Reasons to be cheerful – positive happenings in East London
There are some very promising things happening in East London at the moment. From social initiatives looking to revolutionise how we get our energy to small businesses sourcing locally and investing their profits back into the area through charities. Here are a few of the projects, both recent and well established, that have captured our imagination.
HACKNEY ENERGY – REPOWERING LONDON
Getting off our addiction to fossil fuels will drastically help the environment and reduce health issues brought about by air pollution. Being free of the grid has the added advantage of relinquishing us from the prices of the big six energy companies. Sounds good right? Repowering London have brought their community driven Solar Power society to Hackney.
Banister House Estate on Homerton High Street is now home to Banister House Solar, which went live on Saturday (3rd Oct) at 1pm. We wish them the best of luck.
The Society offers an exciting new opportunity for individuals to support the generation of solar power in Hackney and to contribute to wider action to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. The project development has been funded and supported by Hackney Council and follows the success of the award-winning schemes in Brixton.
Banister House Solar have installed 102 kWp of solar electric (photovoltaic) panels on the roof of 14 housing blocks on the Banister House Estate in Hackney. The solar array is expected to save approximately 36.7 tonnes of carbon dioxide every year (679 over the next twenty years) by replacing electricity that would otherwise be generated by coal and gas power stations.
SPITALFIELDS CITY FARM – LOCAL FOOD
As well as hosting the annual Oxford Cambridge Goat race, Spitalfields City Farm has been providing locally grown food and a little slice of rural life in the city for nearly four decades.
Situated on a former railway goods depot, it’s the nearest city farm to the square mile. It began in 1978 in response to local people’s wishes to convert wasteland into allotments, having lost theirs to developers. With a long tradition in the East End of backyard farming, it wasn’t long before chickens, rabbits and geese appeared on the scene.
As the farm gained momentum and status, it began to attract local borough funding and was able to begin employing staff and developing links with the wider community. The farm gained charitable status in 1980 and has since developed into a project providing a wide range of activities and opportunities to the local community and visiting groups.
Receiving over 18,000 visitors a year and spread over 1.3 acres of land owned by the London Borough of Tower Hamlets and Railtrack, the farm keeps a selection of farm animals and has developed growing areas in every available space.
HACKNEY HERBAL – COMMUNITY BASED ETHICAL BUSINESS
Hackney Herbal is a project run by Hackney based community interest company Cordwainers Grow, who specialise in projects and events which bring people and their natural environment together in a collaborative and creative way.
Hackney Herbal is centered around growing and harvesting herbs around (you guessed it) Hackney, which will be used to create a locally-produced tea blend. The money raised from the sale of the tea blends will be put towards projects in Hackney that focus on health and well-being, organised in partnership with the Centre for Better Health.
TREW ERA CAFE – GRASSROOTS ACTIVISM
Located opposite Hackney’s New Era housing estate is Trew Era cafe, to which Russell Brand donated the profits from his book Revolution. Brand gave vocal backing to the New Era campaign against eviction in the estate, where landlords intended to treble the rent for existing tenants. According to Brand, the cafe is a permanent symbol of the victory of a grassroots movement over corporate interests; a place for the people of the New Era estate to gather for social and political purposes, while also contributing to the community.
Keeping up their community focussed, new-aged look at London life, the cafe offers music nights, meditation and advice sessions on subjects such as internet privacy and using cryptocurrencies. “Nutters and revolutionaries especially welcome,” were the words of Russell Brand when he launched the Trew Era cafe in March.
BOW ARTS TRUST – SUPPORTING ARTISTS
In June, Bow Arts Trust relocated their headquarters to a Grade II-listed Pennington Street Studio – the former home of Rupert Murdoch’s News International, where they’ve created 79 new studios known as the Rum factory to offer affordable space to 90 artists in Wapping.
Tate Director Sir Nicholas Serota said of the charity – “The kind of enterprise that Bow Arts represents is really crucial to the future of the creative arts.”
“What’s remarkable about Bow is the way they not only provide space for artists but also place artists in the community.”
Bow Arts is one of the country’s leading Arts, Education and Studio Charities, an award winning social enterprise and one of east London’s great success stories. It earned this reputation through its long standing relationship with its local communities, which has grown over 20 years and has been a major influence in establishing Bow at the heart of the thriving London’s Artist Quarter.
If you know any emerging East End artists, point them to Bow Art’s opportunities page.
Do you have suggestions of others who should make it onto the ‘reasons to be cheerful’ list? Let us know, we’d love to hear about the projects and companies you feel are doing business the right way.
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