On 7 December we held an initial, informal conversation with local stakeholders in Brixton, including: Kristina Glushkova from Makerhood, Tom Skakhli from Brixton Pound, Colin Crooks from Tree Shepherd, Giles Gibson from Original Thinking Group and Bex Trevalyan from Impact Hub Brixton. These are some of the key learnings and questions that came out of this meeting:
In relations to spaces:
Consider the possibility of using spaces that go beyond just four walls and a roof (e.g. Windrush Square) and make sure to include spaces that are in danger (e.g. libraries)
- Look at utilisation in existing assets and how this can be increased to the benefit of local community (e.g. using schools outside of hours, shared kitchens etc.)
Bring in Brixton Market traders and look at the spaces they might potentially need or share, or that are currently under-utilised.
In relations to outcomes:
- It’s about creating jobs and other measurable “hard data”, but also about life transformation and giving people experiences that can change their lives
- Have a look at the Council’s social value & outcomes model (Lambeth Council’s Community Plan 2013-16)
- Look at a variety of user journeys (what are the archetypical case study types)
- Could one of the outcomes be that the buyer market (of the businesses that are supported by Brixton Works) isn’t only the people driving gentrification, but that it’s something that benefits people locally?
- How do we make sure that there continues to be spaces that provide affordable opportunities for socialising and congregation, e.g. your £3 soup that many different people can enjoy?
In relations to process:
- How do we take 300,000 prospective users and create a container where their voices can be heard in a productive way?
- We need to be really transparent and make this a public conversation.
Make sure to set out the parameters from the onset and be honest and clear about what’s on the table.
- Make it clear who we are (the persons behind it) as well as who we have spoken to along the way. Keep a conversation log (like this blog).
Aim to include the perspective of people who are not necessarily beneficiaries of Brixton Works
Make sure to speak with other people beyond “just us”, like soup kitchens and food banks
Follow on with another session with a wider group.
In relations to governance and co-investment:
If we do this right this could be a vehicle that gets a lot of co-investment, including from actors beyond Brixton (which is great). But we also need to consider how we make sure that the return of investment is kept locally.
Don’t over-focus on the big vision/ambition, but make sure you get buy-in and commitment from the Council early on by focusing on deliverables and figures.
- If we manage to bring in match-funding / investment into Brixton Works from other organisations with social missions it can help create a wider group of (financial) stakeholders, which will help to balance the governance of the vehicle
Make it clear that Brixton Works is ambitious and create a policy for how it approaches entrepreneurship and community. Not every part has to be a manifesto, but more a question of “this is how we do it”.