Here is my manifesto for the £1 Campaign! Feel free to copy and paste into an email, reblog, retweet, share on Facebook, anything you usually do to communicate with the world! Of course anyone can donate a pound, you don’t have to live in Kenilworth – I can give you bank account details – but it’s a way of opening the project up to local people and asking for their support without expecting too much in terms of financial investment, and of trying to convey that their £1 will pay manifold dividends in terms of community benefits. So here is the deal:
THE ONE POUND CAMPAIGN FOR THE TREE HOUSE
People tell us that the arts are a luxury, only for the elite, a waste of resources. Arts funding is being cut – often by 100% – across the country. We live in an age of increasing anti-intellectualism, where all that is deemed important is what generates wealth. We need wealth; we also need to have our minds and imaginations nurtured and developed. Reading does this.
Books, we are told, are dying in the face of developing electronic and digital technology (never mind that lots of books will never be available electronically); bookshops are a thing of the past; town high streets will inevitably be replaced by cost-effective malls and online shopping.
All of this can only happen if we let it. I am setting up the Tree House – a not-for-profit second-hand bookshop and community hub – partly to help to stop the rot, but mainly because I love books, and because I think that books as a means of drawing together the community can only be a good thing!
I realised that if everyone living in Kenilworth gave £1 to the Tree House start-up fund, we would be able to get up and running and have everything sorted without having to find loans. Then I realised that even if half the people living in Kenilworth gave £1, we would still be in that position! That put things into perspective. So I am starting a campaign to raise funds by encouraging local people to give just £1 to the Tree House.
This would give everyone a sense of sharing in the project from the start, with just a small financial investment. I would like to think the benefits of the Tree House for everyone will more than compensate for this small start-up donation.
The Tree House will be somewhere for all ages. It will be different things to different people and at different times, but there will be something for everyone. The Tree House, as its name suggests, will be a den, either as a place of refuge or a meeting place; a place of cultural and intellectual stimulation, and a place of fun; a place to enjoy; a place that is friendly, a place that is discreet. All depending on your mood, and on what the Tree House offers at different times. Books are the heart of the Tree House; but there will also be films, talks, poetry readings, writing workshops, music, stories. I hope there will be a quiet space for those who need somewhere to write – that depends on the premises, though even with small premises, we could have quiet days (just as we could have children’s story day, or tea and cake days, or other sorts of more sociable days).
The Tree House is a business, but one that supports and is supported by the community. The manager draws a wage, but all profits will go to local charities. It will offer opportunities to volunteer – perhaps work experience for those at school, or experience and confidence building for those out of work. There will also be opportunities for people to use their skills as performers or communicators. It will be a dynamic business because it will involve local people being who they are and taking it in directions we can’t yet see.
So if you think any of this is a good idea, please express your support by donating £1 to the Tree House. If half the people in the town were to do this, we would have the funds to establish the Tree House in permanent premises, and to make all of this a reality.
The Tree House has one very simple aim – to put reading at the heart of community.