Who wouldn’t want to walk along Huskisson Street in the morning?
There’s always somewhere to get to isn’t there? Always something filling up your mind with the things to do when you arrive at wherever? What hardly ever happens in the middle of all this getting on is the quiet voice. You may know it? The wise and caring voice inside your head that says:
‘You know that ‘present moment’ consciousness thing where life happens? Well you might want to take a look at this one, right here and right now?’
Well this morning I heard the voice. While I was sitting on the 86 bus going into town. What it said was this:
For a long time I’ve thought and no doubt even said that if you really know your stuff, whatever that ‘stuff’ might be, you should be able to explain it clearly to anyone. Just this year, for example, I’ve been driven to so much distraction by some verbose inhabitants of the ‘social investment sector’ (their description of themselves) that I’ve had to publicly berate them for telling a room of people who actually do things that we need to ‘learn their language’ if we want them to consider investing in us.
I’m saying this because this very week some of my own ‘stuff’ has been put to the test when The Economist asked me if I’d have a go at answering some questions. They run something called The Burnet News Club that’s specifically about involving both primary and secondary school children in discussions about the economy.
Stories of what didn’t work can be as instructive in the long run as things that did. So I’m leaving this here, so others might find it one day…
A few times on here lately I’ve alluded to a new idea I’ve been working on, saying I’d be ‘telling you about it soon.’ Well soon is now, and I’d like to introduce ‘Coming Home.’
As you’ll know if you’ve been around this blog any amount of time, one of the core beliefs that has driven the whole of my life has been that having a decent home is a basic human right. And that any society that is failing to ensure that decent homes are being provided is a failing society. We are a failing society by that measure. So I’m going to do everything I can through ‘Coming Home’ to put that right.
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.Let’s start with perfectly done. The latest 3 of our Community Land Trust Houses to be finished in Granby 4 Streets.
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.
A true story of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust on site.I want to tell you a story about social housing. A very detailed story (in two parts) about exactly how to do it. Or at least, exactly how we’re doing it in Granby 4 Streets.
I want to tell you this story now because recently some people who I thought knew better are saying social housing can’t be done any more. Or that anyway if you do decide to do it you’re doing something called ‘Submarket Housing.’ As in subhuman, subspecies, substandard, subnormal, substitute, subterranean? You can probably only barely imagine how annoyed this makes me feel, having been working in and around social housing now since 1972.
But this won’t be a rant, more like a demonstration of a community of people, including me, doing social housing here in Liverpool over the last few months. And it’s a detailed demonstration because over this time I’ve been the Granby community’s representative on site as we’ve worked on our latest batch of renovations. Throughout this time I’ve taken hundreds of site photographs, mainly to help us all run the job. But I think they’re interesting and even beautiful in their way. Because they show what doing social housing looks like.
That’s Councillor Ann O’Byrne, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and Lorna Mackie of the Nationwide Foundation, one of our major funders.
I’m not sure if being away from home helps me think more clearly but certainly being in Leeds for a few days this past week has been full of education for me. Education of the in your face kind that I wrote about at the Real Junk Food Project of course. But also gentler learning through visiting other places doing good things as part of my work, plus other learning and thinking whilst there from long conversations about life and the living of it in a time of austerity with friends new and not so new.
Back in Liverpool now all this education has led to one of my Sunday afternoon musing rambles to see if I can work out what it all amounts to, for me anyway. Here goes.
Learning from austerity the last time around
The first thing I should clarify immediately is, of course, that I don’t for a moment believe that this really is austerity that’s being visited upon us in these years. It’s a cold blooded political attack and I could fill the rest of this post with the names of the guilty. But enough said. The guilty are calling it ‘austerity’ and I’m going to think through how we might move from widespread paralysis to recovery by thinking about the last time there was real austerity. Continue reading “Waste Not, Want Not?”
Our house is being decorated at the moment and so there’s scaffolding up. Providing an unexpectedly good opportunity for an objective look at and reflect on the place I’ve lived in for longer than any other.
As part of this reflecting I’m spending a good amount of time out on the scaffolding. Idly talking with our friend Jayne while she paints the house for some of the time. But also doing bits of work that would be a lot more difficult without the scaffolding here. Continue reading “The House”
I’ve often written about public libraries but not for some time. I have been spending a lot of time in them though lately, as I’ve been writing a book. It’s a book on the 50 year history of Liverpool Housing Trust, one of the ‘Cathy Come Home’ era housing associations and a place where I first volunteered and then worked in myself for 20 years from 1975. No doubt when the book comes out, which will be soon, little hints of what’s in it or long bits of what turned out to be too long to go into it will appear on here.
I’m not writing it on my own mind. My friend and ‘proper’ writer and publisher, Fiona Shaw of Wordscapes is doing much more of the writing than me and also editing the whole thing. But we divided up the bits we’d do and mostly write on our own, getting together occasionally to see where we’re up to.
And I’ve done most of my own writing of it in public libraries. In our grand and lovely Central Library when I wanted to lift my spirits and get going on what felt like a big project. Then most often in my local library at Allerton Road as I’ve settled into the work and enjoyed every minute of it.
This Saturday 6th September, from 10 ’til 3 it’s the Granby 4 Streets Market. The culmination of this summer’s 4 Streets Markets and a guaranteed celebration of a very significant year in the history of the 4 Streets. So today I went for a walk around the streets with Eleanor Lee of the Granby 4 Street Community Land Trust, so we could show you what’s happening, and to encourage you to come and have a look for yourself on Saturday.