2009: Year of Activism

Our Year of Activism - 2009 - constituted a very busy period of consciousness raising actions which sought to discuss, debate and develop the The Meat Licence Proposal towards the enactment of a collaboratively developed Meat Licencing law.

Four key events of 2009:

1.  The year began with the splendid 'Year of Activism' launch dinner, hosted in conjunction with Metal in Liverpool.  The menu for the evening was a specially drafted legal contract - requiring the diners consent for the dinner to go-ahead and the space was embellished with Chris Rodenhurst's terrific sketches - imagining a British society completely at ease with the Proposal.   20 invited guests discussed and debated the Proposal's underlying principles, from a wide range of specialist perspectives including law and ethics, interactive design, contemporary art, fiction, and philosophy.  After the event, attendee Prof. Andy Miah cited The Meat Licence Proposal as symptomatic of a kind of ethical zeitgeist in his Guardian online piece - "We're all activists now."

2.  The 'Feasts and Feasting' Salon hosted by Kira O'Reilly (part of London's new Spill Festival of performance, live-art and experimental theatre) was a terrific opportunity to present The Meat Licence Proposal alongside the work of artists Boo Chapple and Adele Varcoe whose participatory performance work "Hand to Mouth" brings all of the production processes of bizarre gourmet foods into the same space as the diners.  During the salon it was also a privilege to hear the remarkable perspective of food archeologist Martin Jones, whose book 'Feast: Why Humans Share Food' frames the human ritual of sharing food as intrinsically intertwined with human social and political evolution.

3.  FACT's 'Climate for Change' Exhibition played host to the Inaugural Public Meeting of The Meat Licence Proposal - a threshold event where the intangible nature of 'law' was eloquently debated by members of the public from many walks of life.  The event saw the launch of the first 'Meat Licence Proposal Public Information Film,' produced by Tim Brunsden (and with the voice of Sarah Nicolls.)  The film began to outline the ambitions of The Meat Licence Proposal as an organisation which is proposing a distinctly new kind of law - a law which would compel engagement.

4.  Finally, The Meat Licence Proposal's presentation within the context of ISEA 2009, in Belfast, was a chance to take stock and bring into focus the journey that this project has travelled to date.  An important point raised in the resulting debate was the question of distributed power - even if citizens had access to as much information as governments, could they be trusted to make the 'right' laws?  On the same panel, James King discussed his role as a speculative designer in terms of making new objects and experiences appear 'palatable.'  He used as an example his 'Dressing the Meat of Tomorrow' project, posing the question - if 'victimless' meat is grown in laboratories, what might it look like?  (And how would we prefer it to look?)

Clearly, one of the important roles that The Meat Licence Proposal can play in society is in engaging a dis-interested public in the origin of and process of law.  But, whilst, discussion and debate about current legal inadequacies are of vital importance, it is the future of law-making that must be our primary concern.

During 2010, DIY LAW MAKING will be our theme and throughout the year The Meat Licence Proposal will strive to explore, create and distribute new kinds of interface between citizen and law.

John O'Shea
Projects Co-Ordinator
The Meat Licence Proposal


P.S.  If you attended an event during 2009, collaborated on a project or simply shared your opinion - thank you!  You are encouraged to add comments about your experience below: