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:

Continue reading “Avon Stories podcast #13: Community development in Southville and Bedminster with Ben Barker”

1st November Avon view

 

Back at the start of the month I was taking the kind of walk I do a lot of in winter.   I get SAD, and I’ve been freelancing, so I have to make a conscious effort to leave the house sometimes.   One thing I do is order books from the library, so I have a continual reason to be out, dropping off read books, taking out new ones.   They start off as  functional, deliberate walks, rather than explorations, or leisure, but they can lead into more.

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This time I started getting fascinated with the wooden structures that are built into the silt banks along the stretch of river between Bedminster Bridge and the former entrance to the Harbour at Bathurst Basin.   They look so botched together, straining at the pressure of holding up the weight of the banking, and on their last legs.  I wonder when they were built, how long they will last, and what will happen when they fall – and that makes me think about how so much of the New Cut has been so badly maintained, and seems like one or two big storms away from collapsing.   It’s an unnatural river, and should need constant upkeep.  Without it, it won’t last another 50 years, let alone 100.

Where the Avon used to join the Floating Harbour, at Bathurst Basin

My photos were bad – grey November day, just my iphone, and 200iso in my 35mm, but I love them.   I hopped over the fence to look at the mechanics of the outlet that lets the Malago into the Avon, as I’m always intrigued as to what everything is.  It’s this kind of view I like best, and these are the moments the functional walks turn into something more.

Where the Malago joins the Avon

Malago structures, on the Avon

And it’s a continual obsession to take the same photos with multiple cameras, to see how the view changes – here’s the river from an unusual viewpoint, phone & 35mm.

Avon compare & contrast

Avon view - compare and contrast

The composition is better on the mobile, the colours better on film – but neither are great.   I wish I’d had my medium format or DSLR with me.   But I love them for the memory, and because I can’t remember seeing this view before.  I want to see what it looks like in winter, and spring, and summer.  Golden hour and frosty morning light, and everything between!