SAYING SUMMIT

The 9th February and found me at the annual Summit of Lush Ltd the cosmetics retailer held in the Grade I listed Tobacco Dock Warehouse in the East End of London. The invite had materialised from being involved in a film project exploring food poverty and homelessness in the UK. My engagement with Lush until recently has been one of passive customer occasionally popping into their shops to purchase a gift. To be perfectly honest I have also felt a sense of cynism when a private business adopts a proactive approach towards charity, but then there is a marked difference OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAbetween charity and charitable causes. Thankfully Lush know the difference. In a time when ‘dumbing down’ is the order of the day not many private companies have taken the courageous position of supporting charitable causes that question, educate and force debate while selling their products. The Lush Summit is a colourful mixture of unadulterated fun, product sales, lectures, workshops on no violent civil disobedience and stalls promoting a whole range of causes and campaigns. The audience is young, by my standard very young. My cynism between the sale of ethical bath bombs and heart-wrenching stories are eased when I quickly discover that through the sales of their products Lush are able to support OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAthese stories to be heard. In fact, amongst the many campaigns and causes I visit and speak to during the day it’s the one called Obliterated Families, which brings me to the point of tears.  Obliterated Families documents the stories of families during the Isreali government’s 2014 offensive on the Gaza Strip. Anat Shenker-Osorio, a communications expert, and researcher provides a fascinating and very informative talk about how we can change the narrativeimg_3646 when discussing immigration. In another room campaigners against airport expansion give workshops on the effective use of non-violent civil disobedience, while in other rooms group’s exchange information across a wide spectrum of issues from human slavery, refugee support, international peace, disabled people against the cuts, animal welfare campaigns, hunt saboteurs, etc. Lush are incubating an eco-system of resistance, which an inclusive political system would normally embrace. Through their work, Lush are helping to challenge the ascending narrative that general ignorance provides political leaders with the legitimacy to denigrate those in need of a little humanity, while at the same time helping to equip our politics with the next generation of progressives. Long may they carry on this good work.

 

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