a portion of money donated to Rockaway Park to help support all aspects of what we do – such as develop our community forest garden, spaces for more workshops and classrooms;
equipment and materials.
With a legacy donation, we will meet with you and find out about you; your interests, your hopes for the future and discuss what you would like your legacy to be. It could be a fruit tree planted in your name, or a bench carved with your favourite inspirational quote – something that leaves a little piece of you at Rockaway for future generations!
To discuss a legacy, please contact us by clicking below.
CAUSES ROCKAWAY SUPPORTS
If you want to help other groups that need support, particularly any community based projects, you might want to consider some of the fundraisers & groups we support at Rockaway Park. Click on any button below for a direct link to the relevant website for all the info, plus ways you can help.
Friends, Families & Travellers
This leading national charity works to end racism and discrimination against Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people and to protect the right to pursue a nomadic way of life.
They support individuals and families with the issues that matter most to them, at the same time as working to transform systems and institutions to address the root causes of inequalities faced by Gypsy, Roma and Traveller people.
BASE Social Centre
BASE social centre in Bristol have put principles of mutual aid, solidarity, self-organisation and co-operation into practice for over 25 years. Providing genuinely affordable/free space to a wide range of community, campaign and activist groups, as well as hosting innumerable events, this important grass roots project needs help to raise much-needed funds.
The People's Republic of Stoke's Croft (PRSC) is a community enterprise that has worked tirelessly since 2007 to promote civil liberty with a particular focus on public space. Sweeping, painting and speaking out are part of their resistance to zealous overregulation of independent initiative. They run small art and community projects in Stokes Croft and around Bristol, often for free. They also collaborate with other art and community groups, who benefit from their facilities and resources.
Shelter's Fair Renting
Bristol’s unfair private renting system is driving poverty and homelessness and breaking up our communities. This campaign demands the city's political leaders tackle high and out of control rents, ensure that homes people are renting are decent and safe, as well as tackle discrimination with a local action plan to stamp out 'No DSS' practices.
Use your voice and sign their manifesto for urgent change.
The Good Law Project
The Good Law Project is a not-for-profit campaign organisation that uses the law to protect the interests of the public. They fight cases that defend, define or change the law and use litigation to engage and educate. They challenge abuses of power, exploitation, inequality, and injustice, and do an excellent job of holding the powerful to account. Their central aim is to uphold democracy, protect the environment and ensure no one is left behind.
Led By Donkeys
Funded 100% by the public, Led by Donkeys hold the powerful to account by using their own words against them in posters and videos plastered on giant billboards, buildings and cliff faces. You've probably seen their work on the Houses of Parliament or the white cliffs of Dover. Art, Activism and Accountability is their motto, proving that satire and truth are inextricably linked!
“We share the belief of the overwhelming majority of the British public that animals should be defended from persecution in the name of ‘sport’, and therefore we pledge to ensure we will never allow, promote or otherwise enable blood sports such as hunting, shooting or animal fighting."
For more info about the League Against Cruel Sports and their Business Without Blood Sports initiative - including the other 120+ businesses who have also taken the pledge - please visit their website below.
"Would those who say it can't be done, please stand clear of those doing it"