If you want change, you can start here…

Our next Creating A Positive Revolution course is being run in partnership with METAL Southend – begins Feb 20th, bookings now being taken! https://spiralseed.co.uk/product/creating-positive-revolution/

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A return to seasonal food?

You don’t need us to tell you that the cost of food is going up. As the world becomes ever more volatile and unpredictable, the need for people to start growing their own food is becoming greater. This can be done in a variety of ways from setting up community gardens or allotments through to turning over part or even all of your back garden to growing your own fruit and vegetables. Even though the need for more self sufficiency in food is increasing, it doesn’t have to turn into a grim struggle for survival… Vegetable and fruit gardening is a healthy, enjoyable activity – even more so when it’s done communally and becomes an activity that’s sociable and increases neighbourhood cohesion.

However, as you’ll gather from the above graphic, growing your own food means a return to a seasonal diet. That’s not bad news – as you can see, there’s a fair variety that can be grown for each season. Not only that, you have the sense of anticipation when a particular food is about to come into season!

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

Quietly subversive…

The more you think about the points raised in the above info-graphic from ifixit.comhttps://www.ifixit.com/ – the the more you see how subversive this is in making people question their assumptions about the consumer society we live in. Basically, we don’t really own a lot of the stuff we use because when it breaks or fails, we have to take it back to the supplier for ‘repair’ or replacement. This is about turning the tables and starting to put us in control:)

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…

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…