Today the sad news hit the Occupy movement that after the latest meeting with the courts it looks like the end of the Bank of Ideas might be sealed.
The judge gave it a little more than 7days before the place will have to be vacated returned to the actual owner UBS. (full story here)
During my numerous visits during the last weeks I have really come to love that place and what it offers to the people of this city.
Baring in mind the Bank of Ideas was only taken over a little less than a month ago I was from the beginning amazed how quickly the place was turned into a lively hub for all sorts of events, discussions, work shops and entertainment.
Right from the beginning it was true to it’s name. What it didn’t possess it monetary values it made up with a dedicated and talented array of people who wanted to help spreading ideas and positive vibrations. It really was and still is a place that welcomes people from all sorts of backgrounds to get involved and to contribute.
Within three weeks the former UBS building established a packed schedule with yoga sessions, photography and drum workshops, regular movie screenings, political readings, music gigs, African Dance classes and even a weekly cabaret.
The latter one really surprised me a little – because until the cabaret night I only had the impression that the place was all serious and political oriented. But the atmoshpere at the cabaret was everything but serious.
A formerly empty and soul-less open-plan office was turned into a circus variety show in front of a big and cheery audience.
That night really highlighted again for me what great and positive opportunities this otherwise unused empty building has to offer for the public – especially for people who might have lost their youth centres or community venues because of the recent government cuts – or who lost their home or the ability to afford the often expensive cultural life in the city.
It now even has it’s own sound recording studio which is run by a music producer who goes by the melodic name of Johnny Love aka the Pink General.
I got to know Johnny as this totally chilled out down to earth dude.
When pointing at this pirate flag on his studio window he told me about his biggest hero The Sea Shepherd. When I admited that I had never heard of him – Johnny explained that the Sea Shepherd aka Paul Watson is a legendary environmental activists who became known for sinking whaling boats by ramming them with his ship.
Check him out here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_Shepherd_Conservation_Society
But back to Johnny.
In a quiet corner office on the first floor he set up his little studio in which he offers his talent to musicians who in the “real” world might not be able to afford expensive studio time.
I bumped into one of his recording sessions with Brian Lubega – a London based hip hop artist who said with Johnny’s help he would finally be able to record his album.
There are many inspiring people like Johnny, Brian, the cabaret artists and the visitors who make this place the buzzing community centre that it is. But one must not forget the many people “behind the scenes” like the technicians who got this abandoned building up and running with electricity and internet within 2 weeks or the chef who cooks free food three times a day for any hungry soul. I really don’t know how he does that – seems like real magic to me.
I will try to report about these unsung heros here as well at a later point – but I know time is running out. Darn, I already miss that place.
But even though it will be a real loss for London – I know there are many empty buildings like this waiting to be occupied and turned into something great.
If you want to check out the Bank of Ideas here is all you need to know:
Bank of Ideas
29 Sun Street
London EC2M 2PS
Good Night! Sleep tight! 🙂