The Siege of The Elephant: Convergence against gentrification of The Elephant Nov 17th 2012

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Monday 22 October 2012 12.24am
The Siege of The Elephant: Convergence against gentrification of The Elephant November 17th 2012, 11-5pm

Southwark Notes Archive Group* are currently inviting folks to contribute to The Siege of the Elephant, a one-day convergence against the gentrification of Elephant and Castle (and the surrounding area). The event aims to bring together local communities, activists, campaign and amenity group members and traders, as well as academics, students, researchers and members of campaign groups involved in similar regeneration/gentrification struggles in other areas of London.


There are two ways to contribute:

1) by participating to the event itself, which will take place on Saturday 17th November in Walworth, South London

2) and/or by submitting material to be displayed on the day and to be added to our Gentrification Archive. Submissions to the archive will also be accepted on a rolling basis from the Siege onwards.

The Siege of the Elephant

The aim of the day is to share evidence and discuss alternatives in relation to the gentrification of North Southwark and Elephant and Castle. The day will be divided in two parts and each will consist of
three parallel workshops followed by plenary discussions. We ask invited contributors like you to introduce themselves and make a 5 minute presentation on relevant evidence, work and/or experiences, which can
then be opened up for response to those at the table.

LIKELY TIMETABLE:
• PART I (Morning)

How does gentrification work and what are its causes and effects in
Elephant and Castle?
The focus will be on sharing evidence of:
- the displacement of existing communities (residential and commercial) and loss of public resources and amenities
- flaws with regeneration plans and the consultation processes (broken promises of re-housing, problems with top-down planning)
- the role of PR and mass media narratives that support the Council’s and the developers own narratives around regeneration.

• PART II (Afternoon)
How can we resist or alter dynamics of gentrification?
Discussing and exploring knowledge and practical ways and means that propose alternatives to regeneration as gentrification and the accompanying Local Authorities / developers’ consultations:
- countering the displacement of existing communities and the loss of public resources (the discontents of ‘affordable’ housing)
- resistance to empty consultation and enacting forms of local decision-making
- countering existing narratives of ‘failure and progress’ and promoting
alternative visions

Lunch and tea will be provided, and there may well also be time for walking around the Heygate Estate and the Better Elephant permanent exhibition.

A finalised programme will be distributed closer to the date.

Facilitation on the day
Time is precious, so we are asking people to be selective with their contributions. Each workshop will be facilitated towards keeping the debate accessible to all and to allow time for all to contribute. Those interested in presenting evidence are asked to liaise with the organizers beforehand.

Participation In The Event:
There is no formal registration process for this event. All you need to do is write to us at:
elephantnotes@yahoo.co.uk

and we will contact you to confirm your participation and what you may be able to bring to this event – evidence, materials, facilitation skills etc.

Travel costs
We are unable to cover travel costs for all participants, but if you are
interested in coming from far and wide, do get in touch and we will
strive to contribute something from our small budget.

Contributions to Southwark Notes Gentrification Archive
We also want to use the event to expand Southwark Notes Gentrification Archive. This open-access archive attempts to hold a record of anti-gentrification struggle for the past 15 years in the North Southwark area. We are archiving books, newspaper cuttings, council brochures and academic publications on the local area as well as the local and global gentrification struggles. Let us know if you can provide us with copies of relevant work or material or if you have suggestions for work we should obtain for the archive. Material can be submitted in any format. If in digital format, we will try to print a hard copy on the day.

After the event
The evidence and discussions of the day will be compiled and a concise summary will be published and distributed for free as a small Southwark Notes pamphlet as well as online, and will include a thematic bibliography of recent research and publications.

————————————————————————————————

*Southwark Notes Archive Group run the popular anti-gentrification blog Southwark Notes that offers news, analysis and little stabs at the gentrification of the area. We have also been organising regular anti-gentrification walks, printing postcards, posters, maps and comics, and keeping active on within various groups and campaigns in the ongoing struggle whilst keeping an eye on the history (the mistakes and successes) and the big picture (globalisation, financialisation and all that!). We also maintain all this stuff and news and history in an archive within 56a Infoshop, the local Walworth self-managed community space.

Monday 22 October 2012 6.54am
Gosh...seems a bit of an allornothing premise. Where do you draw a line between updating, cleaning up, improving infrastructure and amenities - and total change of image and population? What is the aim of this conference? To call a full stop to the whole Elephant regeneration? Or to go back to the drawing board? :(read: stasis for another fifteen years)? Like many revolutions, movements "against" frequently lack a proviso about "for". Down with v. Up With. I'm sceptical.
Monday 22 October 2012 9.09am
jackie rokotnitz wrote:
Gosh...seems a bit of an allornothing premise. Where do you draw a line between updating, cleaning up, improving infrastructure and amenities - and total change of image and population? What is the aim of this conference? To call a full stop to the whole Elephant regeneration? Or to go back to the drawing board? :(read: stasis for another fifteen years)? Like many revolutions, movements "against" frequently lack a proviso about "for". Down with v. Up With. I'm sceptical.

Yes, being against something without being for something else is pretty pointless practically when looking at regeneration and gentrification. The afternoon sessions are about alternatives to what has been happening so far in 15 years in the 'regeneration'. Hopefully we can discuss other ways of changing the area that are not the monolithic 'private housing = the only way' model.
Monday 22 October 2012 10.04am
What a shame that the Heygate could not be re-used while all this dilly dallying goes on...they 'decanted' hundreds of families for nothing it seems.
Monday 22 October 2012 10.16am
Use of the pejorative word "gentrification" doesn't really help, imho.

Doesn't give much hope that the tone will be balanced. Which is a shame, because the development of the Elephant, and SE1 in general, will affect all of us in some quite major ways.

...if you press it, they will come.
Monday 22 October 2012 11.03am
Whilst the title is perhaps militant the detailed aims in bulletpoints - to gain understanding of what gentrification is (it's not a universally understood concept) and how it can be altered/resisted in part seem worthwhile to me.

The regeneration as it's currently proposed is not unlimited gentrification - the council and developers, with pressure on them, is doing some things for existing businesses to be able to continue; a space for a market and so on. I think the organisers will reflect on what has been achieved to date and how to proceed.

To take one example, if I was to say that Starbucks paid much far more than the other nearest (also chain) bidders to open their small outlet at the top end of Borough High Street - i.e. a single over the odds transaction hiking up the lease and ratings values of not just that unit but other units nearby (neighbouring businesses will find their business rates go higher as a result of that transaction and others, increasing their costs) - well that is one local example of gentrification. And we now find they pay no UK corporation tax by operating through a web of bean grinding and beancounting companies around the world. E&C will have 1000s of new homes and several new coffee shops. If we come to some view that we want local or existing cafes, or ones that at least pay UK corp tax (e.g. Costa) as part of that, or ones that are affordable or provide informal work space for start up businesses, then we could seek some council or community ownership of some business units, auditing of businesses to find out how they would plan for continuity, etc. Ownership (rather than planning/licensing application processes) is the key way to influence this, and this is the right time to do it, whilst the council is on board with the developer designing the whole scheme.

Gentrification is not all bad and it is not all stoppable but I think a community should gain an understanding of it, decide how much gentrification they're comfortable with and learn/propose how to influence it. I wish the organisers well.
Monday 22 October 2012 12.42pm
Hi Merlin Rouge

I don't know what gentrification is and I would need to be clear on that point before deciding For or Against it. Can you help me with that?

Until then, I'm tempted to consider "The Siege" as I would a post-modernist work of art...as a subjective event from which everyone will draw the conclusion they wish to.
Monday 22 October 2012 1.24pm
ceity slicker wrote:
Hi Merlin Rouge
I don't know what gentrification is and I would need to be clear on that point before deciding For or Against it. Can you help me with that?

Until then, I'm tempted to consider "The Siege" as I would a post-modernist work of art...as a subjective event from which everyone will draw the conclusion they wish to.

The organisers Southwark Notes explain gentrification and regeneration on their site:

http://southwarknotes.wordpress.com/where-we-are-coming-from/
Monday 22 October 2012 1.47pm
I have grown up going "down the Elephant", lived on the Heygate and Rockingham and just thought I would say something that has been playing on my mind for a while.

everyone knows the Elephant is an eyesore, the roundabout is dangerous, the shops look shoddy and worn out but to be honest, the Elephant is now the only place near here that the not so well off (like myself) can go and buy groceries that do not come with extortionate price tags. its where small time business's can start to grow because they can afford the rent. Its where under represented people can build a community. its where these people START to become valuable members of society and finally, its where British people can go to learn and embrace what these people have to offer.

I am all for regeneration, but to displace the people that see the Elephant as they're livelyhood because it is no longer convenient to have them there is just cruel.

I just hope that when this new development is completed, that rents will be frozen based on what they were previously paying.

this applies to the majority of the UK too. We are in a recession. Whats the point of having nice shiny new buildings that no one can afford unless your Starbucks who dodge the tax man anyway? we need to boost small business, give them a leg up. help them get on their way, so they can employ more people, take people out of poverty. not build buildings that are robbing us blind!


P.S I haven't really looked into the finer details of the proposal, but going on what money grabbing greedy development is happening in this country... I am guessing the above applies!? correct me if I am wrong?!

:-)
Monday 22 October 2012 2.29pm
Merlin Rouge wrote:
ceity slicker wrote:
Hi Merlin Rouge
I don't know what gentrification is and I would need to be clear on that point before deciding For or Against it. Can you help me with that?

Until then, I'm tempted to consider "The Siege" as I would a post-modernist work of art...as a subjective event from which everyone will draw the conclusion they wish to.

The organisers Southwark Notes explain gentrification and regeneration on their site:

http://southwarknotes.wordpress.com/where-we-are-coming-from/


"Gentrification is...the displacement of the original poorer inhabitants by wealthier ones." Southwark Notes.

Have I got this right ?

So it would be OK by Southwark Notes to displace the original inhabitants of the Elephant, as long as it was with poorer people ?
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