small park BIG RUN is NOT a race!

One of the small park BIG RUN organisers ran in a fabulous fell race on Tuesday evening. It was exceptionally well organised, technical, friendly and fast! What struck him, once he got his breath back, was that as well as some notable similarities to our own event there were some very marked differences, well worth a little muse on. Read on to discover some of those musings.

The Burbage Skyline fell race is ten rugged kms in a figure of eight of rough tracks, paths, rocks, bogs, hills and even a couple of small river crossings around the top of the hills ringing the beautiful Burbage Valley. The pace is fast and even if it wasn’t in the plan, this runner couldn’t help but try to keep up with the others!

Despite turning myself inside out with effort I didn’t feature in the top half of the results! No shame there, there are some seriously impressive runners and the winning time would have been very impressive had it been around a flat track.

But it was illuminating that the way I measured my success was against others; every time I overtook someone, there was a small twinge of satisfaction and likewise when I was overtaken, something I had to get quite used to on the first hill, I was a tiny bit peed off!

Now, everyone who ran the race will have different motivations and targets – and no criticism is intended when I say that in the main I felt this was a very competitive race. It felt notably different to our own run/walk/hop/skip and juggle of an event!

In contrast to being a race, I think the small park BIG RUN is better viewed as a challenge. And though you can measure yourself and your effort – it is more with yourself and not against others that you take that measurement. The targets are personal. For some one lap is the goal and the achievement is high. In 2022 my dearly departed Dad, contending with dementia managed a lap, only months before he passed away.

The race’s great and much missed friend Graham Birkin (pictured here) did his lap in very poor health but walking with the loving aid of friends and family – no small achievement.

Others like Nick, Maggie, Davor, Cécile and others have done gargantuan efforts of up to 24 hours. One runner completed 155 laps but was still slightly regretful they hadn’t made it to the magic 100 miles!!! And to this end, they are coming back this year to try again.

Some set themselves a marathon, half marathon or laps target. Others challenge themselves not with numerical targets but with group plans like teams of runners filling hourly slots to fill up the whole day, or individuals doing one lap every hour for 24 hours, others just running the hours of darkness. Some arrive at 4am to greet the sun and some to reclaim their park. Some have hidden challenges that make it difficult to even make it to the park. For a refugee the bus fare could be the challenge. And others do it to raise money for the charities we support.

Many simply walk around the circuit with their friends and family, satisfied in the knowledge they are celebrating freedom of movement, waving flags and showing friendship and solidarity with Palestinians.

And some simply eat cake and drink tea – which is in its own right a wonderful thing to do!

All challenges, all different, all personal but all on the same course with lots of different people in a spirit of friendship.

What everyone has in common is that they are there – in the park, in the same place. A joint and joyous effort that affirms community spirit, friendliness, companionship and solidarity. All power to you!

small park BIG RUN is – in case you haven’t heard – on the weekend of 22/23 June.

You can sign up here. https://www.sientries.co.uk/event.php?event_id=12867

Please donate here: https://spbr.org.uk/index.php/raising-money-from-your-run/

Buy a t-shirt, mug or buff here: https://spbr.org.uk/index.php/spbr-merchandise-for-2024/

Our speakers from Palestine in 2024: Land and Food – before and now

We very really pleased to bring you a great programme in the Palestinian Voices Tent at small park BIG RUN 2024. Focusing on our theme of land and food, each speaker will bring fresh perspectives, their expertise and experience. We will be finishing with a discussion about the Israeli-made famine in Gaza.

The programme starts with a short film, On Our Land, a thoughtful and beautiful tribute to the older ways and elder people as the next generation learns more about, and tries to preserve the continuity of, the Palestinian heritage in land.

This will be followed by a zoom call with Fuad Abu Seif, who is a champion of food sovereignty and the director of Union of Agriculture Works Committees in the West Bank. Unfortunately he was not able to get a visa but will still be participating via a live video link.

Taysir Arbasi, coordinator for organic fine food retailer of Palestinian goods Zaytoun follows. Living in the West Bank Taysir is an expert on fair trade and organic conversions having built the the co-operative of Palestinian farmers that produces goods for wholesaler Zaytoun. Zaytoun will re running a stall at the small park BIG RUN with organic goods for sale

Our last travelling speaker from Palestine is Morgan Cooper , who will be telling us about heritage agriculture, and the steps she is taking to preserve the methods – some flavour of which we will have seen in the film.

Short biographies of each speaker are after the Palestine Voices Tent schedule below.

WhoTitleDay / Time
Short filmOn our Land (Film)Saturday 12.45-1.15
Fuad Abu Saif (via zoom)The reality of Food Sovereignty amidst the Israeli genocide war in PalestineSaturday 1.30 – 2.15
Taysir AbassiFair trade and farming for export under occupationSaturday 2.30 – 3.15
Morgan CooperTraditional agriculture under occupationSaturday 3.30 – 4.15
Sahar and MusheirGaza and famine and what we can doSaturday 4.30 – 5.15
Jawad and RubaControl of land and movement in the West Bank. (Jawad and Ruba will serve a Palestinian breakfast during the discussion)Sunday 10.00 – 11.00

Fuad Abu Seif

We are very honoured to welcome Fuad Abu Seif, the Director of the Union of Agricultural Work Committees. He is a Palestinian activist with expertise in agricultural, environmental and social activism. He dedicates himself to improving the lives of Palestinian farmers. Through social development initiatives, he fights poverty through projects that empower farmers and promote sustainable practices.

Fuad is a strong advocate for fair trade, he fights for Palestinian farmers to access markets and receive just compensation. Beyond agriculture, Fuad Abu Seif champions human rights, particularly for those facing the challenges of occupation. His leadership extends beyond the UAWC, with membership in various local and international alliances and boards.

Fuad is a frequent speaker at conferences and workshops, he shares his knowledge on agriculture, environment, and human rights. His voice is also heard in Palestinian and international media. His dedication has resulted in numerous agricultural development projects that uplifted thousands of Palestinian farmers. His advocacy for fair trade has improved their livelihoods and market access. He actively promotes environmental protection through projects focused on water conservation and sustainable land use.

Fuad stands as a respected activist , a powerful voice for sustainable agriculture, environmental protection, and human rights in Palestine. He will be addressing us via a Zoom link as the difficulties of obtaining a travel Visa were sadly insurmountable.

Taysir Abassi

Taysir Arbasi is a member of Zaytoun CIC, based in Palestine,

He has been working with farming communities for 20 years, advocating for fair trade and helping farmers evolve their methods so as to produce quality food.

He is the main liaison in the West Bank on behalf of Zaytoun UK.

A selection of Zaytoun’s organics produce will be available for sale at small park BIG RUN.

Morgan Cooper

Morgan is a US citizen living in occupied Palestine with her Christian Palestinian husband and two kids.  She is an ex chef and now frequent and passionate instagrammer showing the impact of occupation on Palestinian life. They have some land , in Area C , fully Israeli-controlled and only contiguous territory in the West Bank, on which they try to ensure they maintain traditional farming methods and heritage trees, crops and plants. Morgan started handmadepalestine.com in order to support traditional crafts and will be bringing some of their products across to sell at small park BIG RUN.

Sahar and Musheir

Sahar and Musheir are residents of Sheffield but both born have lived in Gaza.

Sahar has been a powerful voice for Palestinian people since the genocide started and established a camp outside the Town Hall in January 2024. She is a doctor in Rotherham and has worked to highlight the deliberate destruction of healthcare at the hands of the Israeli army.

Musheir while trapped in Khan Yunnis points out the damage to a neighbour’s house

Musheir is from Khan Younis in Gaza. He was trapped in Gaza for six traumatic weeks with his eldest son, Qassim, after October 7.

He has been chair of Sheffield Palestine Solidarity Campaign for many years, written a powerful book about Operation Cast Lead which is dedicated to the testimony of Palestinian people who experienced the onslaught and has made a number of films about life in Gaza, most recently about fishermen and fisherwomen, all of whom have since lost their livelihoods.

Jawad and Ruba

Jawad is the son of a Palestinian – Hassan Qasrawi from the village of Awarta in the Northern West Bank. Much of his extended family remain in Palestine, but many have moved away as a part of the Palestinian Diaspora – now separated from their homeland for three generations. Living in Sheffield and brought up in the UK he is, like his father before him was, exiled from Palestine with no right of residence.

Ruba is a Palestinian from Nablus and is the cousin of Jawad. She lives and works in Sheffield – separated from her family in Nablus and Ramallah. She is in daily contact with home and will give an account of the extreme problems Palestinians are facing since the Israeli revenge operations in Gaza and the West Bank.

Can you sign up to marshal?

Even if you are signed up to run, maybe you can help us keep this event going by signing up to marshal as well? Marshals are essential to keep help keep the course safe and encourage runners. We have a fantastic programme of events this year, some of which will need additional marshals.

We are looking for more for our solidarity supper, for the children as they march up the hill to hand the lanterns early evening, and a bit later for the torch of remembrance procession the BIG SING on Sunday, and also to help monitor the crossing to our solidarity camp.

You can see more on programme page. Sign up to be a marshal here

Ecocide in Gaza

The theme at small park BIG RUN is land and food. Here is a summary from a couple of sources and links to more information. They highlight that, beyond the immediate terror of starvation, and after the bombs have stopped, there is little left of the land for people to go back to when the bombing does eventually stop and little chance to grow food.

“There is nothing i can recognise here”, says Abu Saffiyeh, a Palestinian farmer from Gaza. “No traces of life”.

Lucia Rebolino, co-author of a study of the destroyed landscape by Forensic Architecture , considers this to be Israeli policy – a deliberate obliteration of life.

Abu Saffiyeh’s land before the war started in 2023 in East Jabbaliah

“In northern Gaza, two-thirds of the land was agricultural – now there’s nothing left,” says Samar Safiya, a Gazan environmental activist.

Her voice notes, summarised in The New Arab, paint a bleak picture of the situation on the ground. “More than 80,000 tons of Israeli bombs have spared neither fields, olive trees nor lemon trees. This environmental destruction accompanies the massacres and genocide,” she says.

Help us make provide support and solidarity to people in Gaza so they can recover and rebuild. Enter small park BIG RUN here

A farmer under occupation

Awad Melhim, a Palestinian farmer, talks about climate change the occupation and his love for the land. He is part of the cooperative of farmers whose produce is marketed and imported by Zaytoun, whose West Bank coordinator, Taysir Abassi will be speaking at smnall park BIG RUN in the Palestine Voices Tent on June 22nd.

Your efforts at #spBR2024 will help the children play!

The past months in Gaza have been terrible. A child’s experience will be to have seen rampant and incessant killing, constant noise of drones buzzing and bombs exploding, the screams of people in mourning or of the injured and a terrifying sense of jeopardy.

In spite of this, children will come out to play and laugh. We have had incredible short videos from the ruins in Gaza City where some of the team working with Sheffield PSC Emergency Relief Fund have organised some clowning about!

The first session took place in the middle of the devastation in Al Shijaiya east of Gaza city. This work before October 2023 was through “Qayis Centre for Psychological and Community Support” .

With your help at small park BIG RUN, work will be extended further north and in Rafah and Khan Younis .

#spBR2024 – Katelyn’s marathon for the BIG SING

So, we are not quite up and running for 2024 yet but we have a date: 22nd June and 23rd June. Please save it. And we have a theme: Land and Food, which we mention briefly, below.

Someone who is up and running right here right now is longtime supporter and co-organiser, Katelyn.

Katelyn was so keen to enter the 2024 Palestine Marathon she got number 7. But the Palestine Marathon has been postponed, so she is pounding our Sheffield concrete and will run a solidarity marathon on March 2nd, raising money to contribute to this year’s BIG SING for Palestine: please help her smash her target of £1500.

(see last year’s BIG SING below – hanky required)

Land and food

This year, as the land is being pounded, buildings destroyed, people crushed and dispersed and civil society crumbling, it seems looking hard at land justice and food sovereignty is essential.

How can Palestinians protect their food system from field to fork; and generate economic benefits through food exports? Today it seems further away than ever. In Gaza which is overrun by the IDF and in the West Bank which is under constant attack from settlers, the challenges are massive.

We hope to have representatives from Via Campesina and other experts in Palestinian food to guide us through the issues. And we will have a community meal in the park on Saturday evening. Details to come soon!