November 4, 2022

Who is it for?

Bonfire night in Lewes is a sight to behold.  But in my view, the most interesting thing about it is how it has resisted commercialisation.

Unlike Halloween, which has become yet another excuse to produce and consume yet more pointless stuff, Bonfire in Lewes is about Lewes and Bonfire.    It commemorates local martyrs by raising money locally and spending it locally.  Lewesians young and old get involved all year round raising money, creating displays and effigies, finally, celebrating the day itself with marches, music and spectacular fireworks.

No concessions are made to tourists or spectators.  It always takes place on November the 5th, unless that falls on a Sunday.  There are no safety barriers, no interpretation boards, barely any interaction beyond the collection bucket.    It’s not for them.

Bonfire in Lewes is for Lewes.  It’s not about production or consumption.  It’s about something much bigger than that.

It’s about culture.  It’s about continually recreating Lewes as a radical, self-aware and connected community with a mind of its own.  A place and culture where Tom Paine would still feel comfortable.

No wonder the authorities want to ban it.

Your business has a culture too.   Who is it for?   And what are you doing to continually recreate it, on purpose?