Hello – it’s me, Bik. Now, listen, I don’t want to be harbinger of D O O M but I just want to remind people that the little places in your city need you (I’m not just talking about the Art House, here.) We are, by all accounts, heading for the first ever g l o b a l economic meltdown. This has never happened before – it is unique in the history of mankind. The huge elephant in the room that we have all been ignoring for so long has finally said “right, bugger this, I’m out of here” and gone crashing through the living room wall, trashing the carpet on the way. This has all, for some reason, taken everyone by surprise! (Did we really think the party was sustainable and would go on and on with no consequences and without the worst hangover you ever had?) We have been externalising (trashing the planet so we can buy stuff cheap) for so long, it was inevitable that, like a building built on sand, it would come crashing down. The parents have come home, and we better fix the mess quick.
While the CEOs, bankers and the politicians (in order of influence here) are running about like headless chickens, *now* is the best chance we have of inventing a new future for humanity. Counter intuitively, everyone needs to start focusing on the local community (and it’s not just Barack Obama saying so.) Every time we go to the Odeon instead of Harbour Lights, Tesco (remember, “every little hurts”) instead of your local green-grocer, every time you stay in to watch crap-on-the-box instead of going out and supporting a live local band or doing a workshop or getting active on Global/Local issues, everytime we buy non-fairtrade coffee when there are perfectly good fairtrade options, evertime we buy plastic goop for our hair from the Merchants of Body Hatred we feed a system which, we can all now see clear as day, is a complete fantasy. It’s the Matrix. Take the red pill. Sign those petitions, join Survival International and write letters, dance naked round a fire, bug your MP to death, lend money to the developing world through Kiva, start a CIC, go wild, connect with the universe, be positive.
It’s a fine line between sounding negative about everything, sounding preachy and sounding upbeat about the future. So, to be clear, I’m not even talking about taking down capitalism – I don’t think we’ll survive that. I’m talking about taking back ownership of capitalism by making it work at grass roots level. Making sure that businesses are accountable, that the corporations that have robbed us of the electric car, organic food and clean air start to listen. And we can do that by supporting the independent businesses and funky places in our city.
In just the last few months we have seen Southampton’s last independant video shop close, and Sweetooth, our nice little polish cafe over the road, Lucid (the clubber’s gear shop) and, most recently, a fabulous art gallery, Spice Arts in Bitterne. These are the sort of tucked-away groovy place they write about in travel guides. Not John Lewis, not Ikea, not Starbucks. Please, please keep going to the few independant places that are left and spend some of your money there. If you haven’t got any money, go and volunteer some of your time to help. If you don’t have the time for that, just go and visit, anyway. And if you can’t visit, send them an email or phone them up and say “I think it is really cool that you are here.” Give them your support which ever way you can. Perform random acts of kindness and senseless beauty every day (but at the same time, don’t take any sh*t from anyone because the minute you you start going down that rabbit hole you will find yourself under attack.)
I, for one, am rolling up my sleeves, walking into the storm and looking forward to 2009.
Love and Light,