Avon Stories podcast #13: Community development in Southville and Bedminster with Ben Barker

When we talk about community development in Bristol, the neighbourhoods of Southville and Bedminster aren’t the first that come to mind, because they’re generally known for gentrification.

But behind the soaring house prices, there are still really diverse communities, and some pockets of deprivation – and some really interesting community development approaches.

Ben Barker has been at the heart of this work for over 25 years, involved in everything from projects that look tiny and have no budget, right through to things like the Business Improvement District that has helped the local high streets remain vibrant.

I always enjoy talking to Ben, so I wanted to find out more about his approach, especially to areas like social isolation, and projects impacting on elderly and disabled people, including making the area more accessible.

When we talked, we were referring to the Greater Bedminster Partnership, which has since been re-named Action Greater Bedminster!

Find out more about them on the Action Greater Bedminster! website. They’re still in the process of migrating to their new site, so some of the things we talked about aren’t up on the new one yet, but check back soon.  You can also sign up to their newsletter there to find out the latest happenings in the community.

Links to specific projects and initiatives we talked about below:

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Exploring the river banks

I’m always trying to find new views of places I walk all the time, to try to find new photos, and it surprises me afterwards – why did I never do that before?

Supports

Last week there was a Spring tide, and the grass on all the silt banks was washed flat, so it was the perfect chance to go down onto the bank at the end of the Chocolate Path.  I haven’t done this before, because the silt has holes and gaps that make it treacherous to walk on, and the grass hides that.

arches

It’s a strange feeling, like it’s forbidden, or something.  You can see people on the path taking a double look, but that’s probably about the careful footsteps, and clambering over the rivulets.  The big surprise was how much the sides of the path are eroding, and look bodged together.  I wanted to walk as far as the Outflow, but the bank narrows, with the trenches getting deeper, so we turned back.

It’s such a minor “new place”, but I loved it.  Definitely want to do that again.  More grey-ish photos below the jump…

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Avon Stories #9: Protecting our rivers with the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust

My Avon Stories project is based around the river and the waters in Bristol, and while I’ve been looking at how the river impacted on the history of Bristol, and how people use and are inspired by the river, I’m also very interested in the water itself – and in this podcast, I set out to find out more

I talked to Claire Hutchinson, a Project Officer with the Bristol Avon Rivers Trust (BART), a community-based charity that works to protect and improve the rivers and streams.  Claire told me about how healthy the water is, the challenges and issues facing the rivers, including the different forms of pollution, and what BART, and we, can do to protect our environment.

The BART catchment area covers the Avon and all the tributaries that feed into it:

You can find out more about BART’s work on their website, including their projects, and the ones we talked about:

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