Edward David (ED) Berman


Born 1941 in Lewiston, Maine, in the United States. Lives and works in London and became a dual national UK/USA in 1976. He received an MBE from Queen Elizabeth in 1978. Founder and CEO of the Inter-Action group of charities and Fab Foundation UK.

00:00: Start. 03:51: President of a national youth organisation giving speeches around the country. 06:24: Back in Harvard, learning about Ghandi, and late night talking. 09:11: Getting into community work, a game method for co-operation and creativity. 11:00: Move to England and studies at Oxford. 13:51: From university to community theatre in London, starting up Inter-Action. 18:00: Exploring community video, it’s all about focus! 21:23: Working as a cooperative and starting the first city farm in the UK. 22:59: Pioneering community arts and community media, break through at the Arts Council. 25:51: From publishing to the Instant Business Enterprise System (IBES). 27:26: Why Inter-Action changed from a cooperative to a social enterprise. 28:36: Credits (German translation: book Rebel Video, p. 53)

The Big Red Van


1974, producer: ED Berman, director: Clive Scollay, 18 mins, 16-mm film, color, excerpts (9 mins), original in the London Community Video Archive (LCVA).

Inter-Action Trust was described by the Council of Europe as “the most exciting community education/ arts organization in Europe” in the 1970s. Arguably, its most dynamic innovation was the Inter-Action Community Media Van. This large van was modified to show video from its side, back projection film viewed from the rear with a theater platform on the roof. It had a copying machine to produce instant leaflets and a sound system to announce its arrival and purposes. Perhaps its most unique feature was one of the first few radiotelephone systems in the UK, which was installed and used to ring mayors and council leaders/ officers for the gathered locals to put questions to the usually distant authorities. This was an experiment in doorstep democracy. Hundreds of volunteer organizations and community groups have made use of the Community Media Van. New methods for public participation were tested and developed. This film was transferred to video to promote similar creations for local democracy elsewhere.

The Amazing Story of Talacre


1971, producer: ED Berman, director: Paul Morrison, 32 mins, 16-mm film, color. Excerpts 15 mins / © Inter-Action 1974. Original in the London Community Video Archive (LCVA).

The film tracks the development of a derelict site left vacant for a decade by the Local Council in central London. It shows how the urban co-operative Inter-Action Trust challenged Camden Council and encouraged the Council tenants to form the Talacre Action Group (TAG). Inter-Action and TAG were running summer play schemes on the site. It involved creating a giant adventure playground (a Dinosaur Drama Scape), community barbeques, door-to-door leafleting, meetings, teaching local youth to make videos along with participatory theater visits, including a living newspaper, by Inter-Action’s street theater company Prof Dogg’s Troupe.

Voices from the neighborhood (Mother and Father)
M The children aren’t allowed to play in the flats, they are not allowed to ball game and not to run upstairs. It means they’ve got to play on their own.
F The caretakers won’t let them play ball, they can’t ride their bikes, they can’t do anything here. This are just organized prisons, that’s what they are—government prisons.

Voice-over commentary
Inter-Action is a national charity concerned with the development of creative play for children. We moved into this area to live three and a half years ago. This year we wanted to start a summer play programme, here in our own neighborhood: A program, that will be run by local people themselves. Inter-Action hope to prove to them and to the Local Council, that the community can and should manage its own local resources. As a first move, we formed the Talacre Action Group, which represents the nearby tenants associations. Together we set out to clear the Talacre Road site, a derelict site used for years as a rubbish dump. And we ran a play program on it for the six weeks holiday.