Tag Archives: community

The Whistler – January 2010

West Hill N-ice Man - Photo by Mark Baynes
West Hill N-ice Man - Photo by Mark Baynes


As the rest of the country shivered in December and January, community spirit warmed the residents of West Hill. Despite the weather conditions, a great number of people turned out to celebrate the holidays at the Christmas Party and the Carol Concert in West Hill Hall. This same community spirit led to innovative fun on January 9 when the icy slopes of West Hill Road became a tea-tray run for a number of neighbours and their hardy little ones, turning snowy adversity into a pleasurable event, having sealed the bottom of the hill with a barrier to prevent cars spoiling the fun (they weren’t attempting to venture up there any way).

Congratulations to Vinod and Meena of Bright News, who celebrate their 25th year of serving West Hill. Their never-failing value to the community was demonstrated as Vinod battled indefatigably through the snow and ice-clad roads, starting off from his home at 6am for the one hour journey to the shop, a drive which usually takes him 10 minutes. While the Co-op shelves ran short of vital supplies, Vinod managed to ensure continuity of supply, and the ever-cheerful James continued to provide freshly baked bread and personal food deliveries to those more vulnerable residents who could not venture out in the treacherous conditions.

Aren’t we lucky to live in such a great community? Let’s hear it for our West Hill heroes. To those of our many readers outside the area – may you have as much good fortune where you live.

Transition Brighton & Hove

FOODSECURITYTransition Brighton & Hove is part of an international network now in 30 countries (www.transitiontowns.org) that originated in Totnes, Devon in 2006 with the aim of generating a positive and practical community response to the challenges and opportunities of climate change and diminishing oil supplies: the one threatens human and all other life, and the other brings with it oil price increases or fluctuations and subsequent economic crises – unless we leave oil before, or as, it leaves us.

In doing this we bring together the collective skills and creativity of people in Brighton & Hove to evolve a positive, sustainable future, and develop the resilience locally to survive effectively in the uncertain times ahead. We combine a sense of urgency with hope and realism – awareness raising with vision building. Planning and action that leads to positive examples that encourages others. We seek to include everyone interested and to help the most vulnerable. We aim to empower and inspire them to make their own plans and carry out actions based on the best information available on risks and on practical, affordable solutions, drawn from our own and other networks. In return we share with others our local successes and learning.

We currently have around 600 people on our mailing list locally, and are linked to other transition movements across Sussex and the South East as well as around the country (nearly 200 in the UK, not counting other groups not formally part of us). Our active members are involved in city-wide project groups (in the areas of energy, transport, food, buildings, housing, waste as resources, local economic resilience, and personal resilience and quality of life). These often require the co-operation of other community groups, centres of knowledge in our universities, our city council officers and members, and local businesses. We also work with local groups in streets, apartment blocks, schools, colleges, work organiations and residents associations, to support them with their concerns, aims and plans. We run workshops and public talks as well as DVD showings.

Our next public talk is on food security: why we need a plan by Patrick Holden, Director, The Soil Association, Wednesday 21st October, 7pm for 7.30 start, till 9.30pm at Brighthelm Centre, North Road , Brighton BN1 1YD. Tickets £4 at door. Come along and invite your friends to join you. This is an increasingly relevant issue for us all.

On the 24 October the West Hill Hall is hosting the AGM and second birthday party of Transition Brighton and Hove, a local group which aims to provide a grassroots community response to the twin challenges of climate change and peak oil. “The AGM will start from 1pm and has been set up to deal with some of the big decisions. TB&H needs to make – electing people into roles, deciding how to spend our new grant and deciding goals for the year ahead. Following this, our 2nd Birthday party will start from 7pm. Join us as we celebrate our success with music, dancing and good food.”

Shakespeare 2012

ShakespeareThe Brighton & Sussex Branch of the Actors’ Union Equity recently welcomed actor, Ian Flintoff, to their regular monthly meeting where he brought members up-to-date with the plans for a national celebration of Shakespeare, planned before the Olympic bid was won, and now set to co-incide with the 2012 Olympics. Members were inspired by Ian’s boundless enthusiasm for his subject. Clearly, he’s a man who cares deeply about creating something extraordinary, something that could change the way the public thinks about theatre, but he’s also determined to do it in a way that means it is not just a vehicle for a few stars and some high profile companies. It would be relatively easy to focus on a few big theatres and some big stars, but Ian wants to do it the hard way – in schools and local communities – all over the nation.

“I am very excited by this project,” said Johnny Worthy, the branch’s chair. Ian Flintoff seems to have spoken to half the nation about this project already. Ask him a question about what he wants to achieve and he’ll reel you off a list of interested parties, chance encounters and potential targets. And it is not just the great and the good – although he can casually pull from his briefcase letters of support from Prince Charles or 10 Downing Street – the things that get him really excited are the anecdotes about working in schools or persuading a group of young Muslim girls to perform Gertrude’s speech from Hamlet or blagging his way into a Council office to try and persuade arts officers in Preston that their town’s (perhaps tenuous) link with the Bard means they have a duty to get involved in Shakespeare 2012.

The plan was to have the first ever historic Shakespeare celebration – a stand-alone event which was then called Shakespeare 2010. They sent the suggestion to Tony Blair, the then Prime Minister, at Number 10. The response was positive and the idea was passed on to the Department of Culture, Media and Sport who discussed it and liked it very much. Linking it to the Olympic bid seemed like a good idea. The official bid document submitted by London included a pledge that there would be an international Shakespeare festival as part of the Olympics. There has been support in Parliament, including an Early Day Motion put forward by Susan Kramer MP:

“…this House applauds and supports continuing plans within the arts community first put forward by Equity to instigate a nationwide Great British Shakespeare Event to coincide with the Olympics in 2012; acknowledges the proud tradition of the Olympic Games in ancient Athens to combine sport with the great dramas of Sophocles, Euripides and Aeschylus; recognises the unprecedented cultural opportunity of reviving and honouring that tradition in Britain across all ages, faiths, cultures and social groups by celebrating the works of the man widely acknowledged to be our greatest playwright; recognises the tremendous boost this would give not only to the arts community but also to tourism; and calls on the Government to support, encourage and promote grass-roots plans to take forward this celebration.”

Consequently, the Royal Shakespeare Company is in the early stages of planning their ‘World Shakespeare Festival’ which will encompass London, Stratford and Newcastle and there are plans for the Globe to hold events. Ian’s ambitions for Shakespeare 2012 include a grassroots network that is spread across the whole country. “What we’d like to happen is the first really big national jamboree of Shakespeare, something that’s such fun that it takes that feeling of elitism and the idea that it’s just a school subject away from the plays,” Ian said. “We’d like to think that Equity will play a prominent role – we’ve got so many members and a big network across the country – in tapping into local theatres and trying to persuade them to do, say, three professional plays – a comedy, a tragedy and a history – in 2012. We must talk to councils and local arts and educations officers and bring Shakespeare to cities, towns and villages.”

Shakespeare by  John-Paul Flintoff
Shakespeare by John-Paul Flintoff

He is asking Equity branches and regional committees to establish Shakespeare 2012 networks – bringing together all those interested in promoting the event – and to appoint ‘Shakespeare 2012 Champions’ who will promote the campaign to local theatres, local authorities, schools and the press and act as a link with other efforts around the country. Equity has set up a coordinating committee to develop that national grid of volunteers.

“If at the end of the year we had a network of Shakespeare Champions – the idea is that we have someone in Warrington, Leicester, Bodmin – an Equity member who is really keen on this idea who can talk to the theatres and the schools and the press – a network across the UK and Champions in every part of the country, then of course we’ll be looking for the support of the profession’s best known faces and approaching industry for money, but first we need to build the foundation. When we’ve proved we can organise right across the country and we have enthusiastic networks in towns and cities, then we can start talking about the endorsement of stars and business and getting the money.

“With sufficient imagination and sufficient courage we could give people back the sense of intensity that only comes from live performance,” Ian said. “To make people, especially young people, feel that Shakespeare and all good drama isn’t for other people, it’s for everyone, I think that would be a legacy to go on for a century. We won’t have built a lot of new theatres but we might catch the imagination of the public and bring them back to theatres and show them how good it can be. I think that’s worth chasing. It would be a precedent – if we can do it with Shakespeare it would be easier for others to follow our lead.”

If you would like to join Brighton Shakespeare 2012 Champions, Sylvia Alexander-Vine and Robert Cohen and have ideas about what your school, community or local organisation can contribute, email Sylvia at whwhistler@aol.com or bobbycoco@gmail.com.

Grocer and Grain

G&GSince taking over the Video Box store on the corner of Surrey Street and Upper Gloucester Road three years ago, my husband Hakan and I have had a vision of transforming this great little place into the ultimate neighbourhood grocery store. We wanted to offer good quality fresh produce, locally-sourced and seasonal, and by listening to our customers, aim towards building an ideal community service.

Whilst running it as a DVD rental store, we have got to know the local community really well, and having received positive feedback on our ideas for the store, this has encouraged us to reach for our goal. Excitingly, eight weeks ago, we finally re-opened as ‘Grocer and Grain’ and are delighted with the reaction, support and encouragement of our new and existing customers.

We offer a range of locally-sourced produce including: organic milk, cheese, eggs, bacon, ham and sausages from local farms. Also bread, cakes, coffee, ice cream and herbs from suppliers in Brighton, as well as fresh seasonal fruit and veg, plants and bread, dairy products, drinks and wholefoods and still offer DVD rentals as well. Following customers’ suggestions, we are going to be extending our range of local products to include fruit, veg, honey, meat and more. After many customer requests, we are also selling the vintage French wine crates on which we display our fruit and veg.

What has been so exciting is discovering great local suppliers with a passion for their produce which, in turn, we hope to share with our customers. We have lots of exciting ideas to help evolve and develop the store over time, it’s still early days but the journey is a joy.

The location of this store has always been a great stop-off for locals to have a chat and talk film with Hakan; now with food being the subject too, and a new interest in the changes, there’s always a great conversation flowing over the counter.

We want to interest our customers with new ideas for cooking in store with recipes to take away, highlighting new products, trying new suppliers and asking for customer feedback. We have exciting projects to involve the community which we’ll keep under wraps for now. We look forward to seeing you soon.

Lizzie Toklu
Grocer and Grain, 1 Surrey Street, Brighton, Tel: 01273 823455