Tag Archives: altcurrency

Brixton public art: Lucy Casson ‘Foxes and Cherries’

‘Foxes and Cherries’ by Lucy Casson  is a sculpture over Electric Avenue, Brixton. It is featured on the B£20 note. This is a guest blog post written by Lucy about what inspired her to make the piece of public art.

foxcherryaziz   B£20 square
Foxes and Cherries on Electric Avenue and as featured on the B£20 

Halfway along Electric Avenue ‘Foxes and Cherries’  is situated high up on a roof. I wanted to make something inspired by the fruit market – cherries are such wonderful fruit, and that year the cherry tree in my garden in Brixton had a bumper crop of cherries, so it had to be cherries; and for me the foxes that live among us represented the cheeky side of Brixton as they dive in and out of sight.

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‘Foxes and Cherries’ in the making

As well as making art works for public places I create smaller works for gallery exhibition.
I have created a world of ‘beings.’ They are cartoon like, part animal, part human. These characters become part of narratives and scenarios gleaned from observations of everyday accuracies, surreal encounters or imagined stories.

Tin Plate Beings
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Cherries                                           Fire                                                The Inspectors

animal looking  red ball and spoon
 Animal Looking                                                         Red Ball and Spoon

For the past two and a half years I have been the lead artist for the newly opened New Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool, creating a number of large sculptures, graphics, curtain/glass design, etc. I am currently working on a small sculpture for Brockwell Park.

Works from the New Alder Hey children’s hospital
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  alderyheybirds  bird 100 closeBronze Fox                                     Roost – A Hundred Birds              Bird Close Up

Head over to Lucy’s website for of her work: www.lucycasson.co.uk. To discover other public art featured on B£ notes, click here

#YourPound: Meet the Trader – Seven and Three Eight Four

This post was researched and written by B£ volunteer Fabien Piesakowski-O’Neill.

Brixton Pound is a currency which encourages social connections, and so it is our pleasure to be introducing you to B£ traders as well as B£ users on our blog. This week, we’d like to introduce you to Jonny and Liam, owners of the cocktail bars Seven at Brixton and Three Eight Four. The bars offer a wide selection of cocktails, beers, wines, and tapas. Many B£ businesses have organised staff drinks at one of the bars (paid for in B£s of course!), and we heard these were always good times!

Jonny and Liam told us a bit about the story behind Seven and Three Eight Four:

“We walked past 7 Market Row (where Seven is now located) in mid-2011 and immediately wanted in! We started up with a tap, a sink, and a bar, and managed to blag, build and find a bit of furniture (4 years later our two large tables on the ground floor are still standing, both were chucked out on the street from an office above the Prince of Wales!) and grew things organically, got some money in the bank, and then got an ice machine, and other stuff. I still remember the mess we came into after the launch night, regretting not taking out a loan for a glass washing machine but that came after a while! Like many others, we found Brixton an inspirational place and thought we could cater for the cocktail and tapas needs of the community. There was and still definitely is a buzz on the streets throughout Brixton.”

Seven at Brixton

Seven At Brixton and Three Eight Four

Seven At Brixton and Three Eight Four

“Three Eight Four opened a few years later, in 2014, and gave us an opportunity to do another exciting thing in Brixton. We felt like we could offer something more than what we were offering at Seven: a more comfortable, relaxed setting with some more bespoke, delicate cocktails and dishes. We saw the space and were ready for a new challenge.”

“We built both bars because we wanted to be fantastic neighbourhood cocktail bars and kitchens. The difference is what kind of mood they’re in. At Three Eight Four there’s more time to peruse the menu and a much larger selection from our classic cocktail album, and at Seven you can book the whole of the upstairs for a Friday night party with your mates. The thing that makes both bars so satisfying for us is the number of people who choose to book with us for their special occasions. We’ve had 21st’s to 50th’s, wedding receptions, and our first ever engagement at Seven last week – they met there on a night out 3 years ago!”

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Tapas

Johnny and Liam are working with various local suppliers to create the food and drinks menus at Seven and Three Eight Four: “Our meats come from Jones the Butcher based up in Herne Hill, Brindisa have long been our supplier for Spanish goods, our seafood supplier is based in Bermondsey, breads are from Flour Power in New Cross Gate, fruit and veg from Mike at New Covent Garden Market (soon to be the American Embassy I think!), even our churros come from Spain via Shepperton!”

“Beer wise, we have a rotating guest slot for London beers at both Seven and Three Eight Four. We’ve welcomed beers from Coldharbour Hell Yeah from Clarkshaws on Coldharbour Lane, Orbit in Elephant & Castle, Canopy in Herne Hill, 40ft in Dalston, Five Points and Pressure Drop in Hackney, we’ll soon be welcoming Belleville from Clapham. We think its really important to give new breweries the opportunity to get a foot in the door and get their product out there so it’s a really exciting part of the business for us. We’re currently hoping to develop something very exciting with Brixton Brewery so watch this space!”

Sinner Mam The Bombay Kitchen Nightshade

“We offer 10% off for B£ users as per back in the day! Our latest cocktail menu at Seven also gave each guest B£1 with every Brixton Sour they bought. We thought it was a great way to promote the organisation and put the actual currency in people’s hands! Hopefully it’s done something for the local economy and improved the circulation of notes – I think we’ve cleared you out at one point actually!”

“Seven also holds an upstairs gallery which provides a platform for local artists to exhibit their wares and show off what they are doing. We’re in a very very creative part of London and it’s often important for artists to get that foot in door – we’d like to think we’ve helped people on their way with this. Different artists who have work with us have, as a result, been featured in fashion shoots for Topman, French Connection and ASOS, a few have had works commissions and one artist is now designing the labels for our wine supplier.”

The upstairs gallery at Seven

“At the moment we have works up from the Brothers of the Stripe, a group of artists based around London, we’ve had Adam Hemuss, a local artist whose works are quite mesmerising and very very detailed, fantastic artwork that almost comes to life after one or two mojitos. We had a few installation pieces when we opened from a couple of lads from Camberwell Arts College, it was very interesting and quite conceptual for the time, similarly some work from Ella Harrison, a previous staff member – her work is still in the toilet at the moment! Id-iom, a South London based graffiti duo, they did lots of work at the beginning, most of which can still be seen at the bottom of the stairs, and Ellie Jane did some fantastic stuff upstairs a few years back.”

“Our new Autumn/Winter menu has just launched at both bars. We love for our staff to create new drinks for our guests, we think its really important to change with the seasons and get the staff to get their cocktails on the menu.”

If you haven’t checked out Seven’s and Three Eight Four’s new menu yet – get on it! #friday

Seven is located in Brixton Market at 7 Market Row
HoursMon 9am to 6pm. Tues – Sat 9am-11.30pm. Sun 10am-11.30pm http://www.sevenatbrixton.com

Three Eight Four is located at 384 Coldharbour Lane
HoursMon – Fri 5pm till late. Sat & Sun 11am till late
http://www.threeeightfour.com

We’ve got a shop!

Brixton Pound has set up shop – we’re now at 3 Atlantic Road, SW9 8HX, right off Brixton’s high street.

Though we’ve very sad to see A&C Continental go, we are grateful to the owner, Jose, for inviting us to take care of the space now that the deli is closed.

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We are still selling Jose’s famous pasteis de nata – a Portuguese delicacy that roughly translates to custard tarts. Come along and get one! They’re only B£1.

In the shop, we’re providing information about Brixton and the Brixton Pound, as well as exchanging pounds sterling into Brixton Pounds, selling Brixton Bonus tickets, mint condition Brixton Pound notes and Brixton Pound t-shirts.

And, more importantly, we want the shop to be a community-focused space. We want to know what you, the community members, would like to see on the Brixton high street. Would you like to run a workshop, host an event in the space, or have other ideas for using it for community benefit? We want to show that a different high street is possible!

We’d really appreciate your thoughts. Please do pop in for a chat – at the moment we’re open on weekdays 9am-6:30pm. Alternatively please feel free to drop us a line on info (at) brixtonpound (dot) org. We’re looking forward to more conversations with Brixtonites!

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#BrixtonBonus – Meet the Winner: Will

We have another Brixton Bonus winner! Will Bugler was the lucky person who got B£1,000 in the August draw. He joins the small crowd of winners, some of whom are featured in our Winners Gallery – have a look! And make sure you get some Bonus tickets before the next draw on 25th September – who knows, it could be you next time! Better yet, set up a recurring entry to never miss a chance for a Brixton Grand – and get some extra goodies as a reward from us.

Become a…

You can set up your recurring entry here. You must have a B£ account, to register for one, go here. Entries must be set to recur indefinitely to unlock rewards (n.b. they can be cancelled at any time).

Brixton Pound met Will at the Market House pub on Coldharbour Lane to find out a bit more about him and his grand Bonus experience:

“I moved to Brixton five years ago with my girlfriend. That time’s gone really quick! I didn’t know anything about Brixton before I moved here. My family left London when I was five, and back then the area had a very different reputation,  so I came not knowing what to expect at all. It’s amazing how quickly you build a rapport with Brixton – it rubbed off on me pretty instantly.”

“It’s so vibrant, and such a mix of cultures. Of course I’m aware of how quickly it’s changing. Five years is nothing compared to how long some people have been here, and already it seems like there were barely any restaurants then, and now the whole neighbourhood has exploded with them. I’m aware of that change, but also conscious of the fact that I’m part of it. I think it’s important to have that awareness of being part of the process, so that you can support things that go the other way, make sure you contribute to something good.”

“The Brixton Pound is a great example, it’s an easy and tangible way of contributing to the area, keeping money circulating within it, of being more socially responsible. What makes Brixton great is its diversity, and using B£ is a very practical step towards preserving it. It’s sometimes tough to know how to change things, you often get the sense you’re stuck because it’s all governmental politics with issues such as increasing rent which is currently the biggest factor driving people out of the area. It’s a lot safer around here, but surely that doesn’t mean it has to be at the cost of diversity? You have to put pressure on politicians, but it’s completely different to have this power to do something different in your everyday life, like pay with B£s. It takes a conscious effort, but more people should be aware of their impact, and how they can offset at least some of it.”

“I work in climate change adaptation – not carbon cutting, but advising companies how to change their behaviour, practices and policies because of what we know is already happening to the climate. I was already interested in local currencies, and then I saw the B£ with Bowie on it and thought, that’s so cool! I found out about Bonus from the Brixton Blog and thought it was a brilliant idea: more people will know about the currency, and it’s a way to keep them spending it, keep the money circulating. I already had some B£s in my account so I got tickets, but I didn’t expect to win!”

“What will I do with my prize? I’ve donated some of it already to Brixton Soup Kitchen and the Norwood and Brixton Foodbank. Solomon who runs Brixton Soup Kitchen is such a great Brixton character. I want to give some to Brixton People’s Kitchen, too. I took my girlfriend out to Casa Sibilla, it’s run by people who used to be our neighbours. I called up this new place, Naughty Piglets, they don’t take B£ yet but seemed very keen, can you get in touch with them? I’m gonna spend some at Brixton Cycles, too – I’m a cyclist, and they’ve got a fundraising campaign going on because their premises are under threat, so it will be good to support them. And with the weather changing I should really get some waterproofs! I’m sure there’s a lot of other places where I can spend B£s, I just have to form the habit – we’re here in Market House which takes B£, but I completely forgot and paid in regular pounds. Oh, and I will buy more Bonus tickets!

“I’d like to stay in Brixton. It gets under your skin. It’s such a real location, like its own town, you don’t get the same feeling anywhere else. I love the creative vibe, but also how down to earth everyone is. And it’s always loud, and crowded, and in your face, you get out of the tube station and there’s people playing drums and someone shouting about Jesus and all that is weirdly comforting, maybe because it’s so alive. It’s not sanitised. A lot of the problems are really wider London problems, but I guess they are more noticeable here exactly because there’s such a strong local identity.”

Take your Brixton Pounds on holiday! #lostandpound

Have you seen the 2001 French film Amélie? In it, a young woman comes up with creative ways of improving the lives of those around her. Among other projects, she sets out to shake her father out of depression and reawaken his dream of traveling the world, so she steals his garden gnome and has a flight attendant friend take pictures of it with various international landmarks. Apparently that’s a widely known thing: the travelling gnome prank.

photos of the travelling gnome from the film Amelie

What does that have to do with the Brixton Pound? Well, seeing as it’s the holiday season, we thought we’d invite you to play our own version of the Amélie game and take your Brixton Pounds to travel with you! It’s money that sticks to Brixton, and can only be spent there, but wouldn’t it be funny for B£s to see the world?

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Brixton Pound at the Great Pyramid of Giza, Egypt #lostandpound

Brixton Pound at Lake Zürich, Switzerland

Brixton Pound at Lake Zürich, Switzerland #lostandpound

Where will you take your B£s? Even if it’s just a different part of London, take a picture with a B£ in a place other than Brixton, and send it to us with hashtag #lostandpound! Post on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, other social media, or simply email us at info@brixtonpound.org. We’ll publish the best on our website, and throw some Brixton Bonus tickets in 🙂

#Your Pound: Meet the Trader – The Turpentine

Brixton Pound is a currency which encourages social connections, and so it is our pleasure to be introducing you to B£ traders as well as B£ users on our blog. This week, we’re featuring the creative hub The Turpentine, home to our shiny B£ t-shirts and B£ pay-by-tap pioneers!

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“People really like them, especially the purple one!” says Amber, one of The Turpentine‘s co-founders. “They are also really good quality, the design is durable and doesn’t come out in the wash. We’ve had so many happy customers.”

The beginnings of The Turpentine go way back, and start with friends connecting friends. Co-founder Alice, who was living in Berlin at the time, introduced Amber and Jude at a friend’s dinner: “I knew Jude always dreamed of opening a coffee shop, and Amber wanted to set up something of her own, too, so I thought I’d connect them. Some time later I moved back, and they were already working on a project together!” They started will selling artwork at street markets, to then find a temporary home at Effra Social. Jude: “We would do markets there: have 20 tables with the stuff from our artists, workshops, music and dancing. It was such a great way to get to know people, find out what they wanted, what worked well – to get an idea of what our market was, and if what we were doing was falling on good ground.” Then one day Alice walked past the unit where to shop is today on Coldharbour Lane, and noticed it was available: “I called them up there and then, and couldn’t believe our luck when we got it! We never thought we could afford to open a permanent space in Brixton, we expected our offer to be rejected.. so when we actually got it we needed to do some frantic planning, fast!”

The name is a result of three nights’ worth of brainstorming. Jude: “We wanted something that combined a shop space with our workshops, something accessible, catchy, gender-neutral, art-based… and what had a domain name still up for grabs!”, she laughs. “Since then it’s been a constant learning process: the planning was easy, but then actually doing it! At one stage we just had to open, and realised we didn’t really think what was going to happen past that point. Amber had a lot of retail experience, but we didn’t yet have all the little systems you’ve got to have in place to make it all running smoothly.” Alice adds: “It was also a learning experience to work from home, with only one team meeting in the week – we don’t have any office space. But a year after opening, we’ve doubled the number of artists whose work we showcase, from 50 to over a hundred. We’ve seen people wearing our t-shirts at Brixton Academy gigs. Walking around Brixton there’s so much greeting and waving, because so many local people have been to our workshops.  And we just hired our first employee! It’s a big milestone. But the best feeling is probably the realisation that it’s actually happening: no more office jobs, this is our life now, and we’re loving every bit of it! We’re building something that’s ours, and since we’re best friends, we’re working with people we love and trust, and that’s amazing.”

“It’s been really great having all the positive feedback from customers. And that Guardian article has helped us a lot! We’re finally at the stage when we can start planning a bit more from the future, not just living from month from month and figuring out. And it never gets old: getting packages with new artwork delivered is like Christmas every day! It’s so exciting to see any new thing or design for the first time.”

The Turpentine's first own collection of lasercut wood jewellery

The Turpentine’s first own collection of lasercut wood jewellery

Amber is The Turpentine‘s curator, and works to maintain the shop’s distinctive feel: fun, accessible, bright, affordable – and finds new artists who fit into these themes: “We’re always looking for more artists, particularly locals. We’re into nice handmade things for not loads of money – something different to what you can find on the high street.” “But we’re on a high street!”, interjects Alice, “We’re literally bringing handmade to the high street, that’s our motto.”

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Three new sets of notebooks available at The Turpentine: feminists, anti-capitalists, and existentialists

Amazing artwork is not all that The Turpentine has to offer: they also specialise in workshops. Jude’s a jewellery designer and teacher, and also “a collector of weird craft techniques, which I like passing on. Lots of people are reluctant to try crafting because it can seem daunting, but most really enjoy it when they try – and it’s not that hard! We’re here to help break that barrier, enable people to use their creativity, give them some key principles they can then take away to do at home.”

Their most popular workshop is called Drink & Draw, and is currently booked out months in advance. Alice: “That was the one featured in the Guardian so it became even more popular. It also slotted well into the New Years Resolutions feel around the time the article was published. But we have lots more! A really awesome one is Wax Casting – you make a ring by carving it in wax, then casting in silver. You can make really unusual shapes, it’s very simple and you come out with an amazing one-off piece. You can also easily do it at home, the tools aren’t expensive which is not a common thing in jewellery design. It’s a really easy access to jewellery making, you should try it!” Watch this space, maybe we’ll expand our B£ collection from t-shirts to rings! 😉

The next big workshops The Turpentine is preparing will be a more in-depth, four week long painting course. “We’ve had lots of interest for life drawing, particularly from local people, so we thought we’d expand into painting too. It’s just great to see these ideas that started in our heads and see them work out! Also to meet customers, hear stories, have all these interactions you wouldn’t otherwise have. Some people do come from afar, even Essex, usually for Drink & Draw of the Guardian fame, but it’s the local connections that matter, and those are the people we’ll recognise and greet when walking around Brixton.”

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The Turpentine started accepting B£s pretty soon after opening: “The charming Tom came in one day and offered to sign us up, and we were glad to get involved. We were very flattered when he then approached us for a collaboration. We met with him and the note designer, Charlie, and the ideas for the t-shirts were born. Jude, our in-house designer did the designs, and the rest is history! People love those shirts, some have no idea about the currency so we tell them all about it, and more often then not they leave with a t-shirt in tow. People do B£ pay-by-text a lot, and now we also have the contactless terminal, so we’re excited to have pay-by-tap too!”

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The three best friends live in a triangle around the shop: in Brixton, Herne Hill, and just by the Jamm. Jude and Alice first moved South together as flatmates in 2003: to Elephant & Castle, and then to Stockwell. Amber worked in Photofusion at the time. Jude did jewellery design at St Martins, and then taught architecture and 3D design for five years. Making jewellery was her hobby, and now that it’s also her work she finds it hard not to do things that are Turpentine related… “I did just start singing lessons! And I love mooching about in Brixton. I live near Brockwell Park so always go there. And I love Las Americas, a Colombian caf with street food on top of Brixton Station Road. Their shredded beef is incredible.” Amber and Alice: “And why have you not taken us there yet? Sounds like the next Turpentine dinner!” Alice is an avid cyclist, and likes that she can take her bike into the market when she’s buying fruit and veg. “I mainly shop in the outdoor market but Nour Cash & Carry is great too. I like Casa Morita for Mexican food. I finally went to Mama Lan the other day after years of going past it – I just hate queues, and it’s always busy!” Amber had her wedding reception at the Trinity Arms: “It’s an amazing old pub, I love the place, and it never gets so busy you can’t have a conversation. I like the Ritzy too – I’m about to have a baby so it’s less pubs and more cinema. I like Brixton because there’s always something new, like graffiti. Did you see the new one on the back of the library, with the Jurassic Park computer guy?”

“We’re really lucky, it’s rare to have best friends working together, and it’s great that there’s three of us, cause it’s a lot of work to share! The shop is open every day, and we do workshops three evenings each week and they’re usually sold out.. But it never gets overwhelming, we support each other, it’s not like either of us has to do it all by herself, and that’s great. As Brixton residents and business owners we have mixed feelings about the fast pace of some changes. Of course it’s good for our business that Brixton is now a destination and more people come here, but some changes are happening too fast and there’s a danger they will erode the community. For us personally it means that if we have to move, we’ll have to move further away, which is sad – Brixton was so welcoming when we were setting up, people here are so supportive and curious, that sets it apart from the rest of London. Of course we’re part of that change, but we came to Brixton because it was vibrant and different – it’s sad we might lose that. We worry about the spirit of Brixton, but we hope it endures.”

#YourPound: Meet the User – Duncan

Over the last two years we’ve been introducing you to our traders – independent business owners who are part of the Brixton Pound family. In this new series we’d like to introduce you to the members of the community who are just as significant: the Brixton Pound users! Last year you’ve met PaulAliciaManda, PamelaPaulVincent, and Francis, and today we’d like to introduce you to Duncan.

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Duncan is the co-founder of Transition Town Brixton, a community-led initiative to engage everyone in imagining, planning and pioneering the way towards a better future that is less dependent on scarce resources, and more interconnected, cooperative, resilient, humane, local and fun. It has given rise to such ground breaking projects as the Brixton Pound, Community Draught Busters, The Remakery, Brixton Energy/Repowering London, and most recently the Lambeth Local Entrepreneur Forum, the first edition of which is happening on 2nd June.

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Held at Brixton East 1871 next week, this is an opportunity for small or start-up enterprises to pitch to their local “community of dragons” (everyone!) for support – and not just of money! Everyone can be an investor: of money but also time, resources, skills, enthusiasm, moral support or Facebook likes… With this project, Transition Town Brixton aims to create a culture of community-supported local economy, where the community can invest in various ways in developing the local economy. The audience will include entrepreneurs, potential investors, activists, decision-makers, and community members, and such speakers as the founder of the global Transition Town movement Rob Hopkins, and Lambeth’s Entrepreneur-in-residence, Colin Crooks of Tree Shepherd. The tickets include a seasonal, locally-sourced buffet supper. A one-off special elderflower brew from Brixton Brewery will also be served! And there’s a big discount if you pay in B£s – just text ‘pay ttbrixton 12.99’ to 07797880200. We’ll be there – it would be great to see many of you too!

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Back to Duncan: he is an actor and director by training, but he is also long-term concerned about climate change, peak oil, and sustainability, so campaigning on these issues has been his increasing focus: “I went to Climate Camp in 2006 and decided that was going to be my front line activity. I also met Rob Hopkins, who started the Transition Town movement. So in 2007 I converted my local activities with Lambeth Climate Action Groups into Transition Town Brixton. It was more positive, more moving forward, and less fighting against.”

“Climate change affects the viability of the life on this planet, so to me that’s the single most important thing, and that conviction drives me to work on it. I’m also more aware that being angry or scared isn’t galvanising: we need the pull factor, not the push factor, offer people to experience the positive effects of change and work towards a future that’s better, more connected, local, skilled, and fun! It would be fun because people would be actively participating in it and involved in doing it, which would make it enjoyable. It’s much more fun to build a treehouse than to read a book where a character has one. Connecting with local people is one of the Five Ways to Wellbeing according to research done by New Economics Foundation, and doing that in real life rather than online is more rewarding.”

“We did a project called Food Upfront, which was about growing food in front gardens – to be seen, to inspire others, to make sharing the care for them easier (your neighbour could water them for you when you’re away), to change the aesthetic of the streets but also people’s thinking around sharing resources and what ‘common sense’ is. Imagine every house with a front garden full of vegetables, houses covered in greenery and vine, and a swimming pool reservoir in the middle of the street instead of parking spaces because we wouldn’t be using cars – wouldn’t that be brilliant?”

How can you do stuff in your everyday life to contribute to this vision? “I don’t own a car, I cycle. I work on my house to make it as low impact as possible, insulate it, implement positive innovation. I try to be an active part of the rich mix that is Brixton. Getting involved in stuff like the Local Entrepreneur Forum, which is all about what we can do to speed up localisation, to enable people and businesses to be more proactively part of the solution. We want to change how people think, give them more connections to the area and to each other, make them more involved in the local economy, and have people be more aware of the benefits of that. It’s part of the Transition Town movement’s REconomy project – about an economy that’s rethought, reconnected, relocalised. It unifies a lot of the Transition Towns’ projects under a powerful theme that speaks to regular people as well as decision makers.”

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“On a Lambeth level, there’s so much that could be done to relocalise. For instance our research has shown that almost the entire spending on Lambeth parks disappears outside Lambeth, when it could be using local suppliers, employing local people. Similarly, our studies have shown that of the massive spending of food in Lambeth most goes to supermarket, and relocalising just 10% of it would double the turnover of local food economy. That would give the area more resilience, and more possibilities for local supply.”

“I’ve been here for 28 years. Sure, it was different in 1987, but also much the same: a sparky, vibrant place where stuff happens.  My first real experience of engaging in community building and local networks was when I moved to the top of Brixton Hill and set up a neighbourhood association there. It’s since suffered from many changes in the area, but is now being revived by a new generation of local people, because the area attracts good, community-oriented people still. If I’m honest, I moved here because my brother and I could afford a flat here in 1987, and he worked in Kingston so it was convenient. But I loved it instantly – people just spoke to you in the street, and there was life in the streets, it was open. Now… well, I think lots of that energy is still here. Of course, there’s no salvation from gentrification, but the fat cats in Volvos will move on when they get a better deal somewhere else, and the people who care will stay. I’ve seen so many people get involved in the Transition Town movement, in our group in Brixton. This one guy used to be a corporation worker, he took a leaflet and came to a meeting, and is now a hard line climate activist. People would come to one film screening, and decide they wanted to give significant portions of their time for this. Do I think more people would get involved if they knew some of the things about climate change that I know? Not necessarily. I think knowledge is necessary but it’s not the answer. If you have the eco literacy and can add up causes and effects you’ll realise that however you live in the Western world you will be a high impact person, and lots of people cannot get their heads around it – it sounds so hopeless. What we need is more holistic thinking, and the pull factor: not only show people that living differently is possible and enjoyable, but get them to experience it themselves, the positives rather than the negatives. I’ve taken part in food growing groups and skill sharing groups that changed how I live, and I’ve thoroughly enjoyed myself in the process. It’s about embodying hope.”

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“In 1992 we set up a LETS (Local Exchange Trading Scheme) here, and suddenly I was aware of all these great people doing interesting things. I’m still in touch with a lot of them! It was such a revolutionary scheme, enabling people to trade directly between each other. There was a bimonthly catalogue which was just such a delight to read, you saw all these people offering amazing skills, I kept thinking, “I want to meet this person! I wanna know how they came about knowing this great skill they’re offering!” I used to offer high bed advice, because I built quite a few, so I was offering to co-design with people who’d want one. It was great and really connected you to people. And Brixton Pound grew out of that: in 2008 we did a conference called Local Economy Day, about how to do it and why you should, and we trialled B£s for the first time there during lunch break. We printed a bunch of notes called Brixton Bricks, and they represented the LETS credits. And then it all took off and look where we are today!”

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“I’m probably one of the most frequent B£ users, I spend it in Brixton Whole Foods, Snugg, Brixi, Morleys, Kaff, C@fe Brixton on Brixton Station Road, at Bushman’s… I mostly use pay-by-text. It all started partly from economic reasons but partly to get people to think and talk about what money really is, and I think it’s still fulfilling that purpose. It’s probably past its “this is revolutionary” phase, and now more people respond to it with slight incredulity, “is it still going?”, but that means they will have heard about it. And if you’ve got some, you’ll spend them back into the local economy. And by using more B£s, people are making it easier to set up local supply chains, maybe even distribution centres…”

“I’ve got two kids – a two year old and a four year old. I spend mornings and evenings with my family. It’s time-consuming, but it’s also rewarding and delightful. That’s also work for a viable future: you can produce powerful people. We try to do fun things together, like cycling around in my Burmese rickshaw, or a bike and bike trailer. We go to Forest School on Mondays in Streatham Common woods, it’s run by a local enterprise called Sankofa to Nature. There the kids play in a way that connects them to nature and they learn natural skills, like watching animals or setting a campfire, or just being dirty and in touch with nature. I don’t really have time for sailing, or reading, or theatre – which used to be a big part of my life, but instead we’ve been camping twice with the Forest School. Did you know there is a campsite on the edge of Dulwich Woods? There’s still bits in London where nature is doing its own work. And seeing the kids do roly polys, playing in the field there – that’s probably the best thing there is.”

 

Would you like to be featured in our next Meet The User post? We could meet you for a chat over lunch or tea/coffee, or you could write us a guest blog. Drop us a line at info@brixtonpound.org!

It is time to MOVE YOUR MONEY

The banking sector isn’t working for people, small business or wider society. Despite plunging the economy into the worst recession in living memory and enjoying the biggest tax-payer bailout in history, big banks continue to profit while public services and local economies starve.

These are very much the concerns of Move Your Money, a new campaign launched last week , at the onset of the banking bonus season.

Move Your Money UK seeks to use consumer power to both raise awareness around and support mutually owned, ethical and socially useful banking providers, such as credit unions, building societies, community development finance institutions. It wants to see a financial system that works for people and society, it seeks to engage the public with the financial system and to promote an open and constructive dialogue between the two.

The B£ is delighted to support the Move Your Money campaign, as it is very much in line with our own aims of empowering people to reclaim control over their money through their spending decisions (a local currency enables just that!), and through supporting ethical banking providers (such as the London Mutual Credit Union on Acre Lane) who will reinvest into local communities, small businesses, and those who are financially excluded.

You can check out the Move Your Money campaign here, and also see a very funny video about some high street performers…Lastly, you can read more about our Brixton based ethical bank, the London Mutual Credit Union, right here.  (Place your cursor over any of the bold text and a link will appear).

Will you move your money?

 

 

Pempamsie – African cultural shop

PempamsiePempamsie is an African cultural shop on Brixton Hill: a stone’s throw away from Lambeth Town Hall, it is run by Ehwunah.

The store sells an eclectic mix of items, such as wonderfully patterned clothing, cool jewelry, books, art, home furnishings, as well as lifestyle and health and natural beauty products. These are made out of an array of African plant ingredients, which you’ll be forgiven for not recognizing!
Workshops and talks are also held in the shop.

Whether you are interested in all things African, or you are just looking for a stylish gift, this is the place for you: Pempamsie, 102 Brixton Hill, SW2 1AH. Tel: 020 8671 0800

Pempamsie supports the B£: do ask in store about any B£ special offers.