We had an interesting and productive two days over the weekend of the 24th/25th March. We spent Saturday afternoon at the Mendip Wildlife Gardens Wonderful Family Gathering at Dunster Avenue on the northern fringes of Southend and all day Sunday at the Southend Community Wellbeing & Vegan Festival.
The event on Saturday was a community festival with an interesting vibe held on a council estate on the fringes of Southend up by the A127 and right under the flight path to the airport. An area that has more than its fair share of problems but also has a pretty good sense of community as well which in these troubled times, is essential in building neighbourhood resilience. It gave us (South Essex Working Class Action) some ideas on persuading residents on one of the estates we work on in Basildon to think about putting on something similar with us helping to facilitate it. It was also interesting to see what various groups of volunteers have done with the Mendip Wildlife Garden – a lovely little oasis right in the heart of the estate.
On the Sunday we had an Essex Social Strategic Alliance stall at the vegan festival with a table loaded with leaflets and papers. We shifted two thirds of the print run of the current edition of The Estuary Alternative (we kept a third back for distribution at suitable venues across the region). Not only that we had a fair few interesting conversations and made some potentially useful contacts in the process. What was good about this event is that unlike a lot of vegan fairs which can be very lifestyle orientated, there were a healthy number of campaign stalls present to help put some politics and context into veganism.
Lastly, but by no means least, a big thank you to Chay Godfree, Dean Ward and the teams of volunteers out on both days for organising and running both events. Both events in their own way provided an opportunity for the community to get together – on the Saturday to enjoy themselves and on the Sunday for an insight into veganism and also a chance for local activists to do some serious networking.