Moving beyond ‘No’

Yes, I’ve been reading. But we’ll come back to that.

When I got talking to people in Granby in Liverpool, about seven years ago now, they asked me to help them get over a very specific problem:

“We all know what we don’t want. We don’t want our houses to be knocked down. So we’ve got very good, over many years, at opposing any and all plans to do this. The trouble is though, we can’t agree between us on exactly what it is we do want. So could you help?”

I said “Yes, maybe” and we began to work on something together, loads of us, that has largely worked. Not perfectly and it’s not finished. But we moved beyond that skilfully confident “no” to a curious and more friendly “yes,” and in so doing changed a piece of the Earth very much for the better.

What I hadn’t realised until this week was that in learning that lesson in Granby, that yes is stronger than no, we were beginning to learn something that may yet help to create a better future for the whole of the Earth, if we could be fairly quick about it. Continue reading “Moving beyond ‘No’”

Granby Street Market, September 2017

The great L8 Street Market is well into its eighth year now but I haven’t been around Granby or anywhere else much recently, so it was good to step out on a fine September morning and arrive at Granby again.

The Market runs pretty much all year now on the first Saturday of every month.
And since last year has run on Granby Street itself, the road being closed for it.
The market has grown and thrived in the extra space.

A real mixture of stalls here. All kinds of food, art, crafts, bike repairs, general interestingness and some they sum up as ‘car booty-ness.’

But best of all loads of people and the place itself. I was involved here for many years of course and it’s great to be back among friends again. Conversations flowing easily in the morning sun. Continue reading “Granby Street Market, September 2017”

Eleanor Rathbone and The 1918 Club

Today I had the honour of speaking at The 1918 Club. A lunch club for women set up in 1918 by Eleanor Rathbone and her great friend and companion Elizabeth Macadam, and thought to be the longest established gathering place for women in Liverpool. It was simply wonderful to be there.2I often mention Eleanor Rathbone on this blog and the fact that throughout my life she has been an inspiration to me, never more so than now as a group of us get our latest ‘Coming Home’ social venture going.

The thinking behind The 1918 Club was:

“After the armistice of 1918 the luncheon club idea was developed to preserve many of the friendships made during the war-period and many of the alliances forged through the suffrage campaign, and also to form new contacts amongst professional working women and social welfare workers.”

Up to this point of course clubs had been the preserve of men with women being expected to meet each other at home where they could talk about sewing or church-based activities. So the two suffragists and social activists will have been well aware of the radical nature of what they were up to. Continue reading “Eleanor Rathbone and The 1918 Club”

All in an L8 Day

Remembering Eleanor Rathbone & Jane Jacobs.

One day in Liverpool 8, walking through what the people of the place have done and are doing. And remembering two great women, Eleanor Rathbone and Jane Jacobs.Version 2Eleanor Rathbone you’ll well know about if you’ve been around this blog a while. Liverpool’s greatest suffragette and politician. From our first female City Councillor – for Granby, through votes for women, then as an MP changing all of our lives, our greatest social reformer and well overdue the posthumous Freedom of Liverpool so many of us are determined she should get. So our children and their children will know in whose benign shadow we all walk.

Seventy years dead but celebrated in her Granby this day.

And Jane Jacobs? Born 100 years ago and also celebrated on this one amazing day. We’ll come back to Jane, I am always coming back to Jane.

Early morning in Lodge Lane.
Early morning in Lodge Lane.
Thriving now through the independent efforts of its people.
Thriving now through the independent efforts of its people.

Continue reading “All in an L8 Day”

Good-night, Sweet Prince

prince-hall-of-fame
Prince Rogers Nelson.

We had a meeting yesterday, Friday, the Granby ‘legal team’ of Tracey Gore and me, in her office at Steve Biko Housing. And did eventually get to talk about organising the sale of some of the Community Land Trust houses as we’d planned.DSC02399

But not at first and not for a while. While waiting for others to arrive, for a good while we talked about Prince. Of all the times Tracey has seen him and of how lucky we’ve both been to be alive as his glorious music and uncompromising career have enriched our days and lives.

Walking away later I surprised myself by thinking of these lines from Hamlet:

“Good-night, sweet prince;
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest.”

Continue reading “Good-night, Sweet Prince”

Writing On The Wall: WoWFest 2016 in May

WoWFest tickets available here, now.
DSC02296I’m sitting here in front of the Palm House, a beautiful place in Liverpool I hardly ever visit, thinking about how I should tell you about WoWFest 2016, taking place in Liverpool over the whole of May.

Sefton Park Palm House, nothing to do with WoWFest.
Sefton Park Palm House, nothing to do with WoWFest. Except it’s where I’m writing this.

Shall I tell you the headlines? Do it chronologically? Group it into themes, like comedy, social significance or science fiction? Or tell you the bits of it that most interest me and why? Or shall I just tumble into it and see where that takes us?

Obviously ‘just tumbling into it’ gets the vote. So here goes.

The WoWFest is Liverpool’s  longest running literary festival by a long way, this being its 17th year. It’s put on by Writing on the Wall who, if you’ve been paying attention (and if not..?) you’ll have read a fair bit about on here over the last year or so. Continue reading “Writing On The Wall: WoWFest 2016 in May”

Sky Blue Black Vinyl Day

The sort of perfect day when no self respecting camera should be left in its bag. Fully charged up we go out, to a feast of colour and record shops.

First to Granby, a social call.
First to Granby, a social call.

But then all visits to Granby these last five years and more have been social visits. Where our conversations with each other have created the future.

A future now bursting into colour.
A future now bursting into colour.
So proud of our newly finished houses.
So proud of our newly finished Community Land Trust houses.
Particularly loving the yellow front door here.
Particularly loving the yellow front door here.

And don’t worry music fans, the Black Vinyl is coming later. Continue reading “Sky Blue Black Vinyl Day”

Perfect

Some things are just perfect aren’t they? Not in a showy kind of way. But just perfectly done or perfect in their very nature.DSC02157Let’s start with perfectly done. The latest 3 of our Community Land Trust Houses to be finished in Granby 4 Streets.

Perfect.
Perfect.

It would be fair to say more than a few of us have poured our hearts and souls into recovering and restoring these long empty houses.

And now they're ready.
And now they’re ready.
Ready to be homes again.
Ready to be homes again.

Continue reading “Perfect”

In Granby: The Street Market returns

This Saturday, 2nd April, sees the return of Granby 4 Streets Market. Now in its seventh year, the market this year moves out onto its new home on Granby Street itself.

Granby Street L8.
Granby Street L8.

We’re expecting Ducie Street, the last of the 4 Streets to go on site, to do so some time this summer.

Ducie Street, where the Markets were held last year.
Ducie Street, where the Markets were held last year.

So we’re moving out onto Granby’s historic trading street, as our direct tribute to the heritage of the area, where the whole of Granby Street was filled with shops, from Princes Avenue through to Upper Parliament Street. Public consultation we had done last year through Writing on the Wall came back strongly with the message of how much the shops are missed. So each month now we’ll be adding the Street Market in to the offers from our friends, the shop owners who’ve continued to trade on Granby Street. Continue reading “In Granby: The Street Market returns”

How to do Social Housing: Part Two

Continuing the true story of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust on siteGranby on site - 70

The second of two detailed parts of my story about exactly how to do social housing. Or at least, exactly how we’re doing it in Granby 4 Streets.

At the end of Part One we are deliriously winning the Turner Prize.
At the end of Part One we are deliriously winning the Turner Prize.
Assemble and a few of us are up in Glasgow at the Channel Four announcement.
Assemble and a few of us, though not me, are up in Glasgow at the Channel Four announcement.
The rest of us are in Liverpool watching it all together at The Small Cinema in Victoria Street.
The rest of us are in Liverpool watching it all together at The Small Cinema in Victoria Street.

Next morning I’m up well before the dawn reflecting on what’s just happened and have published my thoughts on here before the media start arriving in the Four Streets. Continue reading “How to do Social Housing: Part Two”