June 2nd saw the doors of Brixton East open to welcome all to the first LambethLEF (Lambeth Local Entrepreneurs Forum) a think tank for a community-supported local economy – the REconomy.
The REconomy project is part of the Transition Network, a global grassroots movement of communities seeking to strengthen their resilience to problems including climate change, rising energy prices, economic uncertainty and inequality.
Many of ‘us locals’ are already engaged in enterprises that adhere to these principles, so LambethLEF unites us and sets this community-based movement firmly in motion.
In the early afternoon ‘pitched themes’ were explored between discussion groups: my quest was to learn what people have to share – this resulted in our next plan for a Blue Patch pin-board for matchmaking ‘skills’. The sharing site streetbank was recommended, however The Library of Things and The Remakery (more about these later) also enable sharing.
Other topics included how to educate local businesses about best practice for saving carbon, raising investment and crowd funding.
There was a delicious locally made buffet served at 6pm, getting everyone stoked up for the 7pm session. The keynote speaker Rob Hopkins ( Transition Town Network) gave an informative and inspiring talk on why the economy needed people like us to trade at a local level – increasing the ‘value’ of money (the multiplier effect) by keeping it in circulation, not squirrelled away in tax havens.
The entrepreneurs pitching for support were: Kitchen Table Projects (don’t miss their Artisan Springboard at Old Street Station), Spiral, The Remakery (become a shareholder – it’s only £1) and The Library of Things.
Finally, Blue Patch members The Grain Grocer provided an endearing pitch – do visit them at Crystal Palace Market on Saturday and stock up your store cupboard with fresh organic foods – oh yes and they need a shop in Herne Hill – any one have one? We wish we could squeeze them into our office!
The ‘asks’ from our local entrepreneurs included following them on social media, attending their events, buying their goods and volunteering skills, marketing and financial support!
Here’s some responses to the event:
“It’s people that make the world go round, not money (obviously that helps though!) The Lambeth Entrepreneur Forum event was such a wonderful way for us to really get involved in our community, to get behind new organisations that we hope will help to build the sort of world we want to live in.” Robyn Parker from Archie Mac London
“A really good event helping to capture the many enterprising options available to start-ups and those with business ideas”. Nadia Jones from the London Youth Support Trust.
“I thought the event a great success and as The Funding Network has been running live crowdfunding events for local communities across the country for the last 13 years – I wouldn’t say that lightly! Live crowdfunding by it’s nature provides people with the enriching experience of giving together. Which is why is it is powering to witness an event where collectively we can affect positive social change on a much bigger scale than we could ever do on our own. It was so inspiring to see so many Lambeth residents come together and pool their power, passion and pounds for 5 truly innovative local start-ups.” Charlotte Milner-Barry, TFN.
“I was inspired by how much support the community has to offer to the kind of businesses we want in Lambeth. I now believe we can create a local economy that will help meet our current and future needs and prevent the borough from becoming a series of ‘clone towns’.” Sue Sheehan, Lambeth Council.
“The question I travelled to the Lambeth LEF with was “is the Local Entrepreneurs Forum an idea that will only work in Totnes?” I returned home knowing that the answer is an emphatic “no”! The Lambeth LEF was an amazing, heartwarming, inspiring taste of the New Economy in practice. It was delightful how many people, in conversations with me afterwards, were already talking about “next year”. It already feels like an annual event, and I can’t wait until next year!” Rob Hopkins, Co-founder of the Transition Town Network.
Read Rob’s blog Transition Culture.
“It was an evening of alchemy, where people discovered that ‘anyone can be investor’ of anything, from hugs to hard cash, in having the local economy they want in Lambeth. All day the room was full of great ideas, positivity, generosity and it is not too strong to say, love. It was inspiring to see what we are capable of when we pull together. Solidarity, cooperation, great ideas, will help us build a resilient, rich, future and reclaim our community and REconomy from corporate take-over. This rethought, relocalised, reconnected REconomy is central to all Transition Town Brixton’s work. And it can engage everyone as the Local Entrepreneur Forum showed.” Duncan Law.
LambethLEF was organised by Duncan Law (TTBrixton, Brixton Pound, Brixton Energy….), Susan Sheehan (Senior Policy Officer at Lambeth Council, mover and shaker), Marta Owczarek (B£), and Noemi Dulischewski (previously of the Lambeth Food Partnership, now of bruench). LambethLEF would like to thank Matthew Watt of Hot Milk Films, Warren Malone of Penguins with Freckles. The food was organised and prepared by Binki and Iliana of Snugg-Brixton, with salads foraged from the Loughborough Farm, elderflower cordial from Father Nature, and fab split pea curry from Saba. The LEFderflower Pale Ale was brewed with foraged elderflower from Brockwell Park by Brixton Brewery.
The crowd were captured on camera by local photographers and Blue Patch Founder Members, Alice and Anna (In The Right Light Photography).