Issue 276

[image, unknown] New Internationalist Issue 276

The material that follows has been provided by New Internationalist

From this month's editor

There is a fresh spirit of international solidarity abroad, and it's rising from the grassroots.
The street-paper movement, one of the brightest new publishing ventures in recent years, has had an international perspective from its inception, trading ideas and inspiration across national boundaries and oceans with astonishing ease. Even small activist organizations are bridging the gap between continents: two groups mentioned in this magazine - The People's Dialogue on Land and Shelter in South Africa and SPARC in Bombay - have worked closely together at a local level for several years. Their international exchanges have not been of abstract resolutions in cosy conference centres, but of immediate practical value. We can only hope that the UN 'City Summit' which takes place in Istanbul in June will be half as useful.

[image, unknown] The slum dwellers of Cape Town and Bombay have little difficulty in making the best use of each other's hard-won experience. This kind of response to the much-vaunted globalization of the world's power structures has been a long time in coming. It is ironic - though instructive - that those who are usually thought of as the clearest losers, the third of the world's people without decent homes, are now leading the way.

So it is only fitting that the NI and The Big Issue, Europe's leading street paper, have formed an alliance to produce this magazine on homelessness around the world (you can find out more about the international street-paper movement from "World Exclusive").

[image, unknown] A great many writers, photographers and activists have contributed to this magazine for little or no material reward, but we owe an exceptional debt of gratitude to Diana Mitlin and David Satterthwaite at the International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), for giving us access to their fund of knowledge and for their patient help and advice.

Co-operation can, in theory, produce more than the sum of its parts - what big business likes to call 'synergy'. What big business aims for, however, is a synergy of greed; what we're after here is a synergy of solidarity.

There is an urgent need for this. It is clear to us that, contrary to what the dominant channels of communication usually suggest, there is a sickness of human destitution spreading through the world. The only known antidote is the determination of its intended victims, in alliance with everyone of good will, to resist and work for something better.

We would like to think that the alliance between the NI and The Big Issue marks the beginning of a grand international alliance against homelessness and the conditions that produce it. This may sound more like a grand dream than a grand alliance, but greater things have come from weaker vessels. The power of an international voice that fights for the interests of homeless people could be a power to be reckoned with.

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A.John Bird
The Big Issue
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David Ransom
for the New Internationalist Co-operative

©Copyright: New Internationalist 1996

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New Internationalist issue 276 magazine cover This article is from the February 1996 issue of New Internationalist.
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