Margaret Greenfields started out life as London born child of socialist, politically active parents of mixed European ancestry. After deciding that she wasn’t going to do the ‘expected thing’ and head to university at 18 she took to festivals and was ‘on the road’ for some years in the late 70s-mid 80s, undertaking a range of jobs from fruit and vegetable picking, working in festival cafes, to busking, interspersed with odd periods in London jobs, working in community centres, wholefood shops and a squat-socialist/anarchist bookshop in Islington.
She very soon fell in a great bunch of people at Festival Welfare Services (see Alan Dearling and friends’ ‘Travelling Daze’ (2013) book), and began working/living with a team of like-minded practical, creative somewhat anarchic types spending about 10 months of every year at mainly free festivals providing basic medical/festival type community care, liaison with police over evictions, dealt with everything from lost kids to drugs overdoses and with the FWS team worked through the aftermath of the Stonehenge evictions and related events providing practical support to people who had lost everything or were highly traumatised. She also acted as a para-legal supporting the lawyers on those cases. Out of Festival Welfare Services (and involving many of the same people) grew the Travellers Aid Trust, Festival Eye and other off-shoots some of which Margaret is still involved in loosely.
As a result of the Free Festival/Stonehenge experiences and feeling that she had gained a better understanding of legal processes and what it meant to travel than most of the lawyers working on associated eviction/Beanfield cases Margaret eventually went to SOAS (in the late 80s) and ultimately became a community lawyer, heavily involved in gender issues, community housing/co-op and squatting circles in North London and eventually a policy specialist in similar fields. She still works closely with Gypsies, Travellers (and now Roma communities) on accommodation, site and health issues as well as being involved with refugee and asylum seeking projects.
Margaret is mainly involved in the academic scene now, after jumping ship to run a ‘diversity institute’ (IDRICS) but has a large and varied network of friends, colleagues, contacts as well as keeping in touch with the ‘usual suspects’ involved in music, arts, politicised LGBT activities etc. She is an active member of a renowned left-wing synagogue with a very arts-and politically focused membership whose out lesbian Marxist Rabbi could be found during the London occupy movement holding Friday night services on the steps of St. Paul’s Cathedral. Margaret believes profoundly in the principles of Paolo Freire and Gramsci and is committed to the notion that ‘knowledge is power’ and that knowledge and skills for policy, research and political action are best concentrated in the hands of those most at risk of being affected by the misuse of power.