On Huskisson Street in the Morning

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:

‘It’s not raining and you’ve got time.’

Continue reading “On Huskisson Street in the Morning”

What kind of society do you want to grow up in?

Explaining social housing and the economy to young people. Many comments on this now in. See the evolving discussion with young people here.

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.

Photo by Jane MacNeil

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.

 

 

So they sent me five questions young people had submitted, generally around the subject of social housing, and today they’ve published my answers. Continue reading “What kind of society do you want to grow up in?”

Introducing: Coming Home

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.’

Coming Home.
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.

Because until you know you have a decent place to come home to.
Because until you know you have a decent place to come home to.
Somewhere to be comfortable and to rest.
Somewhere to be comfortable and to rest.
Somewhere you can be fully yourself.
Somewhere you can be fully yourself.
And take care of yourself.
And take care of yourself.

Then you’re not really having very much of a life at all. Continue reading “Introducing: Coming Home”

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”

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”

How to do Social Housing: Part One

A true story of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust on site.On Site Part One - 1I 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.

Here goes.

Late last September we finished our first five houses.
Late last September we finished our first five houses.
And our great friends Ann and Lorna came to help us celebrate.
And our great friends Ann and Lorna came to help us celebrate.

That’s Councillor Ann O’Byrne, Deputy Mayor of Liverpool and Lorna Mackie of the Nationwide Foundation, one of our major funders.

That same day we went on site on our next three houses.
That same day we went on site on our next three houses.

Continue reading “How to do Social Housing: Part One”

Waste Not, Want Not?

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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?”

The House

'We live here' Sarah Horton quilt, 1995.
‘We live here’ Sarah Horton quilt, 1995.

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.The House - 4

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”

The kindness of public librarians

A librarian at work.
A librarian at work.

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.on-national-libraries-day22

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.

Enjoyment much helped, as it’s turned out, by the kindness of public librarians. Continue reading “The kindness of public librarians”

In Granby: Getting ready for the Street Market

Cairns Street L8, where the Street Market will be.
Cairns Street L8, where the Street Market will be.

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.

You'll be very welcome.
You’ll be very welcome.
The late summer flowers are out.
The late summer flowers are out.

Continue reading “In Granby: Getting ready for the Street Market”