Avon Stories Podcast #23: Soundwalking with Dan Pope

There are so many ways to explore a place, and one of them is through the sounds you find there.  Dan Pope is an acoustic consultant and musician, who also makes sound-art and runs sound walks, and for this episode, we went walking down the St Philip’s Greenway and the closed Avon path, on a soundwalk.

Between stopping to find out what we could hear, Dan told me about various kinds of soundwalks, and how we can come at them from art, science, politics, ethnography, history, psychogeography, planning, and so many more viewpoints.

We also talked about his work, and what can be done to add positive (and negative!) soundscapes to places.

Dan has a fantastic list of sound resources, for people who want to explore sounds in their area:

  • The Hush City app is a great resource to add sounds you encounter to a global community – you can explore their website and see what they do
  • Cities and Memory is a global sound project, collecting sounds and having sound-artists remix them into sound-art pieces.  For example, their Politics of Protest global sound map.
  • The World Listening Project runs World Listening Day every year, with tons of events, including soundwalks – this year it’s on 18th July
  • The Institute of Acoustics has regional branches across the UK, which run events – find your local branch here.
  • The Bristol Walking Festival doesn’t have specific soundwalks this year, but there are tons of interesting walks to places that you can listen to
  • Apps like Titanium Recorder and the Soundcloud app are great for recording interesting sounds you hear out and about – look them up wherever you get your apps

We also briefly talked about some people working in sounds:

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Avon Stories podcast 11: How Bristol nearly lost the Harbour, and other Planning stories

One of the main features of Bristol is the Floating Harbour that meanders through the city, lined with boats, from tatty barges to three-masted sailing boats, right up to floating nightclubs and restaurants.  But did you know that in the late 1960s there was a plan to close the Harbour to navigation, and build giant roads over it? And that a City Docks Act was passed in Parliament to make it possible, and it was only the global recession of the 1970s that prevented it?

Richard Holden worked in the Planning Department at Bristol City Council for 36 years, and he told me all about that, what would have happened if the road plan had happened, and more of the stories about the Harbour, including how the M Shed cranes were saved.

We also talked about the good, the bad and the ugly in Planning, how some of the developments came about, and how the best Planning work is essentially invisible.  He also told me about the current threats to the Harbour – nothing as extreme as a giant road, but developments that really do risk destroying some of the wonderful things that are emblematic of the city.  Scroll down for what everything can do to try to prevent these, and other, threats.

Richard sent me some photos of what parts of the Harbour looked like before redevelopment, and I’ve put them on this map, under the red icons, along with pictures I took about places we talked about, which you can also see in this flickr album.

Of course, you can find all kinds of other photos of the Harbour in the past on the Know Your Place website, and there’s more about that in my first Avon Stories podcast.

If you want to help shape the future of Bristol’s infrastructure and planning, there are things you can do:

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