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16 October 2014

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Revolutions

By Shan Ashton
January 2007, Capel Curig
A digital story from Capture Wales

Shan the Revolutionary

Shan embraces new learning from seeing the effects of the Nicaraguan Revolution.

"When I was fourteen I was able to strip and re-assemble a bren gun, blindfolded. I'd be really useful when the revolution finally arrived. What form that would take was largely in my mind, fed by an imaginative childhood filled with stories of fighting - wars, for the underdog, for your space in life.

Dadcu fought in the First World War but never spoke of it, just said never trust the ruling classes, ever! My uncles rode with the home guard over the hills of central Wales, armed to the teeth ready for the fight. Dad never got over missing the Second World War, so joined the Palestine Police and later brought us up as his own private army. The women of our family were always stoical. I became very earnest.

Everyday life took over for a while - marriage, children, divorce, single motherhood and college, late in life. Here all could be found and explained in a book. I embraced Marxism and feminism and, hedging my bets, ran the only Marxist-feminist Sunday school in Wales.

A chance meeting took me to Nicaragua - they'd had a revolution and I couldn't wait to see it, feel it, touch it at last!

Here I met real revolutionaries and found that, ultimately, revolution means learning. The people were building schools and universities... not distant acadamies on hills but community places for all. People worked together, learning as they went along, the enjoyment was palpable.

Back home, I eagerly turned my work upside down and inside out. The learning I am now a part of is engaged, collaborative, political and cheeky.

The best revolutionaries have fun, what's the point if there's no joy?"

Shan Ashton

Please tell us a little about yourself.
Lecturer, researcher, activist in community development, rural development and women's lives. Two lovely daughters and a view from the front window to die for!

What's your story about?
About discovering the importance of peace and learning and laughter.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
It wasn't so much a choice as the story seeping up from the deep sub-conscious!

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
Apart from all the lovely people, learning not to be afraid of my stories and writing them.

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