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‘Autonomy’ at Housmans

We were part of a successful and good-spirited event at Housmans bookshop in London last night. The occasion was the publication of our book Autonomy, and the posthumous collection of Colin Ward’s writings on ecological themes: Talking green. Someone from the shop had warned that Colin Ward – who died in 2010, after a very full life as architect, writer, editor, disseminator, doer – always brings the crowds in. The shop was packed out, with all seats taken, and people standing and sitting on the floor. As our introducer for the event remarked, this crowd, more than any crowd, ought to be able to self-organize the seating problem, and they did.

Ken Worpole speaking; then around the speakers’ table: Ross Bradshaw, Daniel Poyner, Richard Hollis. In the centre of the picture, with her back to the camera, is Harriet Ward.

The event was introduced by Ross Bradshaw of Five Leaves – who is now Colin Ward’s main publisher, and who works very much in the Wardian spirit of fair-minded and generous action. Ross has already written a report on his blog. From our side, we can say that it was good to make connections with the larger world of social and political discussion that Ward and Fives Leaves represent. The evening, though short, was full of the cross-connections and hyphenations for which we have always striven.

Ken Worpole – now a Five Leaves author too – spoke about Colin Ward’s environmental views (much more than just ‘recycling’) and his aesthetic sense. Then Harriet Ward remembered Colin, telling us about the Nachlass of his writings that could still be published. The designer Richard Hollis – whose publishing imprint is hosted by Five Leaves – spoke about the conditions of getting graphic design produced in the 1960s (the theme of his contribution to our book). Daniel Poyner then spoke about his journey into anarchism and towards the project that is now published as Autonomy . After contributions from the floor, Ross Bradshaw wrapped up the proceedings with some remarks about Ward’s anarchism. His quotation from Colin Ward’s book Anarchy in action can bear repeating once more: ‘Anarchism in all its guises is an assertion of human dignity and responsibility. It is not a programme for political change but an act of social self-determination.’