In Donnys Own Words

“Party Leader” Olivia Jones pictured wearing the Rosette created by Natasha Clarke and Mother Hookers (photo: Rasha Kotaiche)

Doncopolitan’s role in the #ParallelState was to help curate the event and explore our own interpretation of the brief. To us, the brief represented redistribution of power back to the people that make Donny “Donny”- its people. So we decided to create a faux political party. We had canvassers out in the street asking real people what they really thought and collated the information collected into a speech written by Doncaster:

As the party leader of The Parallel State, my role here today is to speak for the collective. Entrusted with the views and beliefs of Doncaster’ townspeople. I speak to you all today with the challenging task of representing them as best I can. An immense responsibility, not taken lightly. The Parallel State opposes traditional structure and with that in mind we have decided to let Doncaster, speak for itself. Though composed by myself, this speech is made up of opinions and perspectives, collected by our canvassers; who walked through the town speaking to patrons face to face or joined online neighbourhood watch meetings to really listen to what those who care really have to say. Politics impacts every single one of us, so the decision making needs to be accessible to all.

We, the people of Doncaster,  of differing views and walks of life respond to the provocation of the Parallel State. We, as a collective, use this opportunity to voice our thoughts on the town, the impact of geographical barriers and the use of public space. We no longer want to exist as a stereotype of an ex mining town. We want to push ourselves and our leaders to improve Doncaster and transform it into a state that we can believe in. For many of us, we have watched our industries decline and have only felt small relief of those impacts, when our countries politicians have needed our votes. When they use ‘Brexit Bribes’ and empty promises to manipulate and contort our faith into a ballot solely for their benefit. Soaring unemployment rates have led to large low income families, who’s children have been struck with huge cuts to youth services. Riddled with boredom as their youth clubs, sports centres and after school sessions have been shut down. Trapped in poverty and halted from prospering, we don’t want to feel hopeless anymore.

We want to see the passion of those in charge. Not be told how much they care but to see them, commune with them, know that we are being heard. We are a town that has been burned by those we trusted in the past, like with all wounds we need time to rebuild that trust. We need time to relearn that the people who take charge, of that which we hold so dear, aren’t here simply for the money, they won’t allow one person to have a monopoly on our town and will keep our home’s best interests as their top priority. We want to see ourselves represented by our council. A mirror image of our collective body, interacting and more importantly understanding what we need and why we need it. Our figureheads must delve into the wealth of knowledge that our community appointed leaders hold, being guided by them.In the parallel state we see autonomy in our fringe areas, the ability to govern their own affairs. We break down the cliche of a metropolitan hub, that accepts all opportunities on behalf of the state whilst keeping a particular cache for the elite few, or those fortunate enough to have the right postcode. We reject the geographical barriers imposed by our nation and we refuse to accept the same on a smaller scale here. We need to see a push on community building, coalitions and collaborations because we know we are stronger together, we know we what it feels like to be left behind and we spurn the idea of doing it to each other. 

Part of the provocation of The Parallel State challenged our use of public spaces; what works, what doesn’t, how we use it and how we can better our use of it. Our challenge to local authority is to push us away from the drinking culture that has become synonymous with Doncaster. Help us develop the night culture that is so desperately missing from our roster. We challenge you to create spaces for enjoyment and socialisation that feel safe to bring our children and that we can enjoy as families. Many of us call for a replenishment of the Marketplace, a site steeped in such rich Doncastrian history; the place that put us on the map and should be respected as such. Not just the wool market either, the stalls. The men and women who brave the elements whatever the weather, to sell their wares and bring us fresh produce. We challenge you to encourage patronage of small local business and help restart the economy here. Retain the attention of those who reside here and attract the attention of those who don’t. We challenge you to create more entertainment opportunities, starting with concerts and festivals; build on the structures that are already in place such as St James’ Bathhouse. Beautiful buildings that cannot go back to what they once were but have the potential to evolve into something completely new. We ask for support in developing our community spaces, whether that be cultivating our gardens or finding ways to exercise outdoors with our neighbours. Separately from how we use public space, we also want to look at who uses it. It is no secret that our town centre has been plagued with the sickness of addiction, leaving many homeless. We ask our elected officials to prioritise support for those affected, reopen public toilets for them to use. Provide housing and support for them, show them the humanity they desperately need instead of ushering in police to force them out. Of course want our children to feel safe but we need them to see that decency costs nothing but means everything.

Doncaster asks our directors to ensure that education opportunities are fair and equal. That they are inclusive and accessible. To create schemes that allow our children access to culture, science and the world for free. The children of the south experience the stunning beauty of the national gallery and the immense knowledge of the natural history museum, we HAVE to offer our own children more than a walk into the town centre to look at old buildings or derelict spaces. We must celebrate our own culture whilst creating space to learn about others. We must raise a generation that isn’t set up for a culture shock when they leave the town. We must cultivate a kinder, community based society that is focused on relationship building and support. Create a culture shift at a foundation level. Once we have that, we can begin to feel hope again, feel pride. We can feel safe. 

Parallel State offered us the opportunity to change Doncaster. To rebuild it in our imagination and allow it to undergo a metamorphosis. Overwhelmingly we declined the chance to do so. Aside from the obvious “little bit warmer” or “a bit closer to the seaside” we maintain steadfastly that Doncaster would simply not be Doncaster if we changed it. There is absolutely no doubt that this place, this home, the town is full of love, of acceptance and understanding for what it is. What it represents.

So we agree that we must keep the town true to itself. We want it to be cleaner and sometimes safer. But never different, never somewhere else. Always Donny.

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