In conversation YAH Vinnie


Vinnie (In Person. York, Yorkshire and the Humber).

Vinnie tells me about Zoo Skate Park, austerity, and his activism as a musician.


JO: I’m stood with Vinnie. I was just … you just caught me taking a picture or struggling to take a picture of quite a nice mural.

VW: Yes, the artwork on the wall there.

JO: … at the side of …

VW: Zoo Skate Park, in York

JO: Zoo Skate Park. And you’re going to take over …

VW: Yes. Basically, it’s volunteer run at the moment. It’s like a community centre and hopefully in 2018, we’re looking at setting up as a social enterprise and going to be running the park and extending the opening hours.

JO: You mentioned how it used to be funded …

VW: It did used to be council funded. It’s still owned by the council but with government cutbacks, austerity, and that sort of thing, unfortunately the funding was dropped about 4 years ago, so it’s been completely volunteer run since.

JO: So, people took up the baton and kept it going.

V: Yes … kept it going.

JO: Who uses it mainly?

V: On Monday nights, it’s rollerblades; Tuesdays and Thursdays, it’s skateboards; Fridays is scooters and BMX; and Saturdays is scooters and skateboards.

JO: I’m guessing it’s not the silver surfers.

V: No.

JO: Is it youth?

V: It is youth, yes.

JO: … giving them something to do … somewhere to go …

V: yes, it’s like a community centre …. inside the cabin, they have youth projects like the outreach York projects to get kids off the streets

JO: it’s a big problem in this country … we really don’t do anything, I think, for youngsters at all …

V: yes. So, it’s a nice place for people to come and hang out …

JO: Do you get people from all over the town .. city, I should say?

V: Yes. All over the city. I know personally because I volunteer to run the roller blade evenings because I am a rollerblader that we get people travel from all over Yorkshire to come and rollerblade on a Monday night here. So …

J: cool.

V: I imagine that the skateboarders and stuff travel as well. It’s a small park but it is quite a nice park.

J: quality! Quality not quantity.

V: Exactly, yes.

J: Cool. Well, I’ll tell you about my project and if you like, I’ll give you my email address …

V: yes, excellent …

J: and you can be in touch. Because what I’m doing is I’m meeting … I’m going around the country … although I’ve got my own view … I will allow it to be moved by people that I meet, yes? So, I am not sort of fixed but I’m arguing that we’re in, as a people, and as a species really, we’re in ‘extreme danger’ to use the words of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists because of the way we are living …

V: yes.

J: So, what are we playing at?

V: yes. Exactly, yes.

J: And what do we need to do? So, I’m trying to work out what my own feeling is based on the all the arguments I’ve seen and I’m sort of a mixture of a writer, a researcher, and a teacher so over 15 years, including living as a citizen – and not having a terribly great time, I must say – I kind of feel like if anyone is a bit unsure where to look or where to start, I can provide …

V: yes

J: a really useful illustrated guide to all the best stuff that’s out there …

V: excellent, yes.

J: A web based thing – free to use. And then it will branch off maybe to … for each .. as a podcast series, each podcast will be for a region, so the Yorkshire and the Humber region might have a little, mini directory underneath it, with all the things that get mentioned … and other interesting …

V: excellent

J: and you might be one of those if that’s alright …

V: yes, that would be great.

J: … but I’m also … so for each region, hopefully I’m talking to experts, some activists who are doing something – they’re all doing different things in different places … because I wonder whether we need to coordinate a bit more than we are at the moment

V: yes

J: and then others … so you’re in others …

V: well …

J: but maybe you’re an activist?

V: I’m also part of the – I’ve not got my wristband on – part of the We Shall Overcome music movement … which is like …

J: you’re an activist then, yes

V: anti-austerity ..

J: yes, an activist

V: movement … and a week on Sunday … my professional job, I’m a full time musician and I run music events in York … and a week on Sunday, we’re doing a We Shall Overcome event at the Red Lion on Merchant Gate in York

J: brilliant

V: we’re going to be …

J: that’s a famous anthem, yes?

V: yes, exactly.

J: for ..what would you say, for the left? Is that a word you’d still use?

V: I’d pretty much say so, yes. Yes. And we’re doing a fundraiser for Carecent York, which provides food and clothing … it’s like York’s foodbank for the homeless. So, you know .. we’ll be … you know … there shouldn’t need to be foodbanks …we should live in a place where people …

J: let’s repeat that again …

V: there should be no need for foodbanks in this country but yet here we are as musicians doing fundraising to raise money for foodbanks that don’t have enough food to feed people that can’t afford to be fed.

J: it’s just ridiculous. It’s unacceptable.

V: it’s a ridiculous situation and it’s unacceptable. Yes, so a week on Sunday at the Red Lion, we’ll be doing a fundraiser where people … it’s a music event … live music .. open mic, and people can bring donations for Carecent in York.

J: brilliant. I’m very glad I caught you.

V: yes, it’s been excellent. Just a chance meeting.