The story of A Sense of Place 4: Collaging the future

Continuing the story of us. It’s Spring 1997 and we’ve just got married.

And to be honest the local work around Liverpool and Manchester is not forming an orderly queue. We’re still running our ‘Transform your life’ personal programme, but really want to reach greater numbers of people by working with more organisations than we have so far.DSC01176

So we start working in Scotland. Our friend Janet had moved there after working with me on her future through our course ‘Finding the work you love’. And she’s now running a business in the community type organisation in Edinburgh called Friends of Craigmillar. (Now called Community Connections)

She asks us to come up and run a programme she’s got publicly funded through ‘Scotland Against Drugs’. It’s for people whose lives have been affected by the addiction of either themselves or close family members. And it’s not to cure them of their addictions, no one pretends you can do that in a few days of workshops. But rather it’s about giving people a safe place to talk and dream about what they’d like to do as part of having the better lives they’re now reaching for. Continue reading “The story of A Sense of Place 4: Collaging the future”

Social Enterprise Champions in London

I’ve told you before about our work with HCT, Britain’s largest social enterprise bus company.

Eight hundred people work for them, in London, Leeds, Wakefield, Hull, Bristol and the Channel Islands.

We’ve been running programmes with them for the last two years aimed at educating and inspiring groups of their people, mainly bus drivers, about the possibilities for social enterprise.

HCT Champions in Brixton.

Continue reading “Social Enterprise Champions in London”

Granby 4 Streets, June and July Markets

Below is our report of the June Market. We didn’t get to the July one because we were away camping.

On the last Saturday of May we had a gloriously sunny day for the Granby 4 Streets May Market and we all had a wonderful time.

In June the 4 Streets Market was effectively part of a Liverpool 8 Festival, with other street-level, community owned events happening in Windsor Street and Lodge Lane, as highlighted by essential Liverpool Blog Sevenstreets.

June 2012, Granby 4 Streets Market.

Continue reading “Granby 4 Streets, June and July Markets”

Running free: Lost Liverpool

First in a new occasional series from Ronnie. Running, who’d have thought it?

I love running. A simple enough sentence, you might think? But not one I’d have been able to write for most of my life. I couldn’t see the point. There they’d go. Trundle, trundle, round the outside of Sefton Park. And the only emotion they evoked in me was pity.

I’ve always loved walking. That’s why I’d see so many runners. We’d inhabit the same places, get in each other’s way. But I never wanted to join them. Not even with Sarah’s example to follow.

Lost Liverpool. Running through the past.

For much of our relationship Sarah has been  a runner. Early on she’d proudly tell me that she’d just done the Liverpool Women’s 10k ‘in 41 minutes’. I now know this is impressive. At the time I had nothing to compare it with and was, well, just happy to be pleased for her. If she was enjoying running well, fine. It was doing no one any harm, so good luck to her.

In time she became part of a group of ‘running mates’. A group of women responsible for disturbing my sleep early on Saturday mornings, when Sarah would set her alarm for shortly after dawn, and then go off running with this group of, to my way of thinking, masochists.

Continue reading “Running free: Lost Liverpool”

My Memorial Bench: A Continuing Story

Ronnie and granddaughter Ellie, on his bench, August 2007

A story begun in 2001, written up here in 2011, then updated just before Christmas 2017.

You know those benches that you see in public parks, with little plaques on with people’s names and dates on them? Well, I’ve got one. No dates on it, as I am not, of course, as of this current writing, dead. The City Council here calls them ‘Memorial Benches’, and I often used to speculate whether, one day, there’d be one with my name on it? Well, Sarah was obviously listening, and for my birthday in 2001, she bought me one.

Like a Secret Garden, the way in
Like a Secret Garden, the way in

And the place it’s in is no ordinary garden. It’s in the walled garden of a formerly grand merchant’s house, called Calderstones. And the formerly grand merchant’s house just over the road was called Quarry Bank. It became a school, the school John Lennon went to. Now John, as you probably know, didn’t like school. And would avoid as many lessons as possible, ‘sagging off’ as we call it round here. And the place he would ‘sag off’ to was the walled garden, my walled garden.

He wrote about it too. Continue reading “My Memorial Bench: A Continuing Story”

The story of A Sense of Place 3: And then we get married

Continuing the story of us. We’ve just left our jobs.

It’s November 1996 and we feel like we’ve just done the bravest thing we will ever do. And we also feel like we’re kind of ‘in recovery’ from having been employed by others for so long. Some mornings this feels exhilarating, but others our new status of ‘self-employed’ feels dangerously close to ‘unemployed’.

Late 1996. In Bath looking at possible places to run events. I lived in that purple jumper those days.

Continue reading “The story of A Sense of Place 3: And then we get married”

Granby 4 Streets, the May Market

Glorious sunshine for a street market day. Ronnie walks us round.

Cairns Street in the sunshine.

Today was perfect for a street market. And from early morning Cairns Street in Granby, Liverpool 8 got itself ready for a perfect day. Gazebos set up, stalls filled, music turned on. and soon the people started to arrive, knowing it’s the last Saturday of the month, the day of the Granby 4 Streets Market.

Dr Bike was there, with a constant queue of bikes to be fixed.
And James and Tom were running their stall again. No Jack this month. He’s in Denmark visiting Legoland!

Continue reading “Granby 4 Streets, the May Market”

The story of A Sense of Place 2: Expecting to fly

Continuing the story of us.

So, we roll into 1996 feeling like we’re on the way. We’ve been paid for our first gig, at Trafford Hall back in November. We’ve also learned our first lesson. Because we hadn’t said expenses would be extra when we agreed the price, we’ve actually made no money from the work! Spent it all on materials and printing and just putting it all together. Oh well, we won’t do that again. And anyway we’ve learned loads. An idea’s just an idea ’til you’ve tried it out in real life, and now we have.

What’s next? We’re full of confidence now. Thinking our ideas about senses and places and creativity could be applied almost everywhere. So we experiment.

1996, the Penny Lane collage. In a New York gallery, and in the Liverpool Echo.

While we’re both still doing four days a week at our day jobs in different housing associations, it seems like we spend the other three days and most of our evenings playing with possibilities for ‘a sense of place’. Continue reading “The story of A Sense of Place 2: Expecting to fly”

Granby 4 Streets, the market’s back

Update: The post below is from 2012. For this year, 2013, the Granby 4 Streets Market will be on the FIRST Saturday of each month from now to September.

Saturdays 6th April, 4th May, 1st June, 6th July, 3rd August, 7th September.

Saturday, 28th April 2012, Ronnie was in Granby. He explains why.

As you might have read elsewhere on this blog, I regularly walk around Liverpool just to see how it’s doing. It’s my home and I care deeply about it.

Well a couple of summers ago my walk brought me into Granby. An area of the city that I well knew was in trouble, and had been for ages. And they were having a street market. Of course! Against a backdrop of 130 empty and bricked up houses, the seventy or so people from the rest of the 200 houses in the area had decided to celebrate themselves and their place. It was a jaw-dropping moment for me.

They’d recently ‘planted up’ their four streets. For the pleasure of gardening them, but also to repossess them from the sense of desolation seeping out of all those empty homes. And now here they were out in those streets, buying, selling and sitting around laughing and talking with each other and their visitors.

By the people, of the people, for the people.

Continue reading “Granby 4 Streets, the market’s back”

The story of A Sense of Place 1: The idea

Beginning the story of the business Sarah Horton and I ran together from 1995, which later became the title of this blog.

It’s 1993 and Sarah and I have recently started living together in Liverpool. Each day she drives off to her job in Manchester, while I just go a couple of miles down the road to where I work in the centre of town.

Ronnie in 1994

I’m now a Director at Liverpool Housing Trust, where I began work as a volunteer back in 1975. I’d never intended to stay so long, but my desired career as a successful songwriter had never materialised! Besides, I’ve loved the work we’ve been doing providing decent housing for the people in the most need in Liverpool. And I’ve found really good friends here. Amongst them Sarah, who briefly passed through a few years ago. Continue reading “The story of A Sense of Place 1: The idea”