Opportunities in Nine Elms - for volunteers and activists.

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Are you living in the borough of Wandsworth and interested in community, culture, mysticism, or the development of consciousness? Are you interested in such things as community libraries, Fringe theatre, the performing arts, community support, helping the homeless, and doing things differently? We are looking for volunteers and activists to help develop the Qultura community in Nine Elms.

What is Qultura?

Qultura essentially is a derivative of Therevada Buddhism and some people have said that it is very similar to Buddhism and the Tao Te Ching. This means that Qultura is a method of enquiry, a system of developing consciousness, learning about mysticism, learning about life, learning about yourself and other people through the development of creativity, development of empathy, development of community and development of culture.

The foundation premise of Qultura is simple - all human trauma and suffering is based on human divisions and perceptions of division. However unlike Buddhism and the Tao Te Ching, Qultura is much more focussed on community and the environment. Some degree of trauma and division is inevitable in life, but the only way to overcome trauma and suffering is to overcome the divisions and perceptions of division. This is achieved, through Qultura, through getting involved in your local community, developing your individual creativity, developing empathy with others, developing new culture, developing local community.

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Our founding principle

Qultura was first developed in Nine Elms by Fringe dramatist Stella Baker and session guitarist Ian 'Fibbo' Fibbens out of Qultura Fringe in November 2009 as an empathy based community. Qultura Fringe was a small developing Fringe theatre company. Our founding principle was that everybody is somebody, and everyone should have completely free access to opportunities to explore and develop their individual creativity, get involved in their community, and develop local community culture.

We are a community set up primarily to support people who either don't fit in neatly into society or their local community, either because they are creative and not that much into conformity, or because they have lost their position and place in the community through being marginalized, excluded, left behind, stigmatized or worse.

It was the riots in 2011 where we managed to break through control of opportunities for local community culture by organizations when Wandsworth Council agreed to support our community and work by granting us free access to community space so that we could create opportunities for people living in the borough. This has not always been an easy relationship, given the fact that Wandsworth Council also likes to support property developers and give them lots of space as well. We spent some years in space on the Sleaford Street Industrial Estate supported by local businesses until property developers moved in there as well.

However since 2019 we've been based at the ROSE Community Centre in Nine Elms and our relationship with Wandsworth Council is much improved and Wandsworth Council's Arts and Culture team is now very supportive of our work.

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What we mean by 'free access' to opportunities

We're very clear on what we mean by 'free access' to opportunities to local community culture. Participation in the Qultura community is, always has been, and always will be completely free of charge for everyone. No money changes hands ever between members of the Qultura community and if we develop community projects and events for members of the local community, they too have free access to such community projects.

This is based on the principle that local community culture, and what local community culture is, should always be determined by the people living in that local community. Not by us. Not by the Council. Not by any other organization. But by the people living in that community.

But also please note that 'free access' also applies to ideology and belief systems, be they religious, political or social. Our community is very much a community where you can be you, you can do you, and we encourage everyone to be real, to talk their talk, walk their walk and live their truth. We don't have time for petty political or ideological squabbles. Your life, your community, your reality, this is the only reality you own and once culture becomes mainstream or mass culture, that's when it starts working against you.

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Moving beyond COVID-19

We're currently seeking new volunteers and activists to get involved with our COVID-19 recovery strategy and the rebuilding of our community after lockdown and the closure of the ROSE Community Centre. During lockdown we decided to focus much more heavily on development of our community Message Board and develop everything out of this and as we stick fairly religiously to lockdown requirements, especially when it comes to social distancing and masks, we'd like to continue to develop everything out of our community Message Board for the foreseeable future.

We're also mindful of the fact that the COVID-19 pandemic has cost lives, and it has also thrown the lives of many people into complete disarray. People have lost jobs, businesses, homes, and many people are either struggling, isolated, lonely, or all three. We don't envisage that everything will go back to normal quite so smoothly, and also, we're not sure that everything should be returning to any so called "normal". The current chaos is a good opportunity to try out different things, explore, experiment, learn and discover.

So please keep this in mind as you look through the areas and opportunities which we are trying to develop.

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Empathy, new culture and community

We're looking to expand on the success of the ROSE community library, our first community library in the community, and develop on various community projects listed below. Our general theme is empathy, new culture and community.

We're looking for volunteers and activists to help develop our community Message Board, build on the structure, and help moderate and administer the various (online) community projects. Part of this involves developing a new community blog which people can make contributions to to share their perspectives, creativity, narratives, writing, music, art, photography, stories, poetry, and so on and so forth.

Please understand that we are very much a subversive community. Subversion is about the outward creative expression of individual truth and as we're about the creation and development of new culture in the local community we're always interested in hearing from people who like to crank out new creative content from different perspectives. All that we require is that your content be original and based on an individual human perspective.

Similarly we're seeking volunteers and activists to help create and develop social media content - memes, posts, videos, podcasts - on social media platforms and give each social media community a genuine community feel with content coming from different contributors.

Our chosen social media platforms are MeWe, Reddit and Quora, and then there's also Patreon and Vimeo. Note that we have recently identified Facebook as a political organization and have decided not to develop further our presence on Facebook, Instagram or Whatsapp.

The ROSE Community Library was, up until COVID-19 and lockdown, our most popular and successful community project. It started out as a dozen books on a shelf at the ROSE Community Centre which were made available to anyone who wished to borrow them and bring them back. No membership, no registration, no library fines. Just take a book, read it and bring it back. The library now fills several bookshelves and contains hundreds of books across different genres for all ages from small children to erm.. adults with 'memories'.

Our community library projects are supported by both Wandsworth Council and the Battersea Power Station development and both have said that they would like to see more community libraries being developed. As we're running out of space at the ROSE we're interested in developing new community libraries in new community spaces and we also need volunteers who can pop in when community spaces reopen to help keep the books in order. It's a simple task which would take around an hour or so for two or more volunteers and we'll be happy to supply coffee, tea and a bite to eat.

We're also looking to redevelop Qultura Fringe, which is our oldest community project, into a new performing arts community which takes in Circle Village West, The Duchess Belle pub in Battersea Park Road and community spaces. This will be a new performing arts community for actors, writers, directors and others which is non-commercial, subversive, and run and maintained by said actors, writers, directors and others.

Battersea and Nine Elms has a longstanding connection with the Fringe in London. The Battersea Barge predates the Edinburgh Fringe by a year being established in 1962 and derived from the Royal Iris, the Mersey ferry which was instrumental in establishing music culture in Liverpool. Therefore we feel that Battersea and Nine Elms needs a proper performing arts community which spawns new theatre and film directors, new acting and new writing.

We're seeking to establish a community of professional actors at Circle Village West with Fringe performances at The Duchess Belle and new drama workshops being developed in community spaces where anyone living in the community can walk into and learn all about drama, acting, theatre, film making and the performing arts free of charge.

This will be a subversive community, centred around new drama, new comedy, entirely non-commercial, with an emphasis on developing and maintaining a high artistic standard and the integrity of the empty space as a venue where performers and audiences can come together to share drama and individual truth.

We've been asked by Wandsworth Council to develop a new focus on community support projects. With this in mind we'd like to develop new community drop in centres in community spaces which link back to our community Message Board and social media communities

Asking around various people in the local community people have expressed that they need support with such things as Universal Credit, Personal Independence Payment (PIP) assessments, housing issues, immigration, and we'd also like this to be the point of initial contact into developing Qultura methodology as well as a means of support for people struggling to overcome loneliness, isolation, and get involved in the local community.

We are therefore looking to hear from anyone interested in becoming a volunteer or activist to help develop better. more accessible community support and an access point where people from the local community can access the Qultura community. We're especially interested in hearing from people who have direct first hand experience of dealing with the benefits system, especially Universal Credit and PIP and who can help develop effective community support strategies.

We've also been asked by Wandsworth Council to develop new food sharing community projects. This is all at the ideas stage so this could be anything from a luncheon club, a soup run, and what we are hoping to do is to develop alternative food sharing initiatives to food banks and in support of food banks, working not just with the Council, but also New Covent Garden Market, local supermarkets and others.

As we have no previous catering experience we would like to find volunteers willing to undergo training at Mission Kitchens on the New Covent Garden Market site to become qualified in catering standards and food hygiene so they can come back and help develop our native food sharing initiatives. We will also need volunteers and activists who can help source and gather resources to support not just the sharing of food but also the transport and other resources such as space and expenses to cover such things as transport. This is so that, obviously we can purchase catering standard equipment and also so that nobody is left out of pocket.

This is a long term community support initiative. Our research shows that as many as 20 people every day commit suicide in the UK with a child committing suicide every six weeks or so. Prior to COVID-19, according to CHAIN statistics, in London, someone lost their home and was thrown out onto the streets every two hours.

Currently the Samaritans is the only organization which reliably collates statistics on suicides. Throughout we have been concerned with the issues of social stigma and social exclusion. In seeking to develop the Qultura community, we are anxious that the Qultura community develops a strong sense of solidarity with the homeless, the socially excluded, the marginalized, the sick, the destitute, the weak, people with disabilities, the elderly, the vulnerable, asnd that our commitment to such people is just as strong as our commitment to supporting people who are different, who are creative, and who just don't fit in.

This means that we place a very high value on people who become volunteers and activists who themselves have lived through, experienced or survived personal trauma and who can share insight which can be beneficial to others in the community. We are not an organization, we are very much a community of people who come together to function as a community and act as a new, significant community resource to other members of the wider community.


 

How to figure out our system of volunteering

Please keep in mind our strong commitment to our Founding Principle - local community culture is determined by the individual members of the local community. We are not a charity, we are not an organization, we are a community of like-minded people who work together to develop new culture in the local community. We're in the process of developing Qultura Core as a new Community Interest Company (CIC), Qultura Core being the central hub or nucleus of the entire Qultura community centred or based in Nine Elms currently at the ROSE Community Centre.

During lockdown we developed a new 'universal' system of volunteering which is designed to be self-identifying, self-regulating and self-perpetuating. Everything starts on our community Message Board. This is where we get to know one another, discuss new ideas, and how we develop our community projects and activities. We also use email, social media groups and Zoom and also text messages and phone calls. But we develop everything out of the community Message Board as it's a central location which is easily accessible to everyone.

To keep everything simple we work to universal principles and have three broad categories of volunteer (explained below). All the information you need is contained on our websites (links below), there's a book titled The Principle and the Process which you can access for free which gives you a solid basis in Qultura methodology, and if you still can't find the information you need we encourage you to get in touch and ask.

Please also note that all our volunteering roles are designed to be fluid and flexible. You can create your own volunteering role, mix and match different roles between different community projects, switch roles, try out new roles, get involved in different projects, just as you volunteer when and how you like, as often as you like, and come and go as you please.

As long as you're not hurting or harming anyone, messing anyone around, using our community for personal gain or profit, or making anyone miserable it's all good.


 

How to get involved

In order to get involved and become a Qultura volunteer or activist, you first need to be a member of the Qultura community. This means you need to do two things:

Join the Qultura Core network
The easiest way to do this is to click on the grey speech icon (our Formbutton) and send us a blank message with your name and your email address. This will make you part of our Qultura Core network.
Register on our community Message Board
Then in the top menu on our website click on 'Message Board' to access our community Message Board and register for an account. This will give you access to our community Message Board.

Then what you need to do is to head to the Qultura Core CIC website (link below) and fill out a Volunteer Proposal Form which is a PDF form and submit it to the email address on the form. You can find out how to do this by accessing Resources > How do I..? from the top menu. Once you submit the form we will get in touch and take it from there.

The Qultura Core CIC website