What are we thinking about?


Evolution through necessity and the human spirit. People are reconnecting with each other in non commercial activities. The animals are starting to breath once more, the rivers are cleaning themselves, the sea is regaining strength, asthmatics underneath the fly zones are breathing easier, the sky is bluer, the fish are restocking. Most animals are wandering freer, apart from us… What lessons need to be learned here and how quick do we need to learn them? Is that not the questions we need to be thinking about now, at least part of the time?.

At the local level
The city fathers are the ones who make the decisions for us, these days we call them the city council. And the incompetence demonstrated in the last 50 years can not be allowed to continue. Previous decisions created the Glasgow effect widening the poverty gap to creating disengagement for ordinary people whilst throwing cash and support to business. The decisions made today for the planned recovery of this crisis will affect our children grandchildren and great grandchildren for decades to come. Therefore it is an imperative and matter of survival that ordinary people are included and “prioritised” in these decisions over “business”.
The other extremely important imperative is getting ourselves involved and keeping control of the narrative of this dialogue.

The value and life of a park – Public discussion on our parks

Kelvingrove barriers

Every so often we are, if you even know about it, consulted by Glasgow City Council, about what we want in our public parks. At the last consultation I don’t remember the public agreeing that we should have much more in the way of lock-out festivals and expensive, ticketed, gigs, taking up great swathes of our park space over the summer period when we need the park most. The problem with these consultations is is that they just seem like exercises in get consensus to allow more commercialisation of the park.

The problem is as we see it is. The public do not just need consulted in these matters, we need to be involved in the discussion that leads to decisions. And to be involved in the discussion we need also to be aware of all of the facts relating to not only to the decisions made in our behalf, but also the longer term impact that these decisions will have on our green space.

The value of parks needs to be equated by more than the shallow monetary value put on them and the superficial business orientated consultations which add up to the same thing. The city administration and public need to start taking these thing seriously and understand the real value that is attached to our city parks.

When somebody tells you “Nobody uses it” “The parks have to pay for themselves”  along with the sometimes pathetic excuses used to allow building on green space by developers and city administrators alike. We need to, (particularly our young who have most to lose,) be able to give them a cost benefit analysis on our green space and on how parks more than pay for themselves by:

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Detoxing the environment

The production of oxygen

The removal of carbon dioxide and other toxins

Creates water drainage and anti-flooding

Wild life habitats.

Solar energy

Benefits for mental health.

The vistas and sense of space as a release from manic traffic.

A space to exist as a family unit. Reduces friction, stress and family break-ups.

Escape from city stress that leads to crime and violence.   

Building block for a sense of community

Autonomous space equality for everybody.

No commerce.

Safe for bikes, safe for football, amateur sports, productions, events, physical space 

Freedom of speech Speakers Corner. Tradition of protest, Rally’s

Last bastion of space for the poorest in our communities.

The countryside in the city

An excellent recipe for childhood education, physics and science in nature

Stagnant ponds could be rejuvenated by solar power fountains. And introducing the person on the street to science…

The park belongs to no one and to everyone.

Look at just one element of our parks, trees.

Evergreen trees can be used to reduce wind speed (and usefully, loss of heat from your home in the winter by as much as 10 to 50 percent.)

Trees absorb and block noise and reduce glare. A well placed tree can reduce noise by as much as 40 percent.

Fallen tree leaves can reduce soil temperature and soil moisture loss. Decaying leaves promote soil microorganism and provide nutrients for tree growth.

Trees help settle out and trap dust, pollen and smoke from the air. The dust level in the air can be as much as 75 percent lower on the sheltered side of the tree compared to the windward side.

Trees create an ecosystem to provide habitat and food for birds and other animals.

Trees absorb carbon dioxide and potentially harmful gasses, such as sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, from the air and release oxygen.

One large tree can supply a day’s supply of oxygen for four people.

A healthy tree can store 13 pounds of carbon each year – for an acre of trees that equals to 2.6 tons of carbon dioxide.

Each gallon of gasoline burned produces almost 20 pounds of carbon dioxide.

For every 10,000 miles you drive, it takes 7 trees to remove the amount of carbon dioxide produce if your car gets 40 miles per gallon (mpg); it will take 10 trees at 30 mpg; 15 trees at 20 mpg; 20 trees at 15 mpg; and 25 trees at 12 mpg)

Trees help reduce surface water run-off from storms, thus decreasing soil erosion and the accumulation of sediments in streams. They increase ground water recharge and reduce the number of potentially harmful chemicals transported to our streams.

An acre of trees absorb enough carbon dioxide in a year to equal the amount produced when you drive a car 26,000 miles.

Readers of City Strolls will have been listening to this over the last ten years. “The parks are in the process of being privatised” The problem is what citizens are unaware of the business developments that have been been happening over that time, untill they see the barriers going up around their park.

Recently Edinburgh city council deemed the hoardings closing off the view of Princess street gardens for a concert as being inappropriate. The hoardings in question were removed within an hour of the councils edict.

Maybe the start of resistance to the kind of  pay per view being enforced on the access of public spaces. Something we have seen increasingly across Glasgow parks and common spaces. With little or no objections that we are hearing about, from the administrators of our commons, parks and particularly in the lack of stewardship of our Common Good Fund.

So the thinking here is that most park users have a general idea of what the park is there for. Because what people use the park for hasn’t changed much over the last hundred years? Why do we need to be convinced “that the parks need to be fixed before they are broken” (Quote from a council parks survey) “The parks need to pay for themselves, and we are helping in this” (From events organiser with vested interests.)

Why are we constantly asked in consultations. “What do we need in our parks?” Most would answer “Access to our culture and heritage, toilets and a few parkies” But the questions are really designed by each preceding city administration to fulfil their own need through our parks. i.e. the quickest way to emptying our wallets to generate commercial profits.

So what we want to look at here is an event that looks at the cause and effect of the commercial developments being rolled out in our parks. How can we better understand how to challenge the inappropriate use of our parks

And Strategies for better stewardship of parks and green spaces to reverse the commercial decline. How to work towards a long term vision for our green space that serves users and can supersede decisions on park use made by short term administrations who may not have the public’s and park users best interests at heart.

This article relates to an event to be held in Kinning Park Complex at “Parks for people” How to become involved in the discussion and understanding the importance of green space in our lives, economically, physiologically, health wise, environmentally, politically, historically and creatively.

Join us for a debate  at Kinning Park Complex on what our parks are for. (dates will be poster soon)

Times and Speakers to be confirmed. If you want to help out contact or join list.

 

Radical Imagination/Common Good Awareness Project/Tardis

The case of North Kelvin Meadows and The Glasgow Effect

meadows1

North Kelvin Meadows

Think about it. Is there another campaign at present in the city that has used its assets, common sense, media, resources and everything else to the best of their ability? Can you think of another campaign that has as good a prospect of winning, if given the right support? A project that has helped to delineate the council bosses, position clearly, of profit over people? This campaign if successful would set an example for others to follow in the de-privatisation of public land. The campaign is well run and seems to do all the right things in many ways. It would be a very important model and win if successful and as well to the encouragement of other incipient campaigns and growing spaces in the community. But remember, It could also have the complete opposite effect if it fails. It would set greening spaces back years. The city council bosses also know this, (and the Scottish government) as well as having the added incentive for development opportunities and of stocking the council coffers with the moneys involved, by the selling of this commons and many others like it, that will inevitably come into the future sights of developers .[expand title=”trigger more text”]

The Meadows, would be just the kind of win to boost campaigns of this nature all over the city. Do people in growing spaces realise how important this campaign is to the sustainability of growing and green space? I hope they do and start to come up with some ideas in supporting the campaign, learning from it and using the inspired imagination in building solidarity for the next round in defending this space and others. There is a need to keep up momentum and it should not be left only to the people directly involved at the meadows. (Or other places.) The city council, or/and the Government, will decide the fate of this space. But it will need a collective “City Peoples Council” to make sure they make the right decision and set a precedent for future community development.

Whats this to do with “The Glasgow Effect”?

Quoting from the article links below: ‘A recent report finds that radical attempts to solve Glasgow’s housing problems in the 1960s and 1970s left the city vulnerable when government policy steered investment away from housing and towards retail and other industries in subsequent decades. Walsh added: “The Scottish Office embarked on a series of policies that effectively wrote off the city – they designated it a ‘declining city’ and their plans focused on economic growth elsewhere.”
“This was a policy that went on for decades despite an awareness that this was having a massively negative impact in socio-economic terms and therefore on health.”’

Basically they are saying in the early 80s, the city stopped investing in its people and social housing and shifted its interests to business investment. Which is a big part of the reason for the so called “Glasgow Effect”.  Why the poverty levels in Glasgow, were 30% higher than other cities, such as Manchester, Birmingham, Liverpool, that deindustrialise at the same time as Glasgow.  You can read about this below. But it also needs to be remembered, importantly. At the same time (early 80s), as the government were de-investing in people, a group of folk in Reidvale, Dennistoun, were investing in themselves. (As the corporation were ripping down tenements and communities with them and packing families of to the schemes and tower blocks, as the corporation, geographically blighted the city space for the use of motorways and commerce.) Many of the people in Reidvale Dennison, during these clearances, said No! We want to stay in our community. Fix our houses we are not moving! And they did stay in their houses, in their community. The rest is history as the people of Reidvale, created a model for Community Based Housing Associations, that is used, not only in Glasgow, but all over Britain.

We have now suffered 30-40 years of de-investment in people. Now the car loving motorway builders are proclaiming “People make Glasgow”  If people make Glasgow, it is going to need more than a branding exercise, that has more to do with selling produce than investing in people. If people make Glasgow, it will be about making council bosses do what they are told and forcing them to invest in our kids, our vulnerable and those trapped in poverty. We need basically to make them eat their own words.

Ideas for looking forward

There is no reason “The Glasgow Effect” should not be made into something wonderful, something unique and meaningful to the people of Glasgow. Turned on its head from something that is done to the city’s people, to something that they do for themselves.

The council did not listen to the people in the community of Reidvale at that time , they were made to listen. And in the case of Kelvin meadows and other such like projects, (the city administration should really be boasting about, the achievements of its citizens, rather than taking the credit), they didn’t listen to any of them either. They were made to listen, Govanhill baths, Kelvingrove bandstand,  Kinningpark Complex, to name a few. As Glaswegian’s, we may have a few attitude problems and don’t think positively enough, as Carol Craig, et al, will remind us. But most, commonly ignore, or underestimate the states role in all of this. The systematic draining of money, resources and assets that took place during the 80s (and continues to this day) that had and is still having a massive effect on the poorest in our city. This was no news to the many who, experienced, have reported and written about it throughout. They were also ignored, and still are.

People “do” make Glasgow. If only more of them realised this simple fact.

The Meadows should become a collective meeting grounds as part of helping to create a “Dear Green Place” benchmark – for those with any interest in freeing the soil of this city in perpetuity for our kids and future generations – until the developers are completely cast off this bit of public land. Winning could be easier than we think and the effect could spread to awaken the public conscience to more ideas for looking forward. And perish the thought, there is a lot of fun to be had to.

It is not rocket science, when we look around us, to understand where the money is being spent, invested and where it is not. Do we really need reports that take years to write to tell us this? It is right in front of our eyes. Like everything else, we have just gotten used to it. So much of our attention is being diverted by, the positive thinking industry, or the  “But this is the real world” theory. So much energy put into ideas, concepts, explanations, excuses of why things are happening to us. We are all just getting used to all of it, learned to live with it and to shield ourselves from dealing with it. There was an old 60s saying that is fitting when the glut of rhetoric outweighed the practicalities. “Move you arse and your brain will follow.” Not poetic, but It has never been more apt advice, than it is at present. People make Glasgow, sure, but which people, you? Me? What are the ideas for doing it together? Because it’s not going to happen otherwise.

https://www.commonspace.scot/articles/8404/scotland-office-policies-blamed-glasgow-effect-forthcoming-report
http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/14493634.Revealed___Glasgow_effect__mortality_rate_blamed_on_Westminster_social_engineering/?ref=ebln

https://northkelvinmeadow.com

The secret History of our Streets
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b04ck993

Half of it is about showing up. Frida Berrigan

 

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Recent videos – Radical Imagination Project

Film crew


Norman Armstrong Free Wheel North
Radical Imagination Project. Discussions with folk who have worked and committed much of their time to community activism. Norman Armstrong
Norman, a tenacious community worker, who “gets things done” but unlike many fly-by-night “social entrepreneurs” is rooted in his community and has the philosophy and principals to match. freewheelnorth.org.uk
(Filmed by Radical imagination film group) radicalimagination.co.uk
View on VIMEO

May Day picnic Glasgow Green 2016
A small may Day event on the Glasgow green at Free Wheel North. Part of an effort to have the Glasgow’s May Day event in the open. More information for next year to follow. spiritofrevolt.info    iwwscotland.wordpress.com
(Filmed by Radical imagination film group) radicalimagination.co.uk
View on VIMEO


John Cooper on the spirit of revolt and the Castlemilk connection
John Cooper, a name synonymous with Castlemilk and community struggle over the last 40 years or so. The evening took us through the adventures and campaigns of himself and his Castlemilk comrades, from the miners strike to the present. A social history. Find more on the “Spirit of Revolt” website at. spiritofrevolt.info Film in two bits Talk and after discussion. facebook.com/castlemilkagainstausterity/
(Filmed by Radical imagination film group) radicalimagination.co.uk
View on VIMEO


John Cooper – After talk discussion (Castlemilk Against Austerity) Castlemilk, experience and its relevance to the youth who take up the mantle today of community organising. facebook.com/castlemilkagainstausterity
(Filmed by Radical imagination film group) radicalimagination.co.uk
View on VIMEO


The Downtrodden Tenant
Bad housing exists not because the housing system is not working but because it is the way it works. Peter Morton has taught me more about technology in the last few months than I knew before. His boundless energy to educate, given the fact he is in a wheelchair and on strong medication through bad health is an inspiration. We are working on a pile of projects around the Radical Imagination and opening the “Open Source” to the people who need it most. This film denotes Peters struggle with Renfrew Council, their lack of duty of care and how the use of his technological skills were used to collect empirical data to back up a case against their failure to uphold their own housing policy. Downtrodden Tenant Blog
(Filmed by Radical imagination film group) radicalimagination.co.uk
View on VIMEO


Self Determination Power Event Common Sense and Freedom 1990
A wee blast from the past. The Self-Determination and Power event was organised by a loose alliance of the Free University of Glasgow, the Edinburgh Review, then under the editorship of James Kelman advocate Peter Kravitz, and Scottish Child magazine, edited by Rosemary Milne. Also involved were Variant, then a glossy magazine containing provocations from Stewart Home, Pete Horobin’s Dundee-based Data Attic and others; West Coast literary magazine, Here and Now magazine, the radical-based Clydeside Press, and the Scotia bar, then a hub for free-thinking dissent down by the river just across from the Gorbals. radicalimagination.co.uk/about/what-happened-in-1990
(Produced by Street Level) streetlevelphotoworks.org
View on VIMEO

Videos can also be viewed on Youtube

Ian McHarg 1920-2001 Scottish landscape architect Design with nature

Ian McHarg died this day in 2001 (NY Times obituary). He was a Scottish landscape architect who made his name in the University of Pennsylvania where he founded the world famous Department of Landscape Architecture and Regional Planning in1955.

He was born in Clydebank in 1920 and (for those with an interest in the history of mountaineering in Scotland), was one of the Craigallian Fire men.

Arguably his most famous legacy is his 1969 book, Design with Nature. One of his pupils and collaborators in the project was the Scottish landscape architect, Mark Turnbull, who is still practising in Scotland today. His book sat on the shelves of my Dad’s study when I was growing up. He was an architect and, as a student, I thought it would make an interesting contribution to the forestry course I was doing at Aberdeen University. However, so dismal was the outlook of the staff there (there were a few honourable exceptions), that the notion of even reading such a book was regarded as too radical. I read it though and recommend it to anyone with an interest in environmental and spatial planning (McHarg invented the sieve mapping technique now standard in GIS – the European Geosciences Union awards a medal in his honour).
Keep reading article Ian McHarg 1920-2001 Scottish landscape architect Design with nature

How to untie the knot

The need for appropriate ownership and access regimes Toby Lloyd Land & Liberty Autumn/Winter 2002/3

Breaking the multinationals’ stranglehold on natural resources is vital if everyone is to benefit, but Toby Lloyd believes what is really needed are appropriate ownership and access regimes. Too often, this debate has been presented as a straight choice between private and shared property.

In 1968 the academic and author Garrett Hardin described ‘the tragedy of the commons’ like this: if everyone has a right to graze cattle on a village common it will inevitably suffer over-grazing, because it is in each individual’s interest to extract as much as possible from it, knowing the effects of overuse will be shared by everyone.

This argument has since been deployed to demonstrate private property’s merits and to justify the privatisation of socially held assets. With diminishing resources left under social ownership, attention has shifted to various ‘unowned’ resources. The atmosphere, oceans and genome are commons – assets in which we all have a notional shared ownership – and therefore, we are told, are susceptible to Hardin’s ‘tragedy’. The only solution, according to the new market fundamentalism, is to enclose the commons, creating private assets and incentives for owners to preserve them. In this way, it is argued, the ‘tragedy’ will be averted.

India’s neem tree offers a striking example of bio-piracy in action where marauding multinational corporations seek to plunder the knowledge of the global South. To market fundamentalists, the knowledge of neem’s uses is a common that should be privatised, allowing most efficient use. The flaw in the argument is that it fails to differentiate between open-access and what are often called common property systems.

Hardin’s hypothetical grazing land was an open-access system: no rules govern by whom or how much it is used. In reality, most pastures are types of shared property, owned by members of a limited group with the right to exclude non-members from using it.

No fences doesn’t mean no owners or no rules.

Complex shared property systems have evolved everywhere, governing the use of water, grazing lands, fish stocks and knowledge. Open access, common, limited shared and private property are different types of property regime – rules that govern rights of access, use, exchange and so on, and their corresponding obligations.

There are many different types of property regime and some are more suitable in certain circumstances. Open-access regimes are best for say public health information. National parks are a recognition of common property in national heritage. Shoes are best owned by individuals. More complex resources may need more sophisticated ownership regimes.

Perhaps in neem’s case common ownership combined with resource rental is best. Or perhaps a true open-access system nobody could privatise would ensure its benefits were spread as widely as possible. Yet efficient and extensive exploitation, whether privately or in common, is not the fundamental criterion. The regime must ensure the re-creation of the resource. For the products of labour, private property rewards creation. For fish in the ocean, or rain forests, that which sustains their re-creation, brings abundance.

We have to recognise common ownership as both real and valid, and resist the efforts of the bio-pirates.

www.caledonia.org.uk/commonweal

Tchai-ovna Tea Room under threat

8TH JULY PRESS RELEASE BY: TCHAI-OVNA HOUSE OF TEA, FRIENDS OF THE KELVIN, RESIDENTS OF KELVIN BRIDGE AREA, BUSINESSES OF KELVIN BRIDGE AREA, CARNIVAL ARTS.

With the support of: local celebrities from: Franz Ferdinand, Belle and Sebastian and Phil Kay, Councilor Niall Walker, MSP Patrick Harvey and MSP Tommy Sheridan

CONFRONTATION BETWEEN A UNIQUE COMMUNITY UNDER THREAT AND BIG CORPORATE DEVELOPERS

For more information please contact Martin Fell tel: 07976932432 /0141 3574524 martin@tchaiovna.com 1.

In light of the unprecedented demonstration that took place on 22nd June George Square against the building of a large luxury block of flats on the Kelvin attended by over 70 demonstrators, including such celebrities as Stuart Murdoch of Belle and Sebastien and Phil Kay and councilors. The confrontation has begun at Tchai-Ovna between members of the community and the large corporate developers who’s planning application was passed. Volunteers are now encamped and starting to blockade the development with the support of the above mentioned celebrities and local councilors and politicians.

2. A large corporation of developers, CPD Ltd. is working to build a block of luxury flats on the ruins of the site 2-12 Gibson St. that in style, green, white and glass completely contrasts with the red-stone buildings of the area on a site where there is a long history of subsidence. The building is proposed as solving the accommodation crisis of the West end, whereas it is rather to provide more unnecessary luxury accommodation, unaffordable for the normal resident of the area.

3. The community is unanimously against it, dozens of residents and local business owners have written to the council to complain. Over 500 people signed a petition opposing the development. A large representative demonstration took place on the day the planning committee were officially meant to consider the matter. Characteristically the council gave the go ahead in favour of the large corporation. There is no right of appeal.

4. Such a development, which would take up to a year, will disrupt a vibrant community which has been developing a unique character in Glasgow over the last decade. Though they were not granted permission to use Otago Lane as access they have already been doing so. The tea garden, which directly neighbours the proposed building site would quickly revert back to the stagnant waste ground from which it was painstakingly transformed. Local businesses would also be seriously affected and some, like Tchai-Ovna may be even forced to close causing the loss of jobs [see ‘Further information’ for more on Tchai-Ovna].

It is a typical case of big business and money making objectives rolling over important, unique small communities and small businesses.

Further Information Tchai-Ovna house of tea has been working for 4 years to establish and beautify the riverside environment in which it is situated. This continuous work that has been carried out under our own initiative and resources, both monetarily and in terms of time and energy, is now under serious threat due to the planned development of luxury flats on the bank of the Kelvin River. Since the last property fell into the river the sites of 8-14 Gibson St and number 16 were used as illegal dumping grounds, essentially left as wasteland. There was a large rat infestation due to the dumping of waste material, like used cooking oil, household waste and old furniture – piles measuring up to 2 metres high in places. One of the first tasks Tchai-Ovna undertook was to remove the debris in order to create a beautiful tea garden that is sensitive to the surrounding environment. The tea house has been also making a lot of effort to help and promote local artists which has attracted attention from the BBC and newspapers, including the Herald, List and Metro. This is under threat if the business is forced to close The period of disuse lead to the growth of a number of mature trees which we looked after and are important as a green corridor as well as providing a natural defense against flooding and thus subsidence. The building would have a devastating effect once it falls into the river, possibly in 50 years time. This is not only a threat to the bio-diversity of the site that has been developing since the last property fell into the river (around 25 years ago) but also overshadow and stifle the small independent businesses on the street, for which Tchai-Ovna has been of great economic benefit. It also destroys a focal point of the community. It is a typical case of the large corporate business sweeping aside grass roots development and the human necessity of cultural diversity. If left in the hands of the many commited people who have invested their energies, under the co-ordination of Tchai-Ovna, the garden would continue to flourish and evolve into a peaceful woodland sanctuary. As a safe place for the community where families could bring their children it would also provide a venue for outside cultural events.