Remember 2008? The biggest economic crash of our time hit us the same year as this magazine. Yes, it’s Now Then’s tenth birthday. In the small but beautifully-formed world of Sheffield, this publication has been making waves for a decade.

Every previous issue of Now Then is online, so it’s easy to look back. The first issue arrived with attitude, with a manifesto: “Unfiltered by government or corporate sources.” The strange, hallucinogenic street art of Phlegm beautified that first magazine. A series of intelligent essays covered topics from Freedom of Information to Palestine. There were adverts for Harland Cafe when it was still called Cafe Euro, and Rare and Racy when it still was. A spliff-covered cartoon cake by Phlegm lit up the tenth anniversary of Golden Harvest head shop. Happy days. Where are they now? Well actually, Golden Harvest flitted to Abbeydale Road, away from city centre prices and planning hassles.

Now Then isn’t afraid to be critical. Writers in the first issue took a swipe at things like Sheffield “pissed on by money-hungry property developers”. How far we’ve come since 2008. They criticised motorists, arms manufacturers and academy schools with the subtitle, ‘A few reasons why businessmen with agendas shouldn’t be in charge’. Another article scoffed at government counting of rough sleepers, which reported only 11 in the whole city, when a Salvation Army manager could name over 50.

Above all, Now Then stands for what’s best about Sheffield – the independent creativity of the people. It offers an invitation to get involved, and over the last ten years hundreds of people have done just that. Putting your words or art into print is a big deal. It doesn’t always come easily, but it feels more permanent than tossing something into the flotsam and jetsam of the social media stream. A write-up can make someone well-known locally, and perhaps further afield, not just “famous for a few years based on nowt apart from stripping down to your kegs in Big Brother” (quoting issue one again). In fact, Sheffield doesn’t do ‘locally famous’, and that’s good. There are no socialite party pages in the local press, parading pictures of pampered parasitic wannabes. We don’t care to over-hype the landed, lauded or lorded.

Sheffield is a humble but shrewd city, and like everywhere, there are multiple networks. In that first issue of Now Then, lecturer Tom Stafford described social network analysis and the discovery that society is really arranged in ‘small worlds’. Don’t imagine there’s a bigger world out there, in which the rich and famous are somehow different. They’re not. Power often doesn’t improve people. On the contrary, they can become a Trump.

We’ve got the power to speak. Got something to say, to show, to question? Why not get into Now Then? It encourages participation, activism and creativity – and it makes the small world of Sheffield media richer, deeper and more exciting.

alt-sheff.org

SHEFFIELD ENVIRONMENT WEEKS
APR-JUN | VARIOUS LOCATIONS

Talks, walks, activities and lots of fun are available, as the good people of Sheffield throw themselves outdoors and get stuck into the environment, especially during the sunnier months. From urban agriculture to wildlife conservation, there’s a whole programme of events. See the timetable on the website.
sheffieldenvironment.org 

WORK NOT CHARITY
UNTIL TUE 17 APR | 11AM-3PM | THE ART HOUSE, S1 4HJ

Who knew that Sheffield had a home and retraining workplace for disabled veterans called Painted Fabrics, from the First World War until the late 1950s? This exhibition, inspired by Painted Fabrics, is open Monday to Saturday, with a café on site. It’s part of a Workers’ Educational Association (WEA) project.
arthousesheffield.co.uk

Hosted by Alt-Sheff