TEDx Brixton Blog


Transformations: Are they always for the best?

Brixton has been in the news again: not for its amazing artists or music venues or socially-aware photography gallery; Not for the international foodstuffs or the stunning fabrics or the array of other goodies that market-goers can discover; Not even for the warming Soup Kitchen that is being so highly frequented, nor why that is even so…

No, Brixton is in the news because of the reported ‘celebration’ of Margaret Thatcher’s death. The crowds, the police, the vandalism – all such familiar scenes and so easy to judge from afar. But was it really a party, or simply an opportunity for those who attended to express their emotions? An opportunity for participants to get physical or an outlet for how they feel about the lasting impact of political decisions?

Perhaps it was a call to arms: Let the future be different.

Whatever the reason, Brixton, in South London continues to embody all that is positive and negative about passion. For those who have never visited, it is a place to be wary of. For others, it is an ‘up-and-coming’ location, conveniently located at the end of the relatively speedy Victoria underground line. And for those who have lived there for a long time, or indeed all of their lives, it has changed, and changed, and changed

Yet, throughout every stage, Brixton has retained its unique voice and feisty spirit. The community vibe is palpable, the local stories inspiring and incredible.

For the inaugural TEDxBrixton, we wanted to explore the fact that Brixton is ever evolving and constantly moving. Its fascinating history is built on a continuum of transformation. In the 1920s it was the ‘Oxford Street of the south’. In the 1940s and 1950s, it became a destination for many West Indians – the Windrush Generation – and consequently home to a wonderful Caribbean market for more that fifty years.

It has been associated with riots for a very long time.

Nowadays, against a backdrop of vivid street art, film buffs, foodies and organic wine drinkers mingle with families doing their weekly food shop. The market, so close to demolition in 2010, thrives. Musicians and late night clubbers cross paths with early morning city commuters. Brixton buzzes with life and diversity.

Lambeth council continues to progress its ‘Future Brixton’ programme whilst local groups promote their own community improvement initiatives. Yet the recent arrival of a high-end estate agent, selling homes worth £1.75 million, has led some to ask,
‘Is this the end of Brixton? Are cappuccinos crushing its character?’

Change will always happen: we alter physically and emotionally every day. Technology influences our behaviour and economics impacts our lifestyles. We build, invest, optimise, downsize, streamline….

What we at TEDxBrixton would like to know is: are transformations – whether of places, people or politics – always for the best? We’d love to hear what you think. Join the conversation on our Facebook page. Or tweet us at @TEDxBrixton #tedxbrixton.