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Hackney Pirates

Professionals in trendy neighbourhood ‘giving back’ to the local community by nurturing literacy and creativity of their less-privileged young neighbours

Photo of Nadine Stares
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The gentrification of Hackney is London’s East End, has been well documented. However becoming trendy does not instantaneously have a positive effect. In fact, gentrification can just mean people are forced away.

The proliferation of expensive cheese and organic vegetable stands in Broadway Market is a sure sign that the neighbourhood is up and coming, but they don’t particularly cater to the community that was there before. The colonisation of local ‘working man pubs’ can also leave the regulars a little bemused and even alienated.

Harmony between these communities arises when people try to bridge the gap and make a connection. The recently established Hackney Pirates (http://www.bootstrapcompany.co.uk/19_hackney_pirates follows in the tradition of David Egger’s 826 Valencia project (http://826valencia.org).

Local volunteers offer their time by giving one-to-one attention in an out of school learning environment to develop young people’s literacy and creativity by giving them

This sort of tutoring can have a transformative effect on the kids, who may not experience this level of attention and academic support from their parents and it can also be rewarding for the young professionals who have moved to the trendy new area because they enjoy the neighbourhood, but have previously had little communication with the neighbours. 

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Photo of DeletedUser

DeletedUser

Great stuff - I also think there is an opportunity not only to connect with kids, but to think of creative ways to involve their parents. While kids may have clear tutoring needs, this program can be an entry point for their parents to connect with their new neighbors and get linked into new resources and activities they otherwise may not have known about or felt invited to participate in.

The school I helped to start up, English for Action, http://englishforaction.org/, had parallel programs for parents and children who were recent immigrants. Parents studied English, while their children participated in homework help and art workshops.

We also tapped into the resources of the parents who graduated from the program to return as Spanish instructors. This was not only a way for parents to apply their skills to generate additional income, but was also a great way for higher income, newcomers to the neighborhood to integrate with the Latino immigrant community in a relaxed learning environment.

In this light, it might be useful to consider a 'skills inventory' component in which teens and parents (not only the volunteer tutors and the children) are asked to list things that they'd like to teach, learn or give to the centre. This could amplify the types of meaningful exchange and mutually enriching relationships that emerge.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Interesting initiative, Nadine. Also related to concerns like this: http://www.openideo.com/open/vibrant-cities/inspiration/gentrification-another-perspective-on-revitalization/
Tip: If you hit the Update button on the right of your post you could go in and add that post to your Build Upon feature. That way the person who wrote it will get an email notification and is likely to come and join the great conversation you've started here as well. Creativity loves company, right? :^)

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Hi Nadine,

thanks for sharing!

Your comment about the attempt to give back to a community as you are involved in the gentrification of a neighborhood, reminded me a comment by one artist in Williamsburg who said that you can acknowledge that you're a hipster but instead of feeling guilty, choose to give back to the community.
The whole notion of the trade school is also very much aligned with the Hackney pirates:
http://www.openideo.com/open/vibrant-cities/inspiration/new-york-turns-the-spotlight-on-north-brooklyn-s-creative-communities/


Photo of LaTeisha

Great inspiration! This also reminds me of the NYC chapter of 826 featuring the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co ( http://www.superherosupplies.com/ ) and also of the Story Pirates ( http://storypirates.org/ ).

http://nymag.com/listings/stores/Brooklyn-Superhero-Co/

Photo of Nadine Stares

Eggers has also teamed up with British writer Nick Hornby by setting up the Ministry for Stories (http://www.ministryofstories.org/) behind the Hoxton Street Monster Supplies store (http://www.monstersupplies.org).
It's interesting how concentrated these activities have been in this area, where it is most needed.

Photo of Anne-Laure Fayard

Very nice to see the 826 Valencia replicated. I was going to post an inspiration about it when I saw yours. thanks for sharing.