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What makes your park blossom?

April 29, 2009

Brummie Dave Harte reckons his local park in Cotteridge might be the best park in the city. Why? :

Friends of Cotteridge Park are the very active group that look after the interests of the park. They were set up to stop the planned de-commissioning of the park for housing in the late 90s. There’s a bit of history on their website (including the fact that apparently during the war the park was used to store barrage balloons) but to give you a flavour of the work they’ve done:

  • Redeveloped some derelict land into an orchard
  • Organise a Christmas tree recycling point
  • Built a fantastic natural amphitheatre in the park for open air concerts
  • Lobbied for and got a skate park, new playground equipment and re-surfacing of the dilapidated tennis and basketball courts
  • Run a toy bank and volleyball games during the summer
  • Do tons of traditional fund-raising with quiz nights etc.,

And of course they won the battle to save the park in the first place. Their most recent plans are for a funky shelter building.

The friends have responded to Dave’s “maybe” by setting up this Facebook group. I have to declare an interest here. I’ve known Cotteridge park for many year and interviewed the organisers of the friends group way back in 2005. My own local park has it’s own passionate friends group and  the following conference film from Stoke recognised the importance of making parks a pleasure to use and something which people feel they own.

In nearby Bakewell Park progress is being reported:

Thanks to 64-year-old Richard Talbot and his efforts, and now a committee of local people, restoration work is now under way and the park will be back open for business by August. And to ensure it lasts, rather than suffering the sad demise it did fifteen years ago, the park will be managed and run by the group – the first example of such an arrangement in the city

Parks blossom when people care about them.  The effort of fighting for them builds social capital and refines skills which in turn can influence people’s self confidence, sense of place, health and employability.

But what does it take to make this happen?

Image from .Sarah Hamstera.

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