Monday the 11th, the Birmingham Pound team visited Brixton and our friends at Brixton Pound. We were welcomed in what will soon be their Brixton Pound café, a lovely space for a cuppa Joe and a chat. Tom, the manager, told us all about the development of the Brixton model.
In Brixton there has been a local Pound since 2009, first only as a paper-based currency, but since 2011 there has been an electronic pay-by-text platform. Since then they have set up a Brixton Fund, to offer grants t to local initiatives, the Brixton Bonus, a monthly draw for the chance at a Brixton Grant, and their Brixton Pound shop with space for workshops, meetings and exhibits. All these initiatives have arisen from their values: What reflects Brixton’s character and what can improve Brixton? It is all about reimagining what Brixton can be. One of the great ways in which the local pound connects with the area is through the design of their note and the links they have made with the bohemian vibe of the area.
After a long talk and discussion we went to see Brixton’s famous cash machine and got some REAL Brixton Pounds followed by lunch from the independents at POP Brixton.
While we were munching away at our delicious ramen, salads and wraps we were thinking how the Brixton Pound has found the identity of their area and managed to attach itself to what it means to be Brixton. Being a clearly defined area in London that identity can be more easily encapsulated. Always thinking ahead to our own project, we started wondering how we can express what it means to be Brum.
Birmingham can be described as a city of many villages. The whole of Birmingham is very diverse, but each separate part seems to hold a strong and maybe even separate identity. But what Birmingham is, can’t be just an adding up of areas; it has to arise from all the connections we make between where we live and who we know and where we work and play. So what makes Birmingham Brum as it makes Digbeth, Digbeth and Small Heath, Small Heath?
The melting pot of London and the arches of Brixton have brought us these questions. In the coming months we are trying to discover where Birmingham makes us proud, where Birmingham is home. Thinking not of your area, but of the whole of this city, what makes you proud?