A place where people can meet and talk and plan and change the world!
The Sumac Centre is nestled in a community in inner city Nottingham. It’s been open as a community and activist resource and social centre for 5 years. It grew out of a smaller rented space called the Rainbow Centre (established 1985) when the organising crew decided they wanted more control over the centre and to own their own space.
The Sumac is run as a co-operative through a series of smaller collectives (such as the Bar and Garden Collectives). All the collectives are open for anyone to get involved, and run using the principles of non-hierarchy. The whole centre is run by volunteers, which can be a challenge, but makes a very rewarding and relaxed working environment.
During the week, the Sumac is mainly used as an activist resource centre. The Sumac has provided essential support for many grassroots social and environmental justice campaigns through its facilities such as meeting spaces, radical library, gathering-hosting and a printing press. These are groups like the Camp for Climate Action, Nottingham Defy-ID or Nottingham Animal Rights. It also provides our local community with access to radical literature and ideas through the radical library, film showings and speaker events. The space is also used regularly by a home education kids group, and has also seen kids gardening sessions and community craft fairs.
On the weekend, the Sumac transforms into a social hub for the local and activist community. The Sumac is a friendly non-corporate space that the community frequent to meet, eat, drink and conspire! There is a popular bar stocking local real ales and other quality drinks. It hosts gigs by local bands and a kids’ night every Thursday where local families are able to come and socialise. Cheap, healthy evening community meals are cooked up every Saturday, and often on Friday by a refugee group, or on Wednesdays if there is a film or talk. Many people say these are the only decent meals they get all week!
Veganism is something of great importance to the Sumac Centre, which has a long history of supporting the animal rights movement, and everything that is sold in the centre is 100% vegan. We are the only 100% vegan venue in Nottingham, and are even brewed special vegan beers by our local brewery, Springhead.
Recently, the Sumac has been branching out into community popular education. Every Saturday sees a ‘Sumac Skillshare’ event, where a member of the local community runs a workshop on a skill they can share. This ‘school’ is being run to empower and reskill the local community, as well as to prepare us for the twin challenges of peak oil and climate change. Workshops so far have included food preservation, basic electrics, mass catering, bike maintenance and planning direct action. The skillshare has been a really inspiring success – get in touch if you want to know more!
Veggies are an integral part of the Sumac Centre and of the Rainbow Centre before that. They are a vegan catering campaign that sets up burger vans at festivals and protests, feeding the hungry without exploiting animals since 1984! They are to be found lurking in the Sumac basement making sosages and burgers or rushing in and out loading and unloading vans as they get ready for their 3 events that weekend! They have also built up an excellent field kitchen and with volunteers from the Sumac, they have fed up to 300 people a meal at events like Camp for Climate Action or the eco-village at Stirling during the protests against the G8 in 2005.
So where now for the Sumac? Nottingham currently has a flourishing activist scene, which the Sumac has helped grow and support. Hopefully this will go from strength to strength! Having recently done some major refurbishments, we are now thinking about rebuilding the outbuildings using eco-building techniques to extend our resource centre.
The Sumac Independent Community and Social Centre is at 245 Gladstone Street, Nottingham. Phone: 0845 458 9595 or email on sumac [at] veggies [dot] org [dot] uk. Their webpage is at www.sumac.org.uk
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