Category: Neighbourhood Resilience

It’s starting to happen

Following on from a post about the troubled ¾ estate in Vange on our sister blog, The South Essex STIRRER: The fightback starts herehttps://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/08/02/the-fightback-starts-now/ – as you can see from the flyer depicted above, things are starting to move in a positive direction. If you live on the ¾ estate or nearby in Vange and feel you want to make a positive contribution to your community, get in touch using the contact details shown on the flyer and get stuck in:) There’s a lot of work that needs to be done to improve the estate and no one’s pretending it’s going to be an easy task – however, the more people who step up to the plate, the greater the chances are of achieving success…

Positive developments in Vange

Our sister blog, The South Essex STIRRER has had plenty to say on the problems afflicting the ¾ estate in Vange: Where the new town dream has died…https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/07/06/where-the-new-town-dream-has-died/ and: Eight weeks!https://southessexstirrer.wordpress.com/2017/07/11/eight-weeks/ Both of these posts have an analysis of how the problems developed with some indications as to how they can be tackled.

What The Estuary Alternative is partly about is promoting and celebrating community based groups who are doing their level best to make a difference at the grassroots. When it comes to the ¾ estate, there are some positive developments to report. Firstly, there’s the Vange Hill Community Grouphttps://www.facebook.com/groups/180311358699122/ – who are lobbying Basildon Council and Circle Anglia Housing (who are responsible for much of the social housing on the estate) to pull their finger out and do the job they’re paid to do. They also encourage residents to take more responsibility for keeping the estate clean. Then there’s The Plot (Vange Hill Drive Community Allotment)https://www.facebook.com/theplotvange/ who as the title of the Facebook group suggests, run a community allotment next to the estate. We’re big fans of community allotments: Get digging!https://theestuaryalternative.wordpress.com/2017/05/27/get-digging/ as they help with neighbourhood resilience through building solidarity and providing self sufficiency as well as being a source of healthy food and an opportunity for exercise. Last but by no means least there’s Basildon & Southend Housing Actionhttps://www.facebook.com/basacton/ – who see their role as facilitating and offering practical and logistical support to groups such as Vange Hill Community Group.

Turning around the fortunes of the ¾ estate is a massive undertaking and no one is under any illusions that it’s going to be a long slog. However, as you can see from the above, the elements are in place on the ground to start to make a real difference, creating the community spirit that’s needed to make a difference to people’s lives…watch this space for developments…

SiT Community Allotment Taster Days Sun 09/07/2017 10-14 presented by Southend in Transition

Here’s your chance to find out what Southend In Transition Community Allotment do – if you’re interested in growing your own food as an individual or as a neighbourhood project, there’s a lot you can learn from SiTCA…

Southend in Transition Community Allotment

Southend in Transition Community Allotment
(entrance to allotments off Hamstel Road – Garon’s end – opposite fish and chips Plaice to Be)

Where you can learn how to grow food, look after your garden, take fresh produce home, meet new people over a shared meal and exchange ideas on how to help the community thrive.

Taster Days – Volunteers and public welcome

Sun 09/07 10-14

Gardening, watering and lots of vit D:), the Big Bee Count – spot them and record them.

Sun 23/07 10-14

Gardening and a bit more of citizen science – the Big Bug Hunt – spot them and record them


Other events locally:

Transition Drinks – 27/07 Thur 19:00 Olde Trout Tavern

Village Green Festival 08/07 Sat 11-9PM

SEEOG Talk – 17/07 Mon 8PM Growing Together Westcliff – The future of organic seed

Learning opportunities

Compost making

Wise watering

Soil fertility

Weeding

DIY:

water catchment and…

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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

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/