Inspired by Francis Kéré’s stories of gathering, debate and community around a tree in his village of Gando, Burkina Faso, the Serpentine Pavilion 2017 hosted a series of community picnic talks: Radical Kitchen: Recipes for Building Community and Creating Change.
On eight Wednesdays in July and August, a London community group or campaign organisation assembled in Kéré’s Pavilion at 1pm to share their recipes for creating and sustaining meaningful social change in the city. Deepening the connection with food, these groups met over a meal prepared by Mazí Mas, the pop-up restaurant and award-winning social enterprise established for and run by migrant women. Visitors to the Serpentine Pavilion were also able to purchase food by Mazí Mas, with all proceeds going back to their work.
Daily life in London is challenging for many due to rapid gentrification and the displacement and dispersal of many once tight-knit communities. How can the city sustain a sense of community and resilience? Founded in 2014, Mazí Mas are a powerful example of a project making meaningful impact on the ground. Recognising that many migrant or refugee women are locked in a cycle of unemployment, Mazi Mas gives skilled home cooks training, payment and support to create sustainable livelihoods for themselves.
Inspired by this model, the Serpentine invited other groups creating sustainable projects and campaigns in their communities to this new strand of the Pavilion programme. Themes of care, solidarity, survival and resilience ran throughout the work of the eight groups involved in Radical Kitchen, which tackled issues as diverse as housing rights, gentrification, food poverty, unemployment, migration, motherhood and community empowerment. These weekly talks opened up discussion to the wider public, exploring questions developed in conversation with Francis Kéré and building on his own ideas of socially-engaged architecture, as embodied in the Serpentine Pavilion 2017.
RADICAL KITCHEN PROGRAMME
5th July 2017
Mazí Mas and Francis Kéré
Mazí Mas is a social enterprise dedicated to supporting women from migrant and refugee communities. It provides opportunities for women who aspire to careers in the food industry to gain paid work experience, develop their skills, tell their stories, and connect with the wider public.
12th July 2017
Women for Refugee Women
Women for Refugee Women’s mission is to ensure that women and children seeking asylum in the UK are treated with justice and dignity. It works to empower women who have sought sanctuary in the UK to speak out about their own experiences to the media, to policy makers and at public events. It hosts weekly English lessons, therapeutic activities such as yoga and drama, legal advice and nutritious lunches, seeking to provide a supportive and welcoming space to help combat feelings of isolation and vulnerability in women at all stages of their asylum claims.
19th July 2017
London’s first community fridge, based in Brixton, is a public fridge where people and businesses can donate spare food – or food that would otherwise go to waste – so others can go to the fridge to pick up what they need.
26th July 2017
FOCUS E15 and Architects for Social Housing
The Focus E15 campaign began in 2013 when a group of young mothers were served eviction notices by East Thames Housing Association after Newham Council cut its funding to the Focus E15 hostel for young homeless people. Due to cuts to housing benefit and a lack of affordable housing in London, the mothers were advised they would have to accept private rented accommodation as far away as Manchester, Hastings and Birmingham.
Architects for Social Housing (ASH) was set up in 2015 to respond architecturally to London’s housing ‘crisis’. It is a working collective of architects, urban designers, engineers, surveyors, planners, film-makers, photographers, web designers, artists, writers and housing offers support, advice and expertise to residents who feel their interests and voices are increasingly marginalised. While its primary responsibility is to existing tenants and leaseholders, ASH also seeks to find viable alternatives to estate demolition in the interests of the wider London community.
2nd August 2017
You Make it!
Piloted from founding CEO’s Asma Shah’s kitchen table in Bethnal Green, You Make It offers a creative and inspiring programme for young women that puts individuality and self-esteem at its core. It empowers young unemployed women with the confidence, skills, networks, knowledge and experiences needed to realise their passions and pursue their goals – to ensure all women, regardless of background, have access to the same opportunities to lead happy, independent and fulfilled lives.
9th August 2017
16th August 2017
The Nzinga Effect
The lives of African women are often the subject of discussion but rarely are these women given a platform to speak for themselves. The Nzinga Effect publishes content and organises events focusing on the stories of African women and women of African descent, driven by a belief that the world deserves to hear about and meet with the many women from Africa changing their countries, their continent and their world. Nzinga defines Africa as the five regions of the continent, and the diaspora. Connection leads to conversation, conversation to collaboration, collaboration to transformation.
23rd August 2017
Build Up puts young people in control of construction projects that make a lasting contribution to their local community. Working across the capital and from its base in East London’s Cody Dock, Build Up gives young people the opportunity to make real decisions and influence their local area. Founded in 2014 in response to growing place based inequalities, the charity aims to create a generation of young people who are not limited by where they have grown up.