What a year! Thank you so much for joining us on this fantastic journey. When we started this project, on the 30th May 2015, we set out to prove that regenerating an empty building into a useful political, community and social space was really not that difficult and maybe didn’t need all the reams of paperwork and applications for funding, all the red-tape and costly admin that eventually sinks most great ideas. We wanted to pioneer a no-nonsense blueprint that made things happen.
As I sit here, the new year still ringing in my ears and the hundreds of amazing moments I have witnessed jostling for space in my memory, I can’t help but think back to the small group of volunteers and crew that sat together in that empty space and visualised what we were going to do. I don’t think any of us could have imagined this! And yet we have almost a whole year left to continue to prove our point – that with the right systems and mindset anything can be recycled to be of value.
We wanted to show that you could solve any number of social issues using space and time creatively. In every area of life we have tried to make sure the building impacts positively… art, culture, music, politics, sport, health, wellbeing, education, environment, economy, etc. And we documented the evidence. We have 6 small businesses started from the Hive, we have launched art careers and helped train sound and event technicians. We provide courses and classes and fitness clubs as well as alternative health festivals and film screenings, we host meetings and open mics. That’s why we called it the Hive. Human Interest Versatile Environment.
When I was asked to write the year end review of The Hive I thought long and hard about how I would review such a multi-faceted, multi-coloured place. Every member of the crew would review and remember the year differently. For some they will remember all the events that took place and the amazing people that came. For example Azja said “ What has amazed me the most is the variety of cultures that showcased samples from their own traditions… like one week we would host eastern european old classic film screenings, another week Peruvian shamans with their water ceremony… a truly eclectic mix of various collectives.” Others would point out the conferences and many political meetings and seminars that we have held and talk about the uniqueness of a space that offers such free expression.
But for me there have been a few highlights that will stay with me forever, things that don’t need to jostle for space in my head… the Dalai Lama’s Tibetan monks visit and the sand mandala. The ReSpacing Conference that brought together politicians and activists in one open space. The Tribal Gatherings and cacao ceremonies – where hundreds of people communed in mind, body and spirit. CalAID that filled both floors of the building with the kind donations of the local population. The visit of Ruth Barnett – Holocaust survivor – to tell her harrowing but powerful story. Lyrically Challenged‘s Summer Barbeque brought young an old together in a feast of music, poetry and fine foods. The time that the 19 Korean social leaders came to meet us and voted us the best social enterprise they had visited. The day Charles Landry came. The Freedom exhibition and the blood, sweat and tears we shed to open the building in time! The worlds largest accountancy firm Grant Thornton coming for a lecture on sustainable systems. Actually… there’s more than a few. There’s just too many to mention.
Along the way there have been tears of happiness and sadness, of joy and loss. We have worked hard, sometimes with little thanks, and we have worked long. We have lost some amazing people who have given everything to the project and had to step back to recover. And wonderful, talented people have come to push us forward to join the hardy ones that have stayed all the way. To them goes my eternal gratitude… truly giving meaning to the words “through thick and thin.” And all their sacrifices have been worth it so far. I thank each and everyone of them and you for making this project so incredibly beautiful and special.
In the “Field of Dreams” it said “If you build it, they will come.” Well we built it and they came. Now together we shape it and change will come.