Brighton Residents Take to the Streets
by David Burke

"Go home already!" I called out to one group of people who had strung fairy lights out of their windows. "Watch television for Godís sake". But they werenít budging. Two children were curled up on blankets and pillows, asleep on the pavement while the grown ups refilled their wine glasses.

This summer White Dot, the anti-television campaign, ran what we called a Zocalo in Brighton. Itís the Mexican word for town square, and we deliberately set out to imitate the way people in warm countries make use of theirs. People of all ages gather in parks at night, without any particular reason to celebrate or entertainment to watch - just each otherís company.

With help from the local community association, City Cllr Georgia Wrighton of the Green Party and a small group of willing volunteers, we postered and leafleted the neighbourhood of Hanover, asking people to turn off their TVs for an evening, put chairs outside their doors and enjoy the evening together.

The weather was perfect and response was good. The streets werenít heaving with people, but most had clumps of 10 to 20, some on the front step and some in chairs with food. One family put an entire sofa outside their door. Most people seemed to enjoy the idea of extending their homes into the street. Children were especially excited to be outside with grown-ups. Many residents were interviewed by Turner Prize winner Grayson Perry, who was doing a documentary about the politics of leisure time for Channel Four television. The full camera crew wandering around added to the unusual atmosphere, even if it diluted the anti-television message.

Many residents expressed a desire to run another Zocalo. We held another the next month and got another good turnout. We will keep experimenting with this form of direct action ("All out with the viewers!") and if you would like to hold your own zocalo next year, get in touch.