David Bowie, in his Aladdin Sane guise, is featured on the new local currency you can only use in the Brixton district of South London. Known as the Brixton Pound, or the B£, the first round of the notes in 2009 featured Olive Morris, the radical political activist who founded the Brixton Black Women’s Group and played a pivotal role in the squatters’ rights campaigns of the 1970s; scientist James Lovelock who developed the ‘Gaia’ theory; C L R James, Trinidadian journalist, historian and socialist; and painter Vincent Van Gogh.
This new series of B£ notes pays tribute to Bowie; Black Cultural Archives founder Len Garrison; Chicago Bull Luol Deng and brave WWII spy Violette Szabo.
I appreciate that the folks behind the B£ (Transition Town Brixton) designed the money to call attention to luminaries who were either born in, raised or lived in Brixton. It draws people in emotionally and it’s a great way to start a conversation among residents of the district about what alternate currencies are, helping support local businesses and encouraging trade to stay in the local area, things most people would never even consider or think about these days. As a former Brixton resident myself (not that I’m hinting about anything!), I’m wondering when Nick Cave, Mick Jones and Paul Simonon from The Clash, and Linton Kwesi Johnson will receive the honors.
If you’re curious about how an alternate currency works in a fully urban setting, check out this video, it’s worth your time:
Below, the B£1 pound note that pays tribute to Olive Morris, political activist, pioneering black feminist and squatters rights champion who died at the age of 27 from cancer in 1979: