Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Spike forever

I had a fascinating day in the library about a month back. The John Harvard library has temporarily moved into Peckham library and the documents were finally available. They had more recent stuff than the London Metropolitan Archive. What most intrigued me were the newspaper articles about the Spike just after it closed in 1985. I was seeing familiar headlines: “Save the Spike campaign launched”. That was in the Mercury on November 21st 1985. Local residents were suggesting that the entire site should be converted into a mixture of flats, studios, workshops and community facilities. There was a gorgeous chapel on the site back then that would have been perfect for performances. There was a quote from the campaigns leader, Dave Cannon, saying that “Southwark seems determined to bulldoze the lot”. We asked John Beasley, a wonderful historian if he still knew of him, and he did. He still lives on Consort Road! Me and Donna went to visit him. He said he’d been supporting us from a distance. He seemed a little scarred from his battle back then.
There was a report in the Planning Newsheet winter 1987. The proposed redevelopment had received support from the Government funded North Peckham Taskforce. Then it seems it all went wrong. The majority of the site became housing association in 1992. Dave said all they could keep hold of was 39b, where the Children’s Scrap Scheme was based until they lost their funding.

So. There you go. A dream has been dreamed many times before. The nuns had a desire to have positive effects on Peckham. I read about their mission after JD did some research on the Sisters of the Holy Retreat. I’m sure the wayfarers dreamt of a place that they could be.

Lately I’ve been running samba workshops with Cardboard Citizens at a day centre for the homeless. The first week I showed up I joined the back of the queue as the men filed in. My thoughts immediately flashed back to conversations with Frank – I mentioned him in the first blog.. the queues down the road of colourful souls. I met another recently who had stayed at the Spike in the 70’s. His name is Jimmy and I met him at a Groundswell visioning day (I got some of the garden funding from them). He’ll come for an interview soon, but from what I could gather, he didn’t think much of the place back then. He said he couldn’t believe they made you shower to get in such a louse ridden bed!

Future wise at the Spike, things are still looking hazy. We are waiting to hear back from lenders. The Council are still being impossible to talk to. We’re having a clear out as someone making bio-diesel is just about to move in to one of the workshops. So it’s perfect timing for the Peoples Republic of Southwark mini eco fair which is taking place at the Spike on Sunday. It includes a bring and take event, invisible (wild) foods talk, music, food…
ecofair square

Dawit (AKA Smallmoney) has been working away and has come up with our first podcast…

And the thing that I’m most excited about is the launch of the Yoda Room. It’s the post production studio at the Spike, and for the last year me and Josh have been working towards getting it up and running. The tracks are sounding really fresh and people are truly so keen to get in here.

So things are feeling really positive anyway…

Friday, 14 November 2008

Still blossoming

It’s been a long time. A lot has happened. And not happened.

It’s unfortunate that our focus has been diverted into saving the community base.
There were a lot of beautiful plans for the summer that got shelved because of the pressure to find half a million quid.

So Halloween had to happen. Since the beginning of the Spike Surplus Scheme there has been a gathering on 31st October. This year was the tenth marking of the end of summer, honouring of the dead.
The place was buzzing in the weeks leading up to it. So creative. Papier mache skulls emerging, boards were being painted up out in the yard… passers by couldn’t help but pick up a brush.. and then they couldn’t put them down! One night I found Karen, Maddy, Mary-Anne and Kevin down in the workshop at 3 in the morning! They didn’t know each other before.

We were having Thriller dance rehearsals at every chance we got, which were going fine until we realised that it was all at a quarter speed. We didn’t pull that one off. Hey ho. Next year.

Phil ItIsTV had massive ideas on the projector side of things. All week he was laying cables and arranging equipment. Prasanth was frantically fixing projectors. Paul was getting photos together from previous years. And wow. It was so amazing on the night. Projections all over the walls of the railway bridge and the gazebo roof. And there was filming. And a diary room for a while before people became too unfocussed.

Delphine put on such a beautiful fireworks display after the fire ceremonies. The fireworks were gorgeous – a good variety of safe ones.. but it was her I was really impressed by. She’s just started doing it professionally and wow, she really displayed them well. You could see flashes of her darting about lighting more in a sequence. I hope someone filmed that.

All the bands were awesome.. The Pinstickers set the tone.. full energy Ggrrhhhh. Headjam once again did Spike proud, and Victor Menace with their ninja folk made us dance til we turned into pumpkins.. or something.

Anyway.. we hit the ground with a bang after the celebration. Suddenly it was November and the next opportunity to speak with the Council Assembly had come. We had finally received a reply from Harriet Harman accompanied by the report she had been sent from Southwark Council. Oh my word! It was so spurious. A really negative, uninformed overview. Lynn braved the townhall this time, simply asking if they would come and visit the site so they could know what they are talking about. Nick Stanton responded by saying that he could not answer the question because of the legal situation. I was bursting to ask ‘what legal situation?’ from the balcony, but I restrained myself as Lynn asked if they would come once the legal situation was sorted... he said that would depend on the outcome or something. So maybe they’re talking about eviction procedures. I think they’re crazy. They don’t know the talent and love based here. Obviously. Yet.
I hope the money comes fast. Donna’s flat is on the market. A number of lenders are considering the business plan. We’ve got a begging letter workday next week…

A good bit of positivity came through the other day. It was the second meeting of the Greener Peckham food group, and this time it was held at the Spike, in conjunction with Spike’s regular community gardening meet up. It was wonderful to have such inspiring and active people around the kitchen table. We spoke about growing projects out and about around Peckham. Greener Ventures Sarah has been sorting funding to start a community garden in a park by a local estate as well as show case growing and permaculture in an urban setting right in the middle of town by the library.
So onwards and upwards.

Here’s a video of Sound of Rum at a Monday Love special for The Spike. It was a great night at the Good Ship in Kilburn.

I’ve known Kate for about 4 years now. She’s very much part of the Spike magic. Check out Sound of Rum.
Oh, and Spike TV is about to launch on the podcast… watch this space.