Encouraging bees to return

Bees are a vital part of our ecosystem. Their numbers are in decline and that will have serious consequences for our ecosystem which we rely upon to sustain our lives. If you run a community garden and/or have access to your own garden, without wanting to sound preachy, you have a responsibility to ensure it’s bee friendly. The graphic above offers a few simple ideas on what can be incorporated into a garden to ensure it’s bee friendly and playing a part in supporting a healthy ecosystem.

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Happening on Saturday 26th May – Southend Vegan Fair

Thorpe Greenways School, Greenways, Southend on Sea, SS1 2 Southend-on-Sea
10am – 5pm

Southend Vegan Fair returns and is now at a bigger venue with indoor and outdoor space for up to 100 stalls!

Expect loads of great vegan food, animal rights stalls, talks, clothing, health products and make up products!

Copies of The Estuary Alternative paper and a variety of other papers, pamphlets and flyers produced by us (and others) will be available on the Vegan Army Surplus stall which will be outside in the school grounds at the fair. Look forward to seeing you all there:)

Southend Soup: Green Living

Saturday May 19th: 13:00–16:00

Kings Road United Reformed Church, 91 Crowstone Road, SS0 8LH Southend-on-Sea

ESSENTIAL TO BOOK TICKETS VIA THE EVENTBRITE LINK. WE NEED TO KNOW HOW MUCH SOUP TO MAKE!

EVENT IS £5 OR WHAT YOU CAN AFFORD/WANT TO PAY. KIDS ARE FREE!

Soups are fun community events with an element of crowdfunding:
Three or four 5-minute pesentations from people/small groups needing a small amount of funding. Ideas can be related to community, art or business. Everyone votes for their favourite idea and the winner gets a pot of money – usually around £150-£250 (sometimes more!) Submit your idea here: http://southendsoup.co.uk/submit-a-good-idea/

Funding comes from the donations on the day – so it’s important to pay if you’re able to.

Hosts Kings Road URC are working towards their Silver Eco-Church award, hence the Green Living theme. So;

* If you are part of a group that helps people live in a sustainable way, we can set up a table so you can talk to people. Let us know in advance if you’d like to do this: SherryFuller@Hotmail.co.uk

* Likewise if you make stuff that helps with recycling, reduces plastic or waste, is organic, fair trade, animal-friendly, or otherwise fits in with the eco theme, come talk about what you do and sell your wares/share your stuff or ideas. (As above, get in touch if you want a table.)

* Don’t bring plastic if you can avoid it! Cloth bags, reusable water bottles.

THINGS TO BRING:

* The venue is a Trussel Trust Foodbank, so feel free to bring donations. UHT milk, juices, sponge puddings, Smash (easy mash potato), squash and tinned pies are always needed (but not beans – they have loads!)

* There are bowls at the venue, but it can be useful to bring your own in case we get lots of visitors!

* Musical instruments as there’s usually a jam to join in with!

* Entertainment for kids (and kids-at-heart!)

* Donations for The Kindness Exchange who do a trolley-run of Southend’s rough sleepers: spray deodorant, boxer shorts, comfy women’s pants, socks, wet wipes, hand sanitiser, tampons/towels, toothpaste/toothbrushes.

See you there!

The Leigh Folk Festival needs your help

If the Leigh Folk Festival is going to continue it’s success, it needs volunteers to help the event run smoothly. As you can see from the leaflet above, there’s a wide range of tasks that need to be undertaken over the weekend the festival takes place so there should be something to suit you. This is not a commercial event – it’s a community run festival which in our view, is infinitely preferable. If you can spare the time, please show you care by volunteering for a few hours to help make the festival an enjoyable event for all attending.

Forthcoming beach cleans

There are a fair few of us who want to change the world with some practical action – these events should fit the bill:) Basically, it’s people power getting the beaches cleaned around Southend!

Southend Beach Care Grouphttps://www.facebook.com/southendbeachcare/

Saturday 12th May | 9.30-11.00am | Billy Hundreds, Eastern Esplanade, Southend-on-Sea

Please join to clean up the strand line along Eastern Esplanade. This area suffers from plastic nasties getting tangled up in the seaweed. Let’s capture this litter before it get washed out to sea again. We will also be launching Southend’s first 2 Minute Beach Clean Board at Billy Hundreds. All equipment provided, everyone welcome.

Marine Conservation Society

You will need to register as a volunteer to then sign up to the event – https://www.mcsuk.org/beachwatch/user/register

If you have any questions about how to register for Beachwatch and need support, please call 01989 566 017 or email: beachwatch@mcsuk.org

Sunday 17th June | Chalkwell Beach | 10.00-11.30am
Meeting location: Area below ramp from Chalkwell Station & stairs from Esplanade parking

Sunday 16th September | Chalkwell Beach | 11.00am-12.30pm
Meeting location: Area below ramp from Chalkwell Station & stairs from Esplanade parking

A diversity of tactics

This piece was first published on our sister blog, On Uncertain Ground. We’re re-posting it here because in our opinion, what’s discussed is very relevant to the kind of grassroots action we actively support.

The way we (South Essex Stirrer and Basildon & Southend Housing Action) operate depends very much on the circumstances prevailing at the time and the task in hand. In the case of the ¾ estate in Vange, those tactics are a mixture of lobbying, propaganda, education and direct action. Our ultimate aim is the empowerment of people on a working class estate so they reach a point where they will embrace our project of radical political, social and economic change. Obviously, we’re a long way from that point and have to work from where we are.

An immediate aim is the improvement of conditions on the estate. That involves a mixture of facilitating residents in lobbying Basildon Council, Essex County Council and the various housing associations to do their job properly on the one hand and community clean ups and guerilla gardening on the other. These activities are supported with propaganda in the form of posts on the South Essex Stirrer. We also produce the occasional leaflet and flyer and have plans for a newsletter in the long term.

Our long term aim is empowerment of the residents and we work very closely with the Vange Hill Community Group in achieving this. The aspirations for the estate are expressed here: A better future for the ¾ estate in Vange. Essentially what we are trying to achieve is starting to build a new world in the shell of the decaying, dysfunctional and dystopian one we currently endure. That can only be done from the grassroots upwards.

Working at the grassroots with people who in the main are fairly apolitical but also cynical about what politicians at local and national level can offer presents an interesting mix of challenges and opportunities. The challenges are that with people being apolitical, their views are formed by a combination of life experiences, how they discuss issues with friends, family and neighbours and to a certain extent, from the media. Which often means it’s hard to pin people down on any particular part of the political spectrum. One person can be pretty progressive on some issues but on others, may have a bit of a reactionary take.

We could through our toys out of the pram and walk away in a huff on encountering reactionary sentiments but as we’ve already written before, that won’t achieve anything: A few words on how we work. On the propaganda front, this is how we try to resolve contentious issues: A few thoughts on neighbourhood community halls. Regarding the issue dealt with in this piece, negotiations are underway between the parties concerned with the aim of coming to a resolution.

As for facilitating the lobbying of councils, we realise that the more purist anarchists will see us as little more than a neighbourhood pressure group. We’re not and here’s why. The key is the use of the word facilitating. We facilitate the Vange Hill Community Group in lobbying by offering support, advice and logistical backing as and when necessary. Regarding the lobbying, it’s generally aimed at the council officers responsible for a particular service on the estate with the two wards councillors (both Labour) being copied in. There have been occasional sightings of the two ward councillors but efforts to constructively engage with them have rarely been successful.

When lobbying pays off with a result, it empowers those involved in it to not just carry on but also to become more ambitious in their demands. As this lobbying proceeds and the barriers to what can be squeezed out of a council are hit, we use our propaganda to place in context what most people instinctively understand about the limits of the state in an age of permanent austerity. It’s a combination of empowerment and political education that we’re doing our level best to implement.

Then there’s the direct action. Which in the case of the ¾ estate in Vange, is a combination of community clean ups and guerilla gardening. With the community clean ups there is some degree of co-operation with Basildon Council in that we’ll tell them we’re having one, there will be sacks of rubbish and other bulkier items for them to collect when we’ve done and generally that’s what they do. When it comes to the guerilla gardening on the estate, we just get on with it and don’t even think about asking for permission.

At all times we bear in mind our ultimate aim of radical political, social and economic change. We realise that getting to the point where that can start to happen is a long journey – we’re in this for the long haul. There’s no single, easily defined route to get to that point. It’s a case of nurturing quite a few different strands and over time, gradually bringing them together and picking up momentum along the way. Which is why we deploy a variety of tactics to support our overall strategy.

Getting to where we want to be is a learning curve and there’s a lot of trial and error and subsequent reassessment of strategy and tactics along the way. We’re happy for what we do to be open for constructive criticism and discussion.

Community gardening in Laindon

As well as facilitating the Vange Hill Community Group with community cleans up and guerilla gardening on the ¾ estate in Vange, Basildon & Southend Housing Action have also been involved for a number of years in working with residents on the Nursery Gardens estate in Laindon to maintain a community garden. These images were taken after the first major planting and maintenance session of the spring last weekend.

As well as flowers to brighten up the estate, this particular garden has a more serious vegetable growing side to it as well. On an estate where some residents experience issues with food poverty, a community garden dedicated to food production does make a positive difference. It’s these kind of localised vegetable growing beds that we eventually want to see springing up across the ¾ estate in Vange. We’re showing the image above to prove that it can be done on an informal basis.

It can also be done on a more formal setting as this Incredible Edible supported community plot on Mill Green near the shops on the Chalvedon estate in Basildon shows…
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The point is that with increasing food poverty and the uncertainty over food supply that could result from Brexit, there is a need for community gardens that provide fresh food. Not only that, maintaining a garden like this is a good way of building solidarity and neighbourhood resilience.