On wednesday night 6heads community were treated to an intriguing and inspirational tour of Dalston’s undercover innovation scene – a walk through its innovative past, present and future; featuring stories of the often unsung heroes who have, and are, changing the way we do things for the better – often against all odds.
Our group of over 20 sustainability and innovation curious explorers met in the Dalston Eastern Curve Garden, the first stop on our adventure. Here we were met with an incredible display of Halloween pumpkins created by the garden’s many community users. Garden managers Brian Cummings and Marie Murray talked us through the remarkable story of the site – from disused railway track (hence the unusual name); to access path to the nearby local shopping centre; to thriving green space, community hub and creative activity hotbed – and their long and committed journey to creating and maintaining this special placed.
Our journey then took us to Save the Date pay-what-you-want restaurant, part of ‘the real junk food project’ – an initiative to tackle the dual issues of food poverty and food waste. There, lead volunteer Harry Tuke, explained the challenges and joys of creating, and participating in, a donation-funded and waste food-fueled, community meal project. Harry also told us about contemporary disrupters ‘Growing Communities’, whose network of patchwork farms over Hackney and organic farmers market, is trying to radically alter our consumption patterns of – and attitude towards – food.
Next stop, the very hip ‘Dusty knuckle bakery’; one of the shipping container housed, social enterprises and locally run and sourced businesses in Dalston’s Bootyard. The dusty knuckle bakery was the first of the site’s start-ups, following their triumph in a community competition run by site owners Bootstrap Dalston to make use of a former car park. It makes some of the best bread in the neighborhood – which visitors can enjoy whilst admiring the impressive surrounding street art – whilst also working on a project that aims to inspire and up-skill local schooling-excluded children
Finally, after a few fascinating tales of Hackney’s historic transformational thinkers and change makers, we wondered to our last stop on the Hackney tour. The Arcola theatre is. Here Feimatta Conteh showcased for us this truly innovative establishment – part-theatre, part-hydrogen fuel cell development laboratory. As well putting on acclaimed theatre productions and hosting experiential theatre events, the theatre itself was set up with the goal of being carbon neutral and clean tech focused.
A huge thank you to everyone who came and made the night so special. And, special thanks to: 6head Nicola for organizing and facilitating, Simon Cole from Hackney Tours for curating and leading the evening with such energy and insight, and to all our fabulous and contributors.