Alternative Estuary No.2

The latest edition of the Alternative Estuary paper is currently being printed. As we can only afford a limited print run, as well as making it available as a downloadable PDF, we’re also reproducing the contents of the paper in this post.

It’s easy to know what you’re against in a dysfunctional, unsustainable and increasingly dystopian world. Railing against the world we have to endure may make you feel better but…does it lead to positive change? We know that the political, economic and social system we inhabit is rapidly heading towards its use by date and that we have to bring about radical change if we’re going to survive. Alternative Estuary is about is what can be done in the here to build the new world we need and want in the decaying shell of the old one we currently endure.

Building a new world in the shell of the old…

In the first issue of this paper, we wrote about various ways of starting to build a new world from the grassroots upwards. The point was to set the tone of what the Alternative Estuary project is about – bringing about change in the here and now. As the first edition of the paper has been well received, we’ve decided to bring out this follow up edition.

What we’re doing with this paper is pointing people in the direction of a range of projects, each of which in their own way are starting to make a difference at the grassroots. On the surface, the initiatives listed below may just seem to be a collection of stand alone projects. Taken together, we see them as being greater than the sum of their parts.

Take a look through the listings inside this paper. Whichever project is near to you or grabs your fancy, give it a go and get involved. Not only will you be making a start on changing the world in a tangible, visible way, you’ll also be working and bonding with like minded people.


Billericay Community Garden

A space for all things edible, educational, creative and exciting. Built by the community for the community.

The mission behind the community garden is simple: Firstly, create a space where the community of Billericay can interact with growing, eating and sharing food. Secondly, to provide free educational sessions on a broad range of subjects. Lastly, enable the community to build, shape and run the garden (or new gardens) in the future.

Land kindly provided by Rev. Paul Carr.

Address: Church View, Billericay, Essex.

Southend In Transition Community Allotment

We are setting up a community allotment with you where we can meet, grow, eat and treat each other with respect and have a good time.

We meet generally every 2nd Sat and 4th Sun of each month but please check the website or give us a call to confirm details for the current month.

Address: Southend East Allotments, Hamstel Road, Soutchchurch Village, Southend on Sea, Essex.


South East Essex Organic Gardeners

We are a web fed by and feeding those concerned with the ecology of our planet and our human impact on it. We aim to promote the organic way and a community response and reaction to develop resilience locally and globally. We meet every two months with talks on a wide range of topics, usually with a local connection; we also provide speakers for other organisations to help spread the word. During the year, we also arrange group outings, these days by car-share. We work in partnership with local charity Trust Links, who host our meetings and run the Growing Together Gardens with their core work for mental health and the environment.


Are you tired of ‘the problems’ and want to be more solutions-focused? Do you seek to live compassionately without the unnecessary exploitation of people, animals and the environment? Are you concerned about climate change and future generations? Create the change you wish to see in this world with permaculture!

Our focus is on active learning, designing innovative courses and workshops that are participatory, fun, lively and inclusive.

Adapted from the Permaculture Association (Britain)’s PDC core curriculum and much more, we create learning experiences that empower you, your organisation or your community to make positive change happen today.


Southend In Transition

Welcome to the home of Southend in Transition, an exploration of how the people of the borough of Southend on Sea including Southend, Westcliff, Prittlewell, Southchurch, Leigh, Shoeburyness, Eastwood and Thorpe Bay can prepare for a carbon constrained, energy lean world. SiT is a community-led initiative which is working towards the creation of an Energy Descent Action Plan for the town. The thinking behind SiT is simply that a town using much less energy and resources than we presently consume could, if properly planned for and designed, be more resilient, more abundant and more pleasurable than the present.

SiT also believe that only by involving all of us – residents, businesses, public bodies, community organisations and schools – will we come up with the most innovative, effective and practical ideas, and have the energy and skills to carry them out.

Southmenders Repair Cafe

For a few years there have been emerging little pockets of revolutionary creatives, wishing to turn the tide on the built in obsolescence cycle which has had us all at its mercy. These people have been creating pop up cafes of kindly souls with a passion for helping people and saving the environment from over-spilling landfill. This movement has been termed Repair Cafe and there are many all over Britain and worldwide and they are growing in number all the time.

Southend’s first Repair Cafe started January 2017 and has received an enthusiastic response in the town. There is a great atmosphere at the Cafe and children through to pensioners seem to enjoy the buzz of seeing stuff destined for landfill repaired and put back into service the hot drinks and tasty cakes all make for a great experience.


Hardie Park

Hardie Park is a community led family park and open green space. Local residents took ownership with the guidance of Director, Rob Groves in order to develop and enhance the area for the benefit of the local community. Friends of Hardie Park are a Registered Charity and Community Interest Company and a not-for-profit organisation.

Over a period of years the site has developed enormously and now provides a cafe and play facility 7 days a week.

Address: Hardie Road, Stanford-le-Hope, Essex, SS17 0PB.

Orchards Community Forum

Orchards Community Forum is established to represent all those with an interest in the Orchards area. By working in partnership with all relevant interest groups, voluntary organisations, government departments, statutory authorities and individuals, the Orchards Community Forum seeks to provide for the improvement in the local environs for an involved and valued community.

TrustLinks (Growing Together Westcliff)

Trust Links has grown from one Growing Together therapeutic community garden, on the corner of Fairfax Drive and Prittlewell Chase in Westcliff, to running a further three in Shoeburyness, Thundersley and Rochford. The charity, founded in 2000, now supports more than 1,000 people per year through Growing Together, REACH Recovery College and the carers service. The public are welcome to visit our award winning gardens, purchase plants and veg and join our community events including the popular Apple Day, May Fayre and Seed Potato Day. If you are in South Essex and have a mental health problem, learning disability or are a young person looking for support, or you are a carer in Southend Borough, get in touch and see how we can work with you.

Let’s grow this list!

We know this is not a comprehensive list of what’s happening across the south of Essex. If your project has been left out, please accept our apologies. Alternative Estuary is a work in progress and is evolving all the time. We want to link to more grassroots community projects on our blog. If you want to be included, please send us a description of what you do along with aims and ethos plus the all important link to your website/blog/social media page. If it fits our criteria of a progressive grassroots initiative that’s making a difference, we’ll be more than happy to put up a link to it.

System change is the only answer

Alternative Estuary is about promoting progressive grassroots projects that will start to make a difference in the here and now. Projects that will start to build the infrastructure we need for the new world we want to build.

However, we’re not naïve enough to think that grassroots projects alone will bring about the fundamental change we need. We know that the elites running system we live under will not willingly relinquish their power. We know there will be a struggle to bring power right down to the grassroots where we live.

There are a whole range of strategies and tactics that can be deployed to bring that about. A major part of our ethos is supporting projects that start to give people a sense of control over their lives and communities in the here and now. Each of these projects, and the sum of them, are stepping stones to the ultimate aim of system change.


Cynefin Foundation
Empty Cages Design
Permaculture Association
Seeds for Change

Blogs of interest
Dengie Bioregion

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