Hackney Changemakers: Thea May

“I realised that I can not teach people to lie any more. My line in the sand is clear. I cannot and will not no longer coach people to give charismatic talks that they don’t care about. That is how we got into this problem in the first place! Disconnect from self and others. Business detached from its social and environmental impact.”

Shadowlands: Gothic Abney Park, After-Dark

Is the Gothic a thing of the past? Or does our contemporary culture haunt us the same way that the anxieties of the Victorian age bled out onto the pages of titles such as Frankenstein or Dracula? How do our worries about the future connect with those who lived through the Age of Reform? You…

Wick Speaks! Sat 17th Oct

Exciting times Saturday 17th October sees the culmination of the Wick Speaks! project, a collaboration with the exciting interactive East London international artists of The People Speak. We’ve been out in the Wick, collecting stories from local people who are going to feature in an online tour, tomorrow. It’s free and anyone can join. BOOK…

Hackney Changemakers: Doug Racionzer

Hackney Cooperative Developments have been here several decades, trying to keep commercial rents affordable so that existing business owners can stay where they have established themselves and, often, where they live. They are closely involved with the council on the Hackney Social Enterprise Borough initiative and this is how I met Sophie Higgins (see previous…

Hackney Changemakers: Luke Billingham

Hackney Quest do brilliant things in E9 for Hackney youth. Those who spend most time with our young people are the ones who’re most positive about them. There’s a real buzz about this community hub; more and more I realise what an incredible job youth workers do, with less and less resource from central government…

Hackney Changemakers: Esther Freeman

Esther gets things done. She approached me pre-Covid to collaborate on a Hackney women’s history walking project which now has turned into a podcast (listen here). As you’ll see, we both like uncovering hidden stories and we both think that by looking back, we can better understand where we are today. And who doesn’t like…

Holidays in Hackney: Marshes Winter Bivvy

How can we find plane-free low-carbon wonder in our own backyard? Not just because we need to change our attitude to travel, not just because many here can’t afford it either – but also because who can’t benefit from feeling a little happier every day by loving where they live? Big journeys start with a…

Holidays in Hackney: Midnight Kayak Adventure

For some years now I’ve been exploring how we can find plane-free low-carbon wonder in our own backyard. Not just because we need to change our attitude to travel, not just because many here can’t afford it either – but also because who can’t benefit from feeling a little happier every day by loving where…

Hackney Changemakers: Toyin Agbetu

I met Toyin and heard about Ligali through the free festival of learning Antiuniversity. This 1968 Hackney phenomenon was recently revived – as education becomes more expensive and institutions become ever more business-like – and still has strong links to the borough. Toyin was researching local activism and is another character whose upbeat demeanour contrasts…

Hackney Changemakers: Amy Todd

Since 2012, I’ve been telling the remarkable story on walks of the Dissenters of Newington Green and a remarkable ‘church’ where anybody and everybody is welcome. You don’t even have to believe in God to attend the Sunday service (motto: “Believe in good”). Many of us will be familiar with the Enlightenment icon Mary Wollstonecraft…

Hackney Changemakers: LA Saunders

I met Leslie on a business course run by Allia in Hackney. Her unusual ‘Hairstorian’ mission intrigued me and her energy was infectious, so we became friends. We are from completely different backgrounds and she’s opened doors for me into other sections of the community in Hackney. I’ve been welcomed warmly by low-key community activists…