We’re going to be bringing The Estuary Alternative out as a paper…

To help boost this initiative of promoting grassroots alternatives and projects along the estuary that are helping to build a new world in the shell of the increasingly dystopian one we currently endure, we going to be bringing out The Estuary Alternative as a paper. Following on from the Southend Radical Fair that was held on May 6th at The Railway in Clifftown Road, we want to develop a central clearing house where people can go to in order to find out what’s going on, network with each other and promote their own projects. We realise that patience and a fair bit of graft in the form of networking is required to really get this project off the ground and that it’s going to take time…

So, if you run a grassroots community project that’s promoting a positive alternative, feel free to write a few paragraphs about what you’re doing and it can go into the paper and onto the blog as well. We’re aiming to bring The Estuary Alternative paper out two times a year. Ideally, all we want to do is edit other people’s contributions, lay the paper out and sort out the printing. Unless it’s about the projects we’re personally involved in, we really don’t want to be writing the content – we want this to be your paper…

When it comes to distribution of the paper, needless to say, we’re not going to be doing this door-to-door. We’re looking for other sympathetic venues such as The Railway and Utopia to take small bundles of the paper for their patrons. If run or know of such a venue, let us know and it will be added to the distribution list. Also, if you want to take papers to distribute to your friends, neighbours and family, let us know and we’ll sort something out.

As for funding the cost of printing the paper, we’re happy to fork out for the first issue but after that, we really would like contributions from groups running grassroots projects in the area. We really want this blog and the paper to be a collaborative effort and eventually, we want to reach a point where we can hand this project over so it’s run by the people involved in grassroots community projects along the estuary. So, it’s over to you…

Food Cultures: A Food Plan

Date: Saturday 10th June
Time: 2 -5pm
Venue: Focal Point Gallery, Elmer Avenue, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1NB

To what extent is the production and consumption of food central to how we experience the place we live in?

How is the food we eat related to wider economic, social and cultural policies?

Find out about local food initiatives and ethical alternatives to multi-national food companies.

Contribute to a discussion about how the future of our food cultures might be changed for the better.

Come and join Club Critical Theory and our special guests for an event all about our food cultures.

There will be talks, discussion, free local food and drink, and a chance to feed into a Food Plan for Southend.

Programme

Event starts at 2pm: Focal Point Gallery

Introduction by Joe Hill: Director of Focal Point Gallery

2.05pm: Andrew Branch (CCT, UEL) and Tony D Sampson (CCT, UEL) introduce CCT and discuss “food” culture as ordinary.

2.20pm: Guest Speaker: Alex Rhys-Taylor (Goldsmiths)

2.25pm: Q&A

2.30pm: Giles Tofield (CCT and Cultural Engine) and Clare Mitchell (Cultural Engine) introduce Southend’s Food Plan

2.40pm: Snack bite talks including – Southend in Transition, Project 49, Urban Farmers, Railway Garden Permaculture project, Mendip Wildlife Garden, Ron Bates (St Lawrence Orchard) and Dean Ward on foodbanks

3.30pm: Food Plan Workshops

Food from Kitchen 49 and Southend in Transition will be available during the workshops washed down by the Cultural Engine’s Southend-on-Seacider

CCT will be back in Sept 2017 with a Seaside Cultures Special

Southend Vegan Fair

We went along to the Southend Vegan Fair today to pick up a few tips and tricks on moving our diet and lifestyle onto a more sustainable, healthy and ethical basis. This event happened in the same month as the Southend Radical Fair so it’s an indication that there are folk in the area promoting sustainable alternatives to the system we have to endure at the moment. Rather than write up our thoughts about the Southend Vegan Fair, these are the thoughts of one of the organisers posted up on their Facebook page:

Well. What can I say? Today was an amazing experience.

All the months of hard work and planning paid off.

The day was a roaring success. At last count I think it was 11 stalls that had sold out of their products.

So many great people in attendance and the vibe was amazing throughout the entire day.

Everyone working together and mucking in has really warmed my heart.

Thank you to everyone that took part by having stalls and attending.

Thanks to the people that helped me when I needed them to! Kelly Fowler, my brother Lewis and of course Cllr. Helen McDonald and my beloved Jim who stepped up last minute.

Massive shout out to Lou from All Glamour No Guts for help, advice and guidance throughout!

As well as Chris Moore of JØTNARR who also gave me advice and help when I needed it!

Extra special thanks to the people of Bellevue Baptist Church for letting us host the event!

This was a really positive day for Southend on Sea. The town I hate to love, but love to hate.

For the animals,

Dean

Get digging!

Type ‘Brexit and food security’ into a search engine and you’ll come up with a slew of articles warning about significantly higher food prices, crops not being harvested because there isn’t the labour to undertake the task and last but by no means least, the distinct possibility of food production standards being lowered. This piece is just one example of what we found: Brexit about to trigger sky-high costs for British food industryhttp://www.politics.co.uk/comment-analysis/2017/05/02/brexit-about-to-trigger-sky-high-costs-for-british-food

Now we don’t want to come across as ‘Remoaners’ complaining about the impact of Brexit – as anarchists, we’re on record as having a pox on all your houses attitude towards the issue: A few thoughts on Brexit…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/03/29/a-few-thoughts-on-brexit/ However, if those eager to pull the UK out of the EU had undertaken some planning for life outside rather than relying on blind faith that things will work out okay in the end, we may not be facing a future of soaring food prices and disruptions to supply…

A tanking sterling has already started to force food prices to go up. If the UK ends up crashing out of the EU without any deal, tariffs on imported food from the EU will send prices soaring. Then there’s the question of the labour needed to get the food from the field to our plates. The stark fact is that much of this is undertaken by migrant labour from the EU. Already, there has been a decline in migration from the EU as potential migrants are being put off by what they feel will be a hostile welcome. If inward migration is cut to the levels the likes of UKIP and hard right Tories have been screaming for, we could face a situation where crops will be left to rot in the fields because there will be no-one to pick them. The jury is still out on this one but in a post Brexit UK where food prices are going through the roof, there may be a temptation to ease up on some hygiene and safety regulations relating to home produced and imported foodstuffs in a bid to keep prices down and stave off domestic discontent.

As the title of this piece suggests, there’s a solution…get digging! We’re not suggesting a patriotic ‘dig for victory’ drive – we’re anarchists and we don’t do patriotism or nationalism. What we are suggesting is making a start on building community resilience to deal with the shite that’s likely to come if we continue to rely on clueless politicians to negotiate the complexities of a Brexit no one seems to have any plans for or idea of how it’s going to pan out. One aspect of community resilience is localising as much food production as possible down to neighbourhood level.

We’re talking about things like turning your back garden over to growing your own. If you can get hold of an allotment, do so: Allotments going begging – get one while you can!https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/02/23/allotments-going-begging-get-one-while-you-can/ If you feel a plot may be too big to handle on your own, team up with friends and neighbours to work it and share the produce equitably. If you can, find a plot to start a community garden. It’s not always necessary to ask permission – we’ve seen guerilla gardened plots that have been going for a good few years without any unwanted attention from the authorities!

Obviously, it’s better if food growing can be done as a neighbourhood project. Working together growing food and sharing the produce helps to build friendships and goes a long way to generating the community solidarity that will be vital in the troubled times ahead. Localising food production in this way with the solidarity it generates, not only gives you more control over where your food comes from, it’s empowering people to start taking more responsibility for, and control over, the neighbourhoods they live in. Also, growing food in this way is healthier, not just because of the fresh air and exercise involved but also because you have complete control over the inputs. Once a community feels empowered enough to start taking control of their food supply, that could lead to some interesting developments in the fight for a more just, equitable, sane and sustainable world…

Unsure how to make a start? Below is a list of resources which have loads of useful information on community gardening that can be done in a healthy and sustainable way – get reading!

Resources

Billericay Community Garden – https://www.facebook.com/billericaycommunitygarden/
Empty Cages Design – http://www.emptycagesdesign.org/
South East Essex Organic Gardeners – http://seeog.org.uk/
Southend In Transition Community Allotment – https://www.facebook.com/SiTcommunityAllotment/
Spiralseed – http://spiralseed.co.uk/

Disability Law Service – new website launched

The Disability Law Service (DLS) has launched a new website here: http://dls.org.uk We’re posting this up in solidarity with anyone who’s disabled and their carers, family and friends. Given the numerous shocking examples of the treatment of disabled claimants by the Department of Work & Pensions, this is the least we can do. The DLS rely on donations to be able to provide access to justice for those with disabilities and their carers, so if you can afford it, please donate…