East London Big Flame, an activist group active in the late 1970s and early 1980s, has created an archive of documents and stories to explore through a dedicated website.
From the group’s own description on their website:
“We were a fluid group of about a dozen young women and men who came together in east London. We probably would have described ourselves as left libertarians. We organised in the community, in workplaces, around class, racism, women’s and men’s issues, for personal change/self-help therapy, and against bias in the media. We saw ourselves not as outside, but as part of these struggles, and saw the links between these different issues as embodying politics in everyday life.
From 1973–5 we belonged to a nationwide grouping called ‘Big Flame’ (www.bigflameuk.wordpress.com). Our projects carried on until the early 1980s, and after that we dispersed and took our ideas and values into different areas of work (teaching; architecture; psychotherapy; archaeology; local government; film-making; writing) as well as into continuing political and community activism.”
Areas of activism included workers’ rights and conditions, a food co-op, housing, education, anti-racism, benefits claims, gender roles, women’s struggles and anti-sexism, and the media. There is also a section on organising non-hierarchically, which brings together the group’s experiences of challenging hierarchies. It highlights some differences between ELBF and the way that some other parties and groups on the left were organised, and also reflects on the difficulties of organising in a non-hierarchical way.
Most of the material consists of original documents from the 1970s and early 1980s. It offers a fascinating insight into the live issues at the time, and how a group of activists communicated and campaigned to highlight alternatives and respond to people’s needs.