Forever summer on google street view

Google Street View went live today and is tremendous fun. Perhaps the most fun is to be had by zooming in on people in the street and to see the moments that will now be with us until Google decide the time has come to send the camera car out again.

Jon Bounds is asking if there is any ‘odd stuff’ going on but I’m more enamoured by the whole summery feel of the photos and how even in the streets close to my place there are some lovely fleeting moments that will be with us every time someone wants to take a look at Bournville.

Below is a greeting between a couple and a woman that gradually builds to a hug as the google car passses.

And here’s shirtless proof that it really was a hot summer day:

Links for March 14th through March 16th

Some links for you:

The best park in Birmingham – maybe

It occurs to me that I rarely write about local stuff. Which is a shame really as I live in a fairly pleasant part of Brum – not many people get to live within sniffing distance of a chocolate factory. But as nice as Bournville is, the best park in the area is Cotteridge Park. It has something that Bournville’s other open spaces lack – community.

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 park is next to the cross-city rail line between Bournville and Kings Norton and has a good mix of open land and wooded areas, as well as the orchard of course. It’s on a decent slope which, for a runner, makes it good for short hill sprints along the paths but there is a flat area which I think may have been a bowls green at one point but which is now ideal for impromptu five-a-side. The play area is great for most ages and the skate park attracts a good selection of motley teens – all of them unnervingly polite when faced with a six year old trying to do wheelies on her scooter.

It’s a great park – am chuffed to live in walking distance of it.

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Pic: Pete Asthon

Links for March 13th

Some links for you:

  • Skillset Blog » Blog Archive » CONCEPT – CONSTRUCT – CONNECT: a different way to look at the creative media industry – "Traditionally the creative media industry is split into different categories – Film, TV, Radio, Photo Imaging, Publishing, Computer Games, Advertising, etc. The boundaries and divisions of these seemingly stand-alone sectors are based output; the final format or product. They have historically had their own supply chains, their own workforce, and their own audiences. The merging of these sectors is often called “convergence”. But the true impact of the digital technology is much deeper and more profound than the meshing of content or platforms. The increasing ubiquity and shrinking cost of this technology is leading to a rapid merging of the processes, products and profits of these sectors."
  • Screen West Midlands and Film Birmingham help to secure major new BBC Drama to the region. – Survivors will now be filmed out of Birmingham. Top result! That's like a proper high-value drama thing coming to the region. As we lost Dalziel and Pascoe (now cancelled) this means the capacity won't be lost to the region. I wonder if that's it though – is there capacity in the region for more drama?

Links for March 10th through March 11th

Some links for you:


Landshare is an exciting new project with some 4iP funding behind it. Or at least I think it has 4iP funding. It certainly is 4iP in feel as explained by Adam Gee on the 4ip website.

But anyway – I think it’s a cracking idea. It connects people who want to grow stuff with people who have land to grow it on. You can also be a ‘landspotter’ – someone who knows where there is unproductive land laying fallow that could be utilised for growing food. That’s a bit like the thinking around Feastside – an idea I’d love to see kick off again (and would try to actually get to the meetings this time). Or you can be a ‘facilitator’ – someone who just wants to muck in.

I think it’s more aimed at bigger land owners rather than someone like me, an allotment holder with a plot just a bit too big for family feeding needs. I’ve registered anyway, along with 200 other ‘landowners’ from the West Midlands, so when the site launches in spring we’ll see what happens.

Actually, we could just circumvent all that and you’re more than welcome to a patch of my allotment right now. There’s a slight catch in that the back half of it is almost completely covered in brambles. But if you fancy helping me clear it then you’re welcome to a bit of it to grow some spuds or whatever. We’ll call it Daveshare.

No really, help me clear it and I’ll introduce you to the wonder of grow-your-own. It’s in Bournville, on the number 11 route. 

Really overgrown bit at the back of this photo. It’s much worse than the pic suggests but not insurmountable. I’ve cleared about a quarter of it already.

Links for March 8th through March 9th

Some links for you:

This year’s marathon

This year I’m running the Edinburgh Marathon on May 31st as I didn’t get into London. I’ve been training for a good few weeks now but it’s been a little on and off as I hadn’t done that essential thing in my training regime – start a spreadsheet. It’s only the spreadsheet that usually guilts me into keeping the mileage up. So with 12 weeks to go and at the end of my first fairly full-on week I’ve started one.

This morning I had a lovely run all the way from Bournville up to spaghetti junction and back again on the Rea Valley route and then the canals. At 16 miles it’s my longest run to date – more to come though.

I just need to also write down that if I don’t do under 3 hours (best so far 3 hrs 1 min in London 2008) at Edinburgh I will have to do a second marathon later in the year (probably Dublin) in order to have a second bash at the time. Sub 3 hours is one of my 2009 goals, as is being less of an idiot. At least one of these is achievable.

Pic by Gary Henderson

Links for March 5th through March 7th

Some links for you:

  • £5k Don’t Come for Free :: interactivecultures – Discussion about the value of Business Link support for the Creative Industries in the West Midlands
  • Grad Central officially launched today – “The number of graduates working in the private sector across the West Midlands is set to increase with the launch of a new online service funded by regional development agency Advantage West Midlands. The ‘Grad Central’ service aims to place thousands more graduates into jobs in the region’s private companies over the next four years.” I was going to link to the press release on the AWM website (where I spotted this) but of course they had all the details except a link to Grad Central itself.
  • Innovation and the recession: innovation workshop day 19th March 2009 « Observations – “As part of the State of the Region 2009 project, the Observatory has commisisoned leading academics to outline their views on the key challenges that face the West Midlands in terms of innovation. The results of their work will be presented at this workshop and delegates will have the opportunity to contribute to the discussions and inform future research.”
  • Sunnybank Allotments – At the heart of Wylde Green – After a brief exchange in the comments on my blog John Kirk starts a ning for his local allotment patch – good on him.

Created in Birmingham – time to move on

Is it just me or is Created in Birmingham in danger of slipping into nothing more than one of a series of moderately useful listings websites for Birmingham. That is of course maybe all it’s meant to be but didn’t it used to be so much more? Didn’t it used to have more of an edge?

Didn’t it once hold to account those charged with funding the arts and challenge those who seemed to be ripping off artists? There’s a bit of back-slapping creeping into the comments that makes Brum seem a bit too cosy; as if we have an arts scene that’s not really worth getting worked up about.

I reckon a period of guest editing might spring it back into life. Give it to Pogus Caesar for a week and see what he says about Brum’s cultural scene. Rhonda Wilson would really kick some life into it as would Mohammed Ali. Whichever way, some thought into its editorial stance is certainly needed.

There’s an existing mini-discussion about my views on CIB needing to take more of a position over at Pete Ashton’s blog:

“[CIB should be] an agitator for, rather than simply advocator of, the arts. As it looks around at what’s happening in Brum perhaps it should be brave enough to point out what’s lacking, or at least be up for critiquing that which doesn’t make the grade. We’re keen for this sector to have a voice but until that voice is prepared to step outside the comfort zone it all feels a bit well, safe.”

In posting up my thoughts here I’m really saying that that time has come. Time to move on CIB – let’s start getting edgy.