As one of the co-founders of the Brixton Pound I’ve been involved in the project for the last 5 years. Over the last year, I’ve been working part-time engaging businesses with the scheme, a role which I left at the end of March 2013.
As I take a step back from the project (although of course I’ll still be involved as a volunteer and keen advocate) it’s a good time to reflect on what we’ve achieved and also what we’ve learnt.
I got involved with the B£ because I wanted to make money work differently. There are so many problems with current economic power, from the way banks work to the exploitation involved in global supply chains, and we wanted to create an alternative. The B£ aims to make money accountable to the local community and ask questions about where the stuff that we buy comes form – asking if it could be produced closer to home.
Have we achieved our aims? Well, there is lots to be proud of. You can now spend Brixton Pounds on your mobile, council staff can be part-paid in Brixton Pounds, there are over 250 businesses signed up to the scheme and you can even pay some local taxes in the currency.
Of course we would like it if B£s was better known and more widely used within Brixton. Many of the other changes are much more long-term. Shifting our economy so we produce more in Brixton isn’t going to happen overnight. In many cases the role of the Brixton Pound is to ask what businesses would like to buy locally, and what people who live in Brixton would like to be able to make.
And once you start looking there is so much potential in Brixton in terms of the skills and experiences that people have. I’ve met so many fantastic people – from the people who have ideas and family recipes that they are looking to trade – through to projects such as the Lambeth Poly growing salad leaves on the Tulse Hill estate and Brixton Energy who are generating solar on the Loughborough Estate.
It’s also been fantastic to get to know so many of the amazing local businesses that are keen to find more ways to support the local economy. We’ve been lucky to work with special local organisations such as the Market Traders Federation, numerous fantastic local charities, as well as Brixton Blog,Makerhood and many more. As there are more and more problems with the national economy and austerity continues we must continue to work together to create an economy that uses the talent Brixton has rather than pricing it out.
Although I’ll be less involved in the Brixton Pound it’s really just the beginning. The Brixton Pound is proud to be working with Lambeth council on a much bigger project looking at developing a Lambeth wide currency.
So, if you’ve not yet opened your Brixton Pound account or want to get involved as a volunteer or sign up as a business then do get in touch with either Jamey or Mehul on 07840 497544 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.