April 9, 2008
Given to the People
Fifteen years ago the Pollock Free State was formed as a protest against the construction of the M77 on land which had been gifted to the people of Glasgow. Although the motorway builders eventually won, the campaign left a legacy – much of which continues to thrive. A film has been made which tells some of the story
Given To The People’ is a film telling the story of the Pollok Free State. The Free State was initiated by the actions of local resident, Colin Macleod, who began a tree top protest against the building of the M77 motorway through Pollok Park in the early 1990s. Over several years this grew into a series of camps across Pollok. It sought not only to block an unwanted motorway cutting through one of Europe’s largest inner city public commons, land that had been gifted to the people of Glasgow, but also raised issues over the rights of local people to determine the use and development of public space – rights that many felt were being denied.
Whilst the Free State was unable to stop the motorway it nevertheless succeeded in giving the people of Glasgow something far more powerful: demonstrating the ability of ordinary individuals to come together in common cause, take responsibility for their surroundings, and realise their own initiatives for transforming them. One of these was the creation of the GalGael, a locally run boatyard in Govan which has been widely recognised as one of the most successful community projects in Scotland.
Out of the chaos of the scheme an order was born – in the housing schemes people were disempowered, there was no responsibility … in the Free State people re-learned how to take responsibility and re-learned how to articulate issues that mattered to them.
– Colin Macleod
The story of the Free State is presented through a film combining original video footage from the camps, interviews with some of the many people involved, and specially composed music by the Glasgow band Foxface. The film will be presented in a free public screening at the GalGael with the music performed live by Foxface on Friday 18th April at 7pm.
On Sunday 20th April there will be a special discussion following the film, looking at the legacy of the Free State and how that relates to issues of public space and the environment in Glasgow today.
Now that public space in Glasgow is once again under threat the story of the Pollok Free State is as important today as it was ten years ago.