Get your copy of the The Estuary Alternative paper

If you want to get hold of a copy of The Estuary Alternative paper and talk to us about what we want to achieve with this project, you’ll have your chance this coming weekend. On Saturday 16th, we’re going to outside the Southend Christmas Vegan Fair (Bellvue Baptist Church, 484 Southchurch Road, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 2QA) – https://www.facebook.com/southendveganfair/ – from 1pm onwards for a couple of hours. On Sunday 17th, we’re going to be at the Stop the Cliff Development Demonstration (Prittlewell Square, Southend-on-Sea, SS1 1DW) – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/protest-against-the-development-desecration-of-the-cliffs/ – from noon onwards. If we have any papers left over from the Saturday, we’ll be handing those out at the protest – if not, we’ve got flyers to hand out instead. We look forward to meeting as many of you as possible this coming weekend and to work out a way of taking this project forward in 2018…

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The future of this project…

The Estuary Alternative was launched after the Southend Radical Fair that took place back in May. The original aim of this project was to a) promote projects and actions offering a positive alternative to the dysfunctional political, social and economic system we currently have to endure and b) to act as a clearing house for an exchange of ideas, experiences and expertise between the various alternative / grassroots projects operating across southern Essex. The question we’re now asking ourselves is this – is the project achieving the aims we set out for it?

The harsh truth that has to be faced is that it’s falling well short of those aims. Apart from a small handful of groups sending us information about what they’re doing, we’re having to do a lot of the legwork to get content for this blog – we’re also having to do a lot of legwork to get The Estuary Alternative paper distributed as well. Regarding the paper, the current issue is a one off produced to get the ball rolling. If there’s going to be a second edition a) funding from grassroots groups across the region will be needed and b) content will also be needed as on the back of the current edition, we clearly state that we have no intention of writing any copy for the next edition!

This is supposed to be a collaborative project with the eventual goal of it being handed over to grassroots activists across southern Essex by the autumn of 2018. It’s still our intention to do this – however if by the summer of next year, we’re still doing most of the legwork in producing the content for this project, sadly we’ll have no alternative but to pull the plug on it. So, if grassroots activists across the region want an online resource (and a paper) where, ideas, experiences and expertise are exchanged as well as a diary for what’s going on, now is the time to step up to the plate and get involved…

We’ve had a bit of a slim down of the content on this blog as well… The reason being was that we felt it was turning into a bit of a lifestyle listings resource and straying from it’s original remit of covering and supporting ideas and actions aimed at building a new world inside the decaying shell of the dysfunctional and increasingly dystopian one we currently have to endure. In other words, it was getting too fluffy, and while there’s a place for that, it’s not in a project like this which is aimed at bringing about fundamental political, economic and social change.

We really do want this project to succeed but it has to be on the understanding that it’s a collaborative project. We’re going to be at the Southend Vegan Fair – https://www.facebook.com/southendveganfair/ – for a few hours on Saturday 16th handing out copies of The Estuary Alternative paper and talking to people about what we want to achieve. We’ll also be at the protest against the proposed development of the cliff top in Southend – https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/protest-against-the-development-desecration-of-the-cliffs/ – on Sunday 17th from noon onwards to hand out any papers that are left. We look forward to meeting people willing to join us in taking this project forward…

Fixfest in London

The more you look into the ethos of this, the more it’s subversive meaning becomes clear. It’s a road map to not only taking back ownership of the things we think we own but don’t really – it also exposes the grip the corporations have over us…

Southend Repair Cafe

Fixfest 2017 was a blend of practical advice with technical information, teeming with renegade action to bring about an international seed change and freedoms the consumers right to repair, in a fight back against the product “service contracts” which are all part and parcel of many goods which we purchase now, especially with the advent of the internet of things, eg wi-fi fridges and more worryingly pacemakers.

We went in a spirit of naivety and curiosity and were repaid with the gentle coaxing of the coaches and the amazing contributors who gave their expertise in abundance.  It was a humbling experience to realise how much there is for us to learn in the world of repair but equally how fortunate we are to have plugged in to this wealth of open source resources and guidance.

We caught the end of the mornings lighting talks, were we heard of a company…

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Thinking about where our food comes from

These are two useful and thought provoking pieces looking at and making us ask questions about where our food comes from, how it’s produced and what impact its production and distribution has on our environment. Basically, they both argue that we cannot carry on as we have been and that we have to take more collective and personal responsibility for producing our food. In their own different ways, these writings feed into our thinking about the need to encourage neighbourhood resilience in what is becoming an ever more uncertain world.

Local Food: On Personal Responsibilityhttps://permaculturenews.org/2017/03/10/local-food-personal-responsibility/

Who Will Feed Us? The Industrial Food Chain vs the Peasant Food Webhttp://etcgroup.org/content/who-will-feed-us-industrial-food-chain-vs-peasant-food-web

October ’17 Repair Cafe @ Shoebury Hub

This is the kind of practical, grassroots activity making a positive difference from skill sharing to sustainability through giving various items a longer use life that we love to promote…

After a hiatus due to a home move we were eager to get back into Repairing and for Octobers repair Cafe we were pleased to connect with the Malcolm, Brian and Chris of My Town Southend – https://www.mytownsouthend.com/ – @ the Shoebury hub who kindly offered, at stupendously short notice, to host the repair cafe in the wonderful community space they have created in what was originally the Unitarian Evangelical church. My Town Southend is all about promoting community cohesion, resilience and well being as opposed to extractive activities draining people and capital from the town. Needless to say we definitely sing from the same song sheet as them and are excited about one of their ideas to set up a Share shed at the hub which would sync in perfectly with the repair movement.

See here for the rest of the piece: https://southendrepaircafe.wordpress.com/2017/10/03/october-17-repair-cafe-shoebury-hub/

What is ‘Liberation Permaculture’

Is permaculture about re-creating Eden or about changing the world in every way, even politically? Graham Burnett and Nicole Vosper make the case for a politically engaged, ‘liberation permaculture’ – https://www.permaculture.co.uk/articles/what-liberation-permaculture

This is from two people we have a lot of respect for making the case for a permaculture that will bring about fundamental social change as opposed to one that’s simply a lifestyle choice made by people who want to opt out of the modern world but who have no real interest in changing it. It’s an old piece but one that’s probably even more relevant now than when it was written, given the narrative of change coming from an individual altering their lifestyle as opposed to more politically conscious collective endeavours that seek to not only challenge but overthrow the system. It’s about siding with the oppressed and showing solidarity for their struggles for liberation as opposed to a lifestyle change that simply makes you feel good but does sod all to overthrow a system that is moving well beyond it’s use by date.

The Estuary Alternative is back from the printer

We would like to extend our thanks to Oxford GreenPrint for a superb print job and swift delivery of the paper. Distribution of this will start in Southend tomorrow, including venues such as The Railway in Clifftown Road. Given the kind of paper this is – celebrating and promoting grassroots community projects – we won’t be delivering it door-to-door as we want to make sure each and every copy gets into the hands of people who want to make a change in this area.

So, if you support the aims of this blog and paper and want to take a small bundle to hand out to friends, family and neighbours, feel free to get in touch and we’ll sort something out. Also, if you know of or frequent a venue that you think will be sympathetic to what we’re trying to achieve, let us know and we’ll get the papers in there.

As we’ve stated and written before, we really do want to make this a collaborative project, giving a voice to all of the grassroots community projects operating in the area. The headline on the paper is ‘Working better together’. The aim is to encourage the development of an informal network of groups who help each other out as and when necessary, share experiences and skills and end up becoming considerably greater than the sum of their parts. So, it’s over to you to build on what we already have and build something that can start to bring about real, meaningful change…