Friday, 26 February 2010

Day trip to the Brixton Project

Well Laura and I arrived safely back from big London town last night after our research day trip to the Brixton Village Project. We met with Dougald Hind founder of the Spacemakers Agency, the driving force behind the project who gave us a guided tour and an amazing insight into the project. So what did we find learn?

Well after a hearty breakfast in the local greasy spoon we got down to business and began shopping......sorry researching! Brixton has a busy local market community and at the heart of it sits the Granville arcade, however like many of the nations arcades many of the shops have gradually become empty over the years and in desperate need of a little TLC. But thanks to the Spacemakers Agency and their work in bringing life into the empty spaces this little market arcade is thriving once more. The market has a mix of original stalls selling fruit, vegetables & fish alongside the new cafes, restaurants, galleries, workshops and boutique shops.

Laura and I met with Dougald inside the Brixton Cornercopia (a great little cafe which even produces its very own Brixton Brown Sauce which you can only buy with the Brixton Pound!) and had a chat about the project including some of the difficulties in making a project like this happen as well as the great successes and the growing weekly visitors. We also spoke about ARK and the trials and tribulations of establishing a network and what we had achieved so far. Reassuringly Dougald had gone through a similar experience and passed on a few handy tips which we can share with you next Wednesday. We were then given a full guided tour and were introduced to some of the owners and creators.

A true testament to the community spirit was the many co-owned shops and spaces such as The Wonderful World of... this lovely little shop had a quirky mix of renovated furniture, fair trade clothing and hand-made lanterns. Like many of the shops they also run workshops encouraging visitors to 'get involved' and become part of the market community. We also popped into Workshop where they sell a range of  products made from reused and recycled fabrics plus you can try your hand at sewing and upcycling your own clothes, or for the little ones check out the Okido doodle shop.

What was clear was that community integration and involvement at every stage was key ensuring both the new and old tenants could work alongside and support each other. Weekly meetings have become a key part of the process encouraging face to face communication to help build and maintain the community. Dougald and the team are doing an amazing job in facilitating and coordinating the project and the commitment by all is truly inspiring!

So a big thanks to Dougald and everyone we met for being so open and helpful, it will be a big help with our own empty space project and if you are interested in getting involved come and chat to us next wednesday in CAI (we are the ones with the pink socia-bull)

1 comment:

  1. looks like a really interesting and useful visit. i'm quite jealous ladies!