Come along to our free film night at the Brixton Pound Cafe. The event is free but please consider giving us a donation to cover our costs.
In Our Hands
In Our Hands explores a quiet revolution that is transforming the way our food is produced and distributed. Our current industrial food system is a vast and wheezing giant that is only upheld by a stilted subsidy regime that pays out to landowners and leaves many farmers by the wayside.
But from the hedge-rows and by-roads, the fields and furrows can now be heard the stirring of change! Stories from the global South have inspired farmers and food workers in our snug little island, with the idea of food sovereignty and a global movement to take back control of the food system.
From the grazier reviving the art of pasture, to the grower erecting a poly-tunnel in the heart of East London or the farmer saving a handful of ancient grain, a new agricultural landscape is emerging. Here rural traditions meet modern innovations in a new food system that will bring back life to the soil, a fair wage to the farmer and a flavour to the tomato!
Throughout the tumultuous summer of the Brexit referendum the Landworkers’ Alliance joined forces with two film-makers, to unearth the farms and faces that are making this change happen.
We stand on the brink, the future is uncertain, but the seeds of a better food system are In Our Hands!
The film is being shown on Wednesday 3 October at 7pm at the Brixton Pound Cafe at 77 Atlantic Road. One of the producers of In Our Hands, Holly Black, will be attending the event. Please donate what you can so that we can continue to run progressive film nights at the cafe. Please register for your free tickets.
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!
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.”
“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.”
“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!”
“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 email@example.com!
Just in time for Fashion Week – we’ve got t-shirts!
The fruits of our collaboration with The Turpentine are here, and in our humble opinion they look great! The t-shirts are limited edition (a hundred of each design), and this batch has a serial number BP100000001.
To get your hands on one (or more!) of these beauties head to The Turpentine, 433 Coldharbour Lane – a Brixton-based creative hub and our partner in this fashion endeavour – or their online shop: http://www.theturpentine.com/collections/brixton-pound-t-shirts! They are available in unisex sizes S, M and L and are £24 each, with a 10% discount available if paid for in B£. As the design used for the shirts is inspired by Southwyck House (The Barrier Block), we thought it’s only fair that the Block residents are entitled to a half price discount – £12 (proof of address required). Additionally, 10% of every purchase will go straight into the Brixton Fund, our micro-grants scheme which will support local projects which increase employment opportunities, take action for social justice, or simply produce activities beneficial to the local community.
Designed by Jude de Berker of The Turpentine, the t-shirts feature the artwork used on paper Brixton Pounds, designed by Charlie Waterhouse and Clive Paul Russell of This Ain’t Rock’n’Roll. The Turpentine is a creative hub based in the heart of Brixton, bringing handmade to the high street. They sell beautiful design led art, jewellery and home wares and run art workshops from their store on Coldharbour Lane. Designer Jude de Berker, a London born Central Saint Martins alumni, is one of three co-founder’s. With a broad background from fine jewellery to branding, she enjoys the challenge of multidisciplinary designing. All her work combines influences from her time of teaching architecture and her interest in symbology: “I love combining clean lines with unusual materials and bold colours especially when these can be combined with rich storytelling.”
Here’s what Jude said about the design process for the B£ t-shirts:
“I wanted to take elements from the Brixton Pound to create t-shirt designs that could stand on their own but also work alongside the notes. All the graphical information has been taken directly from the notes, from the background lines and vivid colours to incorporating the serial number of the first ever Brixton Pound on the first 100 t-shirts of each design. I love the storytelling of Charlie Waterhouse’s designs linking the notes to Brixton, so I incorporated the zigzag lines inspired by Southwyck House that feature on all the notes and the flying birds from the nuclear dawn mural on Carlton Mansions from the £10 note. It’s been a pleasure working with the guys at the Brixton Pound and hopefully we’ve created t-shirt s that people will love to wear.”
The t-shirts, hand screen printed in the UK, are also a statement of our values: organic and ethically made, they are products with a positive social and a minimum environmental footprint. The organic cotton material is ethically traded and carbon neutral: manufactured solely using sustainable energy generated from wind and solar power, and was provided by EarthPositive, whose apparel is made to demonstrate the highest possible environmental, social, and ethical standards in one of the world’s most environmentally damaging industries.
We’re never going to tell you to diet (all bodies are beautiful). But there are a few things we at B£ would like to do, or do more of, in 2015, and we thought we’d share our thoughts with you.
1) Keep shopping locally.
You all did a stellar job at shopping locally at BriXmas – thank you! Supporting independent businesses and a resilient local economy is a year-round kind of thing though, so it would be great if more of us did more of it. Using B£s is a great way to show your love for a unique, diverse, independent Brixton – and there aren’t many things you *can’t* buy (Aromatherapy, Belly dancing, Comedy club… and many many more all the way till Z). Next time you need something: everyday things (groceries, dry cleaning, DIY supplies), special occasion things (wellness treatments, jewellery, flowers) – check out the B£ Directory and see if you can get it in your local independent business and pay in B£s.
Many B£ users have told us before that using B£ actually *saved* them money – it’s so easy to manage your expenses. Set up a standing order for a sum of your choice – B£20, 30, maybe 50 a month, and try to do your all your shopping with it. It helps to buy what you need and when you need it. Going to big chain stores and supermarkets usually ends with buying lots of things you didn’t want or need in the first place. And what you do spend benefits the community!
3) Get to know your neighbourhood better
You can explore the B£ Directory – visit businesses you didn’t know were right there, on your doorstep. But Brixton is so much bigger than that, and its rich history and communities can sometimes go unnoticed. Check out Unseen Tours, a multi-award winning social enterprise which offers unique walking tours of London led by homeless, formerly homeless, and vulnerably housed tour guides. Community leader Mahamed, their Brixton guide, will show you many things about your local area that you didn’t know about before. The B£ team went on a tour with him just before Christmas and we learned a lot! He’s an amazing guy, and literally everyone said hello to him in the street.
To book a Brixton tour, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 07514 266 774. Unseen also do tours of Brick Lane, Camden, Covent Garden, London Bridge, and Shoreditch – tell your friends!
4) Donate to local charities – in B£s
Did you know you can give B£s to Brixton charities? Brixton Pound supports a number of local charities and community groups who take donations via pay-by-text, so you can use your B£e balance to make a quick and easy donation to a cause you support. The charities can then use their B£s locally; for instance Norwood and Brixton Foodbank regularly buys huge amounts of food with B£s from grocery shops like Faiz Foods. Another great community charity is the Brixton Soup Kitchen, a grassroots project helping homeless people by providing food, support and companionship, and aiming to empower Londoners in need in a warm and friendly environment. Aside from hot meals they offer CV workshops, job guidance, and advice on housing and benefits.
Is your bank heavily investing in oil, gas and coal extraction? These are socially and environmentally disastrous industries, and so effectively the big banks are driving irreversible climate change. Not in your name? You want to get involved in Move Your Money UK’s new campaign Divest!The campaign is asking you to take control of your savings and put your bank on notice.Divest! is giving the big banks 3 months – if they don’t clean up their act, Move Your Money can advise you where to move to support Good Money: where your savings will be contributing to a positive change in the world. Brixton Pound supports ethical banking, and so is backing the Divest! campaign. Take action now and put your bank on notice – “either you divest, or I will!”
6) Go vegan!
The already very high vegan contingent of the B£ Team is getting a boost from one of us who’s doing Veganuary this year – good luck Tom! Going vegan, or at least reducing your meat and dairy consumption, makes a bigger environmental impact than giving up driving! It reduces carbon emissions and pollution, saves water, energy, and wildlife. It’s also super good for you. Have a go! If you’re very used to eating meat and dairy, try it part-time: limit the days on which you eat those products, and try to introduce more vegan recipes to your cooking. The Veganuary website has lots of resources for beginner vegans.
7) Fly less
Flying massively contributes to climate change, and instead of flying less, we are flying more and more – according to Wikipedia about 8.3 million people fly daily, which is twice as much as in 1999. When you’re planning your holiday or business travel this year, consider overland options!
Tell us what *you* are doing for a more sustainable 2015!
Is your bank heavily investing in oil, gas and coal extraction? 1 in 3 people in Britain want their banks to stop investing in fossil fuels. These are socially and environmentally disastrous industries, and so effectively the big banks are driving irreversible climate change. Not in your name? You want to get involved in Move Your Money UK’s new campaign Divest!
If you agree banks should divest from fossil fuels, the Divest! campaign is asking you to take control of your savings and put your bank on notice.Click here to send them an email with a simple ultimatum – either they disclose their investments and vow to take your money out of fossil fuels, or you’ll take your money out of their accounts.
Divest! is giving the big banks 3 months – if they don’t clean up their act, Move Your Money can advise you where to move to support Good Money: where your savings will be contributing to a positive change in the world.
By pledging your support, you are joining a growing movement of divestors that are moving their money out of the problem and into the solution. Check out Move Your Money’s website for more information about the campaign.
Brixton Pound supports ethical banking, and so is backing the Divest! campaign. Take action now and put your bank on notice – “either you divest, or I will!”
You can watch a short film of the whole experience right here – I hope it inspires you to reject the west end, chain stores, supermarkets and big name brands and get down to Brixton to spend your money where it matters. You won’t be disappointed.
Extra special thanks to all the shopkeepers and staff for letting us film and being generous with your time, morleys for issuing my pounds, a massive thanks to Fiona Melville (19 Electric films), filmmaker extraordinaire, who filmed, produced and edited the video, Simon Bishop for equipment loan, and lastly to Rosie’s deli and Mckinson costcutter on Acre Lane for providing the appropriate refreshments and allowing us to spend even more Brixton Pounds.