Of the people, by the people: The Community Land Trusts

A day containing both of Liverpool’s Community Land Trust’s is always a good day for me. A day of actually seeing the people of a place take a formal and active role in designing and creating the future of their place. This was such a day for me.

First to Granby in Liverpool 8.

First to Granby in Liverpool 8.

And later to Homebaked in Anfield.

And later to Homebaked in Anfield.

First to Granby then, where I call for my friend Eleanor Lee. Eleanor’s on the Board of Granby 4 Streets Community Land Trust  and today the builders have invited us to have a nose around what they’ve been building opposite to the CLT houses. We’d stood admiring these nearly finished ones a few evenings ago after all the builders had left the street.

Now we're going inside.

Now we’re going inside.

So we head over to the side of Cairns Street being renovated by Liverpool Mutual Homes.

So we head over to the side of Cairns Street being renovated by Liverpool Mutual Homes.

And a transformational job has been done.

And a transformational job has been done.

Remember these are empty homes that were scheduled for clearance long, long ago.

Remember these are empty homes that were scheduled for clearance long, long ago.

We're both impressed.

We’re both impressed.

In the kitchen of one of the houses Eleanor meets a friend from Granby.

This is Keith Simon, working here for HMS, as is his brother Barry.

This is Keith Simon, working here for HMS, as is his brother Barry.

Keith and Barry grew up here in Cairns Street. At no. 19, now a Community Land Trust house.

They talk building standards, housing need and long ago street parties from the 1970s.

They talk building standards, housing need and long ago street parties from the 1970s.

More than good to know that the people of the place are, in all sorts of ways, working together on its revival. Of the people, by the people.

Well done HMS, well done Liverpool Mutual Homes.

Well done HMS, well done Liverpool Mutual Homes.

The whole street is busy today.

The whole street is busy today.

Skips and vans and builders all over the place.

Skips and vans and builders all over the place.

A replacement bay being checked at a Community Land Trust house.

A replacement bay being checked at a Community Land Trust house.

And the plants?

And the plants?

Yes, we’ll need to be moving these on this side now. On the other side not only did the HMS builders help move the plants there to safe places, they’ve also promised to build all the plants new homes, new plant boxes, ready for their return when the works are done. Thank you so much for that.

Also, as you can see from the above photo, United Utilities are here today. Bringing in the water for houses that long had no plumbing.

A great day for Cairns Street.

A great day for Cairns Street.

And no apologies from me.

And no apologies from me.

No apologies for what? Well for showing you endless photographs of these streets and houses being worked on. It took so many people round here so long to get this to happen. With their guerrilla gardening and their street markets and their painting curtains on the tinned up empty houses opposite them and their sheer determination. So to see all this happening now is a miracle. And I never get tired of looking at miracles.

Here’s another one.

Round in Beaconsfield Street, Plus Dane's laborious and meticulous work continues.

Round in Beaconsfield Street, Plus Dane’s laborious and meticulous work continues.

Brick by brick, piece by piece.

Brick by brick, piece by piece.

But before too long this Princes Avenue end of the street will look like the Kingsley Road end down there.

But before too long this Princes Avenue end of the street will look like the Kingsley Road end down there.

Then later on? To Liverpool’s other Community Land Trust, to Homebaked.

In Anfield as the evening arrives.

In Anfield as the evening arrives.

Homebaked as you’ll well know by now is the community bakery that has done so much to hold the spirit of Anfield together during these last few years of doubt and demolition. But you might not have known it’s also a CLT. Not like Granby where we’re renovating existing houses though. Here the row of houses next to Homebaked are going to be demolished by the City Council, so a few weeks ago we all started work on designing what will replace them. The community of people who live and work here, together with a wider community who love the place.

This is our second architectural gathering.

This is our second architectural gathering.

And I’m not going to write very much about it and the process that’s underway. Because as you can see Cally, on the left there, is writing about it all on Homebaked’s own blog. Which I’ll link to as soon as she’s published.

Meanwhile, a few photos to give you a flavour of it all. Brick by brick – of the people, by the people, community led design.

Britt from Homebaked gets us going.

Britt from Homebaked gets us going.

The football ground, as ever, looking in over our shoulders.

The football ground, as ever, looking in over our shoulders.

And here's Marianne Heaslip, Architect.

And here’s Marianne Heaslip, Architect.

Marianne’s been on this blog before of course. Here at Homebaked where she’s advising on finding and briefing an architect for the work, but also when she was part of the team of us who worked on the wonderful Places and Buildings by Design events I’ve written about. They were about community led design and so is this.Of the people, by the people - 25 Of the people, by the people - 26 Of the people, by the people - 27 Of the people, by the people - 28Cally will be telling you more, and I’ll be back too. Of course.Of the people, by the people - 29

There is always a warm welcome here.

There is always a warm welcome here.

And of course there are always pies.

And of course there are always pies.

Top marks on the newcomer, the mushroom stroganoff by the way!

So a perfect day draws to its close.

So a perfect day draws to its close.

Thank you both, you CLTs, it’s an honour to be involved.

As well as the post about this event Cally from Homebaked has also written this beautiful post ‘How did I get here?’ about growing up next to the football ground and how she got to Homebaked:

“I never dreamt that, around the age of 12 or 13, things would start to change. The friends I knew started to move away, the general vibe of our street changed, as, one by one, houses started being boarded up. A few houses would still have people in, but they weren’t there for long – not enough time to get to know neighbours or new families, no longer a sense of community spirit. I didn’t realise it then, but it was the beginning of a very long journey which ultimately resulted in our street, and several neighbouring ones, being knocked down.”

So do go and have a read of it, to appreciate more fully what these communities are overcoming.

Are we all living in ‘Borgen’ now?

The quandry of who on earth to vote for? And will we end up with a feuding coalition anyway?borgen_588249m1

Yesterday evening a brave Conservative walked along our terraced street in Liverpool delivering election leaflets. As soon as I noticed it I went and looked up and down the street to try and see what such a being looked like, but no, they were gone.

Borgen - 1

‘Hardworking people?’

Back inside the house soon rang with laughter as I read through the joke in every line leaflet. This chancer, James Pearson is his name, will be ‘safeguarding our NHS, creating new  jobs for hardworking people (yes ‘hardworking’ is now a conjoined political word) and protecting us from the coalition of chaos.’ Eh, I thought the Conservatives had spent the last 5 years running that?

Oh well, none of it matters because James has absolutely no chance of winning the seat here. But thanks for delivering your leaflet anyway. It’s your democratic right and it made me smile, not to say laugh, for a few minutes.

Which is more than the rest of this General Election campaign is doing. Continue reading

Hard work and miracles: The Severn Project

The Severn Project, Bristol.

The Severn Project, Bristol.

If society as we know it ever starts to break down, and some would say it already has, then the work of urban farms like the Severn Project and inventive humans like Steve Glover will become even more essential to our wellbeing and survival than they already are. This week in Bristol I was privileged to be part of a group of us who went to talk with Steve and see him and his team at work. ‘Inspirational’ isn’t a strong enough word for what we found.

Steve Glover.

Steve Glover.

The Severn Project is a community interest company, a social enterprise. As in a real enterprise but one with a social purpose instead of shareholders:

“We produce high quality salad leaves and herbs at our urban farms in Bristol. But we do more than just grow food. We strongly believe that all business should have a positive social impact. This is why we support people who face significant barriers to the workplace to help run the project.”

The ‘significant barriers’ mostly involve the fact that the people who work here are working as hard as is humanly possible to overcome their dependence on, well, substances. Continue reading

L8 Unseen

Joe Farrag from Granby.

Joe Farrag from Granby by Othello De Souza Hartley.

If I were to count up all of the photographs on this blog, and I’m not about to, I suspect that not far short of half of them would be of Liverpool 8. The last week alone has seen three posts about the work we’re all doing in Granby, and I’m forever writing about the walking and working I’ve been doing in and around L8 these last forty years.

Which is why I so wanted to see this exhibition. A friend had told me about it during the 4 Streets Market on Saturday, and as it happened my ‘aimless walk’ the day after led me to the Pier Head to see the Dazzle Ship and then into the Museum of Liverpool to see ‘L8 Unseen.’L8 Unseen02The exhibition is a mix of historic photos by L8 residents and new work by Othello De Souza Hartley. So nothing you’re seeing here – apart from the obvious ones of the museum – is a photo by me. Continue reading

The pleasures of walking aimlessly

Leaving the house today with my walking boots on I don’t, as so often, know where I’m going. But walking down the road I decide I’ll get on the first bus that comes, get off it as soon as I see something interesting, and start meandering round from there.

I’m in luck, the bus is the 76. A curious beast that meanders almost all the way around the circumference of the city centre before finally giving in and turning down London Road. I’m not on it until then though because I see this.

Seen from the window of the 76 bus. A vision of brutality.

Seen from the window of the 76 bus. A vision of brutality.

I get off at the next stop for a closer look. Turns out it’s to be ‘Liverpool’s Bio Tech Hub.’ So there, another hub. I must say I’m getting very tired of the word, already turning old as an early century affectation for where we’d have merely called something a ‘centre’ or even plain old ‘building.’ Oh well, no doubt some mover-shaker go-getter with very long pointed shoes got paid a packet to come up with the term.

Here is the 'hub' in full. Just next to the coming on quickly new Royal.

Here is the ‘hub’ in full. Just next to the coming on quickly new Royal.

Continue reading

All will be well

All will be well01It’s a Street Market morning, first one of the year. Winter has passed, the light has returned and all feels well with the world as I set off for Granby. Though the days of darkness have been hard for many our once every five years go at proper democracy is only a month away. And dull though the election campaign has been so far, it does lift the heart to know that the current custodians of austerity politics may well be gone soon, despite the barking and howling of their lap dog and attack dog media.

Along Smithdown.

Along Smithdown.

And Ullet Road, a perfect Spring morning.

And Ullet Road, a perfect Spring morning.

Continue reading

Street Market: A look around Granby

Before the first Street Market of 2015, a look around the streets on site.

You will be there won't you?

Art work painted, by the way, by Community Land Trust Chair Erika Rushton. Beautifully done.

Approaching Granby from town.

Approaching Granby from town.

Now we’re always saying the 4 Streets are ‘the last 4 original streets of Granby remaining.’ But actually there’s another half of one near the beginning of Princes Avenue.

The remaining half of Hatherly Street.

The remaining half of Hatherley Street.

It’s mostly, but not quite empty and I don’t know what the plans for it are? Continue reading