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links for 2009-05-20

May 20, 2009
  • "Architects have come up with designs for how Moseley would look if a revolutionary scheme to remove bollards, kerbs and traffic signals gets backing. Under the plans, creating a single level for roads a pavements would mean there would be no clear boundaries for drivers, pedestrians and cyclists and no marked crossings or traffic lights.

    Instead road users would be forced to find their own route through busy junctions and, according to the creators, approach more safely. The success of shared space schemes – also known as “naked street” – at slashing accident rates in Holland have led to UK councils introducing them in congested towns centres"

    Could "naked streets" improve areas in the West Midlands?

Northfield Eco Centre

May 20, 2009

Northfield Eco Centre, based in Northfield Birmingham (which has had it’s share of economic problems since the demise of the car industry), is set up to be a “friendly place where people can meet & learn from each other about all aspects of sustainable living.”

As well as offering advice and being somewhere where local people can take awkward recycling, the centre runs event and provides a model for sustainable living.

Northfield Ecocentre Home
Uploaded with plasq‘s Skitch!

“We are monitoring our building use to find out our impact on the environment. We have a range of data monitors for this purpose and are developing our energy policy. Everything we do is a working demonstration to find out what works and what is practical to produce less carbon.”

They also have a blog and a Facebook Group.

Better Environments, Better Lives Blog

May 7, 2009

This site is a place to continue debate about the issues raised by the ‘Better Environments, Better Lives’ conference.  Although you do not need to have attended the conference to join in, it’s all based around the theme of environmental justice, and to talk about how we can:

  • breathe new life into the poorest environments, from neglected rivers to brownfield land sites
  • maximise funding opportunities, harness the power of partnerships
  • ensure environmental improvements are community driven and owned
  • maximise the wider benefits for businesses and communities.

Please comment on anything that captures your interest, contibutions are very welcome – please get in touch and join us on the blog.

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.

links for 2009-04-29

April 29, 2009

links for 2009-04-24

April 24, 2009

Get Walking, Keep Walking in Birmingham

April 24, 2009

Tackling environmental inequality is partly about policy shift and partly about every day action. The video above (and also found on Be Birmingham’s youtube channel here ) tells the story of how The Ramblers have recently begun a programme of urban walks in some of the West Midlands poorest neighbourhoods.

Walking our streets isn’t simply good for our health, it can change how people understand the palce they live in, give them the information and the connections to make changes and also makes streets busier and so hopefully safer.

One more step towards shifting environmental inequalities.  More details on this website, and the project leaders in Birmingham have just begun blogging, including news here of the national get walking day on May 30th 2009.