The decision to head off for a new adventure in Sunderland meant slowly letting friends and colleagues know that after 23 years of 'always being there', it was finally time to leave Bradford. I had 3 months notice to work through, so I deliberately set about making sure that it was a proper ending. Big parties, and lovely walks in my favourite places.
The Month of May saw local elections, and in Bradford, several Respect candidates upset the political apple cart once again. Everyone worried that Respect would 'bus in' councillors from further afield, but actually they simply went for the best local candidates who could sign up to their broadly left manifesto. A few friends stood, and sadly lost, but many excellent new councillors appeared in the council chambers. Even a few labour councillors secretly cheered at the demise of the autocratic former city council leader.
May also saw the surprise election of Francios Hollande, a left wing president vowing to end the era of 'austerity' by promising investment and social improvements. After economic right wing coups in Greece and Italy, finally some hope on the European front at long last.
June saw 'The Big Lunch' street party on Ashgrove - our most successful community event ever, with hundreds of people turning out to celebrate Bradford's diverse culture, and hardly a royalist in site. In a lovely turn of events, the group of trainee clergy who were helping me for the day were mostly from Sunderland! It gave me some great contacts for my journey to the North East.
The other interesting early Summer event, was the occupation of the Westfield site. The protest camp was aimed at the failure of Westfield to develop the city centre site, and it was met with strong support by local people. Because of George Galloway's support for the occupation, most of the local councillors condemned the action. Along with the 'occupy Menwith Hill Camp' that also sprang up during the summer - it seemed the natural way for the 'occupy' movement to go. Small, autonomous actions that showed up the failings of the Capitalist and Military rulers. Unstoppable and inspiring.
June also saw my last ever Street Angels shift - a project I had seen come to fruition over the last 5 years. It was sad to do my last evening with the gang - but I did feel I was getting ready to let go - and the current chair, Matt Dowson is a very capable chap. June also saw the third (and my final) 'Walk for Justice' to show solidarity with 'Sanctuary seekers' (sanctuary as opposed to the derogatory term used by the government; 'asylum seekers') This walk between Bradford and Leeds has been a real joy, allowing some quality time with people who have endured so much to come to the UK for safety.
June also saw the coup in Paraguay, bringing down President Lugo, the only fully blown Liberation Theologian to have ever been elected to power. On a happier note - Bob Diamond, chair of the corrupt Barclay's Bank was finally forced to resign. Lugo probably didn't get the kind of golden handshake that these corporate criminals get away with.
In July, there was a final party at Desmond Tutu House, and a beautiful service at SoulSpace. There I was presented with some wonderful bunting - each piece made by a different member of the church. It was all very moving, and I wept heavily during the final Eucharist. The end of an era.
I managed to avoid all of the Olympic fever by departing for a superb and much needed family holiday in Uruguay. It was a very special time, filled with many walks, good family fun, horse riding and even some drawing time.
Back in England, the last act of the summer was heading to the Greenbelt Festival, which was as inspiring and joyful as ever. August over, all my goodbyes said - it was time to head to Sunderland
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