Commonweal couldn’t run without the input of its capable trustees, so we thought we’d introduce you to some of them!
First up is Ellie Clement. Ellie has been a trustee since 2005. In her day job, she is the Management and Law Librarian at the University of Bradford’s Management Library. She is also a parent and an activist.
When did you first get involved with Commonweal?
I became aware of Commonweal in 1998/1999. I was doing my librarian qualification in Loughborough, and my partner at the time was studying Peace Studies at Bradford. So I visited it when visiting him.
Around the same time I was very interested in ‘infoshops’ – small, pop-up activist resources arising from the anti-globalisation movement, a kind of hybrid of late print, early internet.
I thought Commonweal was a great resource, too – it had been established longer but it was another activist-related alternative information source. When I moved back to Yorkshire and settled in Bradford I started getting involved, and I joined the Workgroup in 2001.
What’s your involvement with Commonweal now?
As well as being a trustee, this year I’ve line-managed our new part-time Social Media and Web Project Co-ordinator. I’ve also been secretary for around five years since Brenda Thomson retired from that role after decades of service!
Until 2015 I was the Peace, Development and Economics Librarian at Bradford University’s JB Priestley Library. As you might imagine, this fitted really well with being a Commonweal trustee! And although I’ve changed roles, I still keep up my Commonweal work.
What else do you fit into your days?
I’m a parent of two, I run (very slowly), and I sing with the Commoners Choir (‘We sing our own songs, about the world immediately around us, about inequality, hope, and Tory politicians’).
I’ve always been involved in social justice campaigns, and because I’m a librarian Commonweal was a natural fit! I’m passionate about the importance of information for social change.
In the past I’ve been involved with the anarchist library at the 1 in 12 Club in Bradford, and I helped to set up the Radical Librarians Collective, which is a group for library workers to meet and discuss professional issues relating to politics and social justice.
What’s your favourite thing about Commonweal?
There are so many fantastic links spreading out from Commonweal – the first that springs to mind is the original drawings of the nuclear disarmament symbol (commonly referred to as the CND symbol or peace sign), which is held in the Commonweal Archives.
The symbol was adopted by the Direct Action Committee (a forerunner to CND) for the Aldermaston March in 1958 at a meeting that Michael Randle, another of our trustees, was present at.
Secondly, there is a statue in the Collection by the late artist Chris Hoggett, brother of Commonweal’s founder, David Hoggett. Chris’s son Matthew, who volunteered at the Collection when it was still in Cheltenham in the ’60s and ’70s, has recently been in touch with us and visited the Collection in Bradford.
The JB Priestley Library at the University of Bradford (where Commonweal is housed) is named after Bradford author JB Priestley, who, alongside his wife Jacquetta Hawkes, was a very active early member of CND. Commonweal, Bradford and peace are strongly interlinked!
What would you like to see happening at Commonweal in future?
I’m excited about some of Commonweal’s work being moved online in the form of a website and social media activity, which I think is what David Hoggett would be doing nowadays, rather than focusing on print, if he was starting up a resource with the same goal of supporting activists for nonviolent social change.
This new activity is helping Commonweal move into a new era, and not before time.
Interested in learning more about volunteering for Commonweal? Contact us!