People Power!

The posters for the West Nor­wood Feast call it a “people-powered” mar­ket — so what exactly does that mean? Well, to put it bluntly, it means the Feast would never have happened without dozens of local people who have thrown their time, energy and pas­sion behind it.

In Janu­ary, myself and the rest of the Space Makers team star­ted host­ing weekly open meet­ings on a Tues­day night. Through these meet­ings — which hap­pen at The Rail­way pub by Tulse Hill sta­tion, 6.30 till 8.30pm — res­id­ents and local busi­nesses got involved and soon took the lead in organ­ising the dif­fer­ent parts of the mar­ket.

After two suc­cess­ful mar­kets, we’re learn­ing how this pro­cess works — and start­ing to map out the roles involved. In the weeks ahead, we’ll also be set­ting up a Com­munity Interest Com­pany which will begin to take over the form­al run­ning of the mar­ket from Space Makers, as we all work to make the Feast a sus­tain­able long-term part of life in West Nor­wood.

As we head into that pro­cess, we’re look­ing for more people to get involved and become part of the Feast gang. If I say we’re look­ing for “volun­teers”, that word doesn’t really reflect the pas­sion, ini­ti­at­ive and lead­er­ship which char­ac­ter­ises the group that has come togeth­er over the past few months. I asked my Twit­ter friends for bet­ter words and they sug­ges­ted “change­makers”, “doers”, “remakers”, “cata­lysts”, “fer­til­isers” — all of which get a bit closer to the truth.

Whatever the right word is, there are lots of ways you can get involved — and, as the exist­ing gang will testi­fy, it’s a great way to meet more people who live near you and learn more about all the great stuff that’s already going on in West Nor­wood.

The fol­low­ing isn’t a com­plete list — just an out­line of some of the ways in which you can help — and if any of them catch your ima­gin­a­tion, then please come and join us this (or any) Tues­day at The Rail­way for our weekly meet­ing (6.30–8.30pm).

Strong Arms

There’s a lot of phys­ic­al work involved in a mar­ket! Feast days start at 6.30am, load­ing the van with stalls and set­ting them up at the four mar­ket­place hubs. There’s a second shift from 4.30 till 7.30pm, pack­ing the stalls back into the lock-up. If you fancy a work-out once a month, then this could be the role for you!

Story Tell­ers

At the heart of the Feast is a vis­ion of mak­ing West Nor­wood a bet­ter place to live — and an idea of the mar­ket­place as some­thing warm­er and broad­er than just a space for buy­ing and selling, an age-old soci­able insti­tu­tion where you come to hang out, meet people, hear stor­ies and songs, learn about what’s going on in the area. We need people who can help tell that story — on the inter­net, to journ­al­ists who get in con­tact with us, to poten­tial fun­ders, and to other busi­nesses and organ­isa­tions who want to under­stand what’s going on.

Hub Lead­ers

These people are legends. Each of the four mar­ket­place hubs — the Food Fair, the Retro Vil­lage, the Gardener’s Corner and the Artisan’s Mar­ket — needs a couple of people to take the lead, find great local stall­hold­ers and build rela­tion­ships with them, handle book­ings, tell people where to go on the day and gen­er­ally hold it all togeth­er. We already have some amaz­ing people who’ve led the hubs so far, but we could do with some extra lead­ers or poten­tial lead­ers — par­tic­u­larly for the artisan’s and food mar­kets.

Busi­ness Heads

We’ve got the begin­nings of a suc­cess on our hands. Thou­sands of people came to the first two Feasts and the feed­back we’ve had is ter­rif­ic. So how do we turn this into some­thing viable for the long-term? There’s enough trade being cre­ated for local busi­nesses and for stall­hold­ers as a res­ult of the Feast that we’re con­vinced we can find some busi­ness mod­els that will enable it to become self-sus­tain­ing. If you’ve got a head for num­bers and a nose for deals, we need your help to make this a real­ity.

Enter­tain­ment Wran­glers

The Feast is more than just a place to shop, it’s some­where you can spend a day hanging out, listen­ing, play­ing, learn­ing, meet­ing people. A big part of this is the enter­tain­ment and work­shops. We’ve been work­ing with some fant­ast­ic local organ­isa­tions — includ­ing the Por­tico Gal­lery, Net­tle­fold Hall, the South Lon­don Theatre and the Friends of West Nor­wood Cemetery — all of whom have been involved in organ­ising and host­ing activ­it­ies. But we also need volun­teers who can help us find musi­cians, per­formers and enter­tain­ers of all kinds to make the Feast a great day out for old and young.

Local Ambas­sad­ors

Finally, one of the simplest and most import­ant roles is that of the ambas­sad­ors who rep­res­ent the Feast, act­ing as its eyes, ears — and mouths! This can include spread­ing the word in between mar­ket days — for example, hand­ing out leaf­lets out­side the rail­way sta­tion — as well as help­ing out as a stew­ard on the day itself, keep­ing an eye out for any issues, answer­ing people’s ques­tions and gen­er­ally rep­res­ent­ing the Feast.

So there you are, there are lots of ways to get involved in our people-powered mar­ket and help it to thrive. If any of this has caught your ima­gin­a­tion, please come down and meet us at The Rail­way pub, by Tulse Hill sta­tion, this Tues­day (or any other Tues­day) from 6.30 to 8.30pm.

We look for­ward to meet­ing you!

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