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…

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Working better together

There’s an amazing range of grassroots projects operating in this area. They range from community gardens and skill share initiatives through to resident run and managed local parks and open spaces. All of them in their own way contribute to the project of building a more just, sane and sustainable world that could eventually replace the decaying, dystopian one we currently have to endure.

One of the ideas that motivated building and holding the Southend Radical Fair that took place on May 6th this year was to facilitate networking between the grassroots projects in the area. Obviously, there’s a level of networking that already does take place and a number of groups do co-operate with each other – if that didn’t happen, the Southend Radical Fair would never have got off the ground!

The thing is, if we’re being honest, we’re only scratching the surface when it comes to networking and working together. Now don’t get us wrong, we are most definitely NOT calling for any kind of formal alliance! We’ve been there before in trying to meld a disparate range of radical groups and individuals in London into a semi-formal alliance and it didn’t work. We’re looking at a looser, more ad hoc arrangement where groups and people work together on specific projects or actions.

As well as this, we would love to see more in the way of skill sharing and mentoring between the different groups and people working on grassroots projects. There’s a tremendous wealth of knowledge out there ranging from how to organise and facilitate meetings, set up blogs and websites, produce papers and flyers through to building events such as the Southend Vegan Fair, managing a community allotment and in the case of Passionate About Hardie Park, managing a local park! If all of this could be shared, we would all be stronger and better placed to bring about meaningful change.

This is why we have set up The Estuary ALTERNATIVE blog and paper. As well as promoting and celebrating what grassroots community projects are doing, we want to use what we do as a place where we can share skills and experiences and grow stronger together. So, it’s over to you to make this happen!