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BriXmas #bonus is coming!

BriXmas

It’s beginning to look like…

 

…you can win B£250 this BriXmas!

 

Our November #brixtonbonus gives everyone a chance to win a load of cash, which you can spend during Small Business Saturday, 6th December 2014. Plenty of Brixton independent businesses will be in their full Xmas swing by then, and with B£250, you can get stuff for all your loved ones (look out for our gift guides, coming soon!), and treat yourself, too! Over 250 businesses accept B£s: cafes, bars, restaurants, delis, gift shops, boutiques – and many will be offering special Xmas items and deals.

Sounds great, doesn’t it! Here’s all you have to do: get as many of your friends, colleagues, neighbours, family members – whoever, really! – signed up for a free pay-by-text B£ account. The person who gets the most sign ups WINS, and gets to be the Queen/King/Royal Person of Brixton for a day.

Competition closes at 10am on 1st December, so get talking to your friends NOW! Send us an email each time one of your people signs up, we’ll keep a count of the sign ups and announce a winner at 5pm on Monday 1st December. Good luck!

 

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#YourPound: Meet the Trader – Brixton Brewery

Brixton Brewery

Brixton Brewery launched in August last year, after years of careful planning. It occupies two railway arches on Brixton Station Road – one for storage, the other where all the brewing, bottling, labelling takes place and which opens on Saturdays to serve the Brixton public.

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BB co-founder Jez invites us over, but warns to dress warmly because the units are rather cold on weekdays. We end up sitting in his car, where he tells the Brixton Brewery story:

“I moved to Brixton in 2006 when I bought a flat on Saltoun Road, where the Black Cultural Archives are on the corner. Mike, the co-founder, also bought a flat across the road around the same time. It took a couple of years before we met, because in London people don’t talk to each other, you don’t generally know your neighbours. Then we both had kids at the same time, and my wife and Mike’s girlfriend got talking. That’s how we became friends. Then one day we were having a drink in Hive Bar, now The Craft Beer Co., and got the idea to start our own brewery. We had no idea about brewing! But we knew Brixton and thought it deserved its own.

We started home brewing in Mike’s kitchen. We bought the books and brewed the early versions of our beers. But we had young families to support, so couldn’t just give up our jobs. So we sent Mike’s girlfriend on a 3 day course to Sunderland to learn how to brew, and naively thought she could do all the brewing for us. Only afterwards did we realise we needed someone who had more time and more than a few days’ experience, and so we found Dominic, who’s now our Head Brewer. He was a fresh graduate from a brewing masters course, had some experience working in breweries, and above all, agreed to work for one which didn’t even exist yet.

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It was important for us to be in the heart of Brixton, and we wanted our customers to be predominantly local businesses, so we were very happy we found the railway arch. We went round talking to traders and got started. But we were essentially opening a factory, so it was a bit daunting. The Brixton Pound actually helped us a lot – around that time you ran a workshop on how to start a food business, with Ms Cupcake, Ossie, Liam from 7 @ Brixton, and Anne from Cornercopia. It was great to meet people who had had an idea and made it successful, and learn how to deal with permissions and red tape.

We had two launch parties in October last year – one actually at Craft Beer Co., where it all started in 2011. I made a little speech. Then we held a party at the arch, and at 5pm we ran out of draught beer! We knew then that we were doing something right.

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We started off with three beers: Reliance Pale Ale, Effra Ale, Electric IPA, and now have two more Brixton-inspired ones: Windrush Stout and Atlantic APA. We also make a Mexican-inspired beer for DF / Mexico, a restaurant in East London, whose owners now opened Brixton Wahaca, and it is also served there. It’s called Lupulo – it’s the Spanish word for hops.

Visiting Brixton Brewery

A video posted by Brixton Pound (@brixtonpound) on

But it was Brixtonites who supported us from day one, businesses and customers alike. They had faith in us, and they are still supporting us. Our first ever delivery was to Market Row Wines: Dave is a smart guy and ordered 15 crates straight away, knowing they would sell quickly, we just prayed they would!

We’re located very centrally in Brixton and that’s great – we do most of our deliveries with a simple trolley. Beer tastes so much better when it’s fresh – just like other things, bread, fruit and vegetables.. And the traders can tell the customers they are drinking a beer that’s been brewed only a couple hundred meters away – it’s a rarity.

The business still runs like a proper family business and everybody lends a hand – we have to do more with less. My wife is doing orders and deliveries, Mike’s partner social media and the website.

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On Friday we brewed for the 100th time – it’s a big milestone for any brewery! And it’s a special edition one – a double IPA. It will be stronger and hoppier and more bitter – we’re calling it MegaWatt IIPA, and will be launching it at our Xmas party on 13th December with a special bottle and label – we want people to take the bottle home and keep as a souvenir. It is inspired by the spiritual candles you see in the market – our designer and I just bought three this morning to serve as inspiration. All our labels are inspired by Brixton: local landmarks and African fabric prints. I feel inspired and motivated by Brixton. It has always been at the forefront of the local independent business movement. For us, everything just came together. I’m not particularly religious, but it was like all the signs were pointing at this, calling us towards it, “come on guys, you’ve got to do it!” And we made the right judgement. The reaction we’ve had has been great, we quickly got recognised in Brixton but also in London. We’re starting to supply outside of Brixton, mainly to other areas of South London, but we’re not producing a huge amount, and I like the idea of a regional, local brewery. It’s a great feeling going around the market and seeing people drinking our beers – every time I scratch my head and think, they must actually like it!”

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Black History Month #BHM2014

Black History Month Everyday of the Year

October has been Black History Month in the UK since 1987. We’re tempted to say that in Brixton, every month is Black History Month, and the place which is the constant proof for that is a great and unique institution: Black Cultural Archives, 1 Windrush Square.

The heritage centre opened in July 2014, after 33 years of organising by a group of black artists, activists, and teachers, who met during the uprisings of 1981 and decided to “create an archive that commemorated and educated people on the forgotten history of black people in Britain and offset the violence with understanding and education.” (Hannah Ellis-Petersen, ‘Black Cultural Archives unveils new centre in Brixton,’ 29 July 2014)

Dame Jocelyn Barrow, one of the founding members of the BCA and the first black woman governor of the BBC:

“[N]one of the museums or archives really reflected the lives of our community and of African and Caribbean people in this country. So one of the important things was to have an archive that reflects the African and Caribbean presence in this country, for the native population and for the children of African and Caribbean parents to understand why we are here, what brought us here and what are our struggles and achievements. It’s important there is a repository of those achievements. It’s taken years of hard work, struggle and constant pleading to people to get this on the mainstream agenda.”

BCA director Paul Reid:

“I personally believe that history and heritage has a functional role to play in addressing [inequalities and disparities]. It has a functional role to play in how people see themselves. (…) It’s in the oral history testimonies, it’s in the oral tradition, its in art, it’s in sculpture it’s in music. It’s always been there in culture, but it’s also in the records offices, it’s in the cemeteries, it’s in the hard documented evidence. So we want to combine those kinds of tangible and intangible heritage and start to tell fascinating stories through this archive, and I believe if we do that we actually do put something out there to get people to re-think who we are and who we feel we are.”

Dr Hakim Adi, a historian and trustee of the BCA:

“It shows black history is mainstream and is important in telling the story of Britain over the past 2,000 years.”

Re-imagine: Black Women in Britain

The first exhibition at the archive, Re-imagine: Black Women in Britain, explores narratives of Black women throughout history. It runs until 30 November. Admission is free, and the exhibition is accompanied by a multitude of talks and workshops, all well worth checking out.

 

Brixton Pound is proud to feature BCA’s founder, Len Garrison, on the B£1 paper note:

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LENFORD (KWESI) GARRISON (1943-2003), Academic, community activist and co-founder of the Black Cultural Archives. Len’s life’s work was to catalogue the development of the black British identity and its history. Len co-founded the BCA in the heart of Brixton Market, Coldharbour Lane in 1981.

It was you, Brixton people, who voted for the Heroes and Sheroes that feature on paper Brixton Pounds, and on both the first and second edition notes, a number of Black Brixtonites are represented. We felt it was a big deal, and it constantly reminds us of the importance of history and representation.

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On the B£5 is Luol Deng (born 1985), professional basketball player for the GB national basketball team and the NBA’s Chicago Bulls (now Miami Heat). Born in what is now South Sudan, Deng emigrated as a child and moved with his family to Brixton. There he joined England’s 15-and –under basketball team at Brixton Basketball Club marking the beginning of his basketball career.

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On the first edition B£1 is Olive Morris, a radical political activist and community organiser who established the Brixton Black Women’s Group, and played a pivotal role in the squatters’ rights campaigns of the 1970s. Olive was born in Jamaica in 1952 and moved with her family to Britain aged 9. She was a Brixton resident from 1961-1975 and died at the age of 27 from cancer.

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On the first edition B£10 is C. L. R. James, the Trinidadian journalist, historian, socialist thinker and anti-colonialist who chose to spend his final years on the ‘front line’ of Brixton.

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