TCRN writer Damon Shaw takes a look at the Exodus Collective of the UK and the power of leading by example.

As you know we are all at our own level of self-awareness as we continue to develop a greater understanding of the world and those who inhabit it. We’ve become corrupt through the teachings we have encountered throughout our lives; some more than others, but the struggle only becomes a struggle when the mind perceives it to be one.

With that said, we may need a little ‘pick me up’ from time to time, something to help realign ourselves with why we ever began this journey, to remind ourselves that individuals from all backgrounds can make a significant change. We each have the potential to plant seeds throughout our own community and other communities as the butterfly effect takes hold. Leading by example has never become so relevant as it is today.

The following is an extract from Mixmag, a magazine centralised around dance music and club culture. This specific extract from the 90’s article focuses on Luton’s Exodus Collective, a UK-based free party sound system whose minds were set upon creating better environments and opportunities for other Lutonians. And of course, where there’s a collective providing insight to the potential of ‘people power’, there may be opposing interests willing to tar that potential with a dirty brush. I will also be linking the ‘Exodus Movement of Jah People’ documentary which provides personal accounts of the unjust treatment the collective faced.

“Exodus is more than just a free party sound system – it’s a housing co-op, a city farm, a ray of light in the concrete no-man’s land of Luton. They’ve survived four police operations against them and are currently battling a murder charge, an arson attack and a tractor assault on their rave lorry. This isn’t just about dancing, it’s about an alternative way of life.

There is an army of sound systems in Britain and their free party ethic makes them increasingly popular with ravers and clubbers alienated by superclubs and corporate house music. There’s people like Black Moon, convicted for their part in last year’s aborted Mother rave. There’s Scotland’s Desert Storm, who take the free party ethic to war-torn Bosnia. And then, in Luton, there’s Exodus – who have taken the whole free party ethic that much further. Exodus have taken DIY party culture to its logical extreme. Their largest free rave attracted 10,000 people in their home town of Luton and they bear a regular crowd of about 2,000. They pour all their profits into renovating derelict property for the homeless.

Exodus live in a once-derelict nursing home, HAZ Manor, which they’ve converted into accommodation for 30 people. There’s ex-soldiers, reformed criminals, naval ratings and former Tesco’s staff. They’ve all turned their back on 9 to 5 society, mortgages and competition to live together on a communal basis. Their housing benefits goes straight into the upkeep of the Manor. But it’s been a long, hard struggle and the last year has seen Exodus with their backs up against the wall.

For a start they’ve had trouble with the police for years – to the point that Bedfordshire County Council even voted for a full independent inquiry into police actions, and the actions of two local Tory MPs. One of the key Exodus members, Biggs, has been charged with murder. The house he was staying in was also firebombed one afternoon, leaving it a burnt-out wreck.

Four Exodus members are banned from organising or attending raves. Nearly every collective member has been arrested on warrants for minor charges: one 18 year old, alleged to have stolen a sandwich, had 30 officers and a police helicopter sent after him. At their first rave of 1996, a farmer drove his tractor straight into one of their lorries, leaving diesel spilling everywhere. It was a potentially disastrous situation but luckily, no one was hurt. And still they partied for the next eleven hours.”

Exodus Movement of Jah People:

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