Daryl Hembrough and his Human Levitation Act

13.11.18: Tuesday was spent in the company of professional model Daryl Hembrough cooked up in a disused farmhouse on the Mendips with a photographic assignment/project, which more information of will be following shortly. Inbetween the rigour of trying to capture shots in the challenging light conditions were bursts of humour that helped the day tick along, including this particular shot of Daryl seeking to impress the farm cat with his human levitation skills. The cat has not been seen since.

The Downs

3rd year in with the Downs Festival and the second year I’ve been invited to help organise a panel discussion with my co-conspirator Anthony Tombling Jnr on the subject of homelessness and rough sleeping in Bristol. This year’s panel brought together an array of people working to tackle the housing crisis in Bristol. Jasper Thompson who is the founder of Help Bristol’s Homeless, Naseem and Shada Nasrullah from Feed the Homeless, Alex Wallace from Caring in Bristol, Frankie Stone from The Big Issue (Bristol) and Councillor Paul Smith who is the Cabinet Member for Housing at Bristol City Council. Avoiding the obligatory statical numbers game that generally kicks off these types of discussion. We started with a list of names randomly selected from an article by Micheal Yong, which appeared in the Bristol Live/Bristol Post, These are the 50 homeless people who died in Bristol you should have known about.

A sobering start to a day of music, festivities, play, fun, and enjoyment, but its one of the reasons I have come to enjoy this one-day festival in our city. As well as homelessness there were panel discussions on Gender Equality in Music Festivals, which may draw scorn from the self-badged anti PC lobby, but screw them given this is too much of an important issue to be left to the reactionary fodder. Equally exciting subjects during the day, included the aptly entitled Brexit 2019, What the Fuck is Going On? Community Rebirth, Social Networks, Technology and Mental Health. It’s a brave decision to integrate this approach into the heart of the event, and the organisers should rightly be given credit for it because it locks the event into the social fabric of the city, which other events often avoid, wilfully.

A review of the overall event, which featured the likes of Noel Gallagher, Paul Weller, Orbital and Nadine Shah can be found on the B24/7 website.

In a city where some people are obsessively fixated in a debate about the location of a proposed large-scale Arena development, the holding of this event poses some critical questions for me. Firstly, the location of this festival is on public open space that is not serviced brilliantly by public transport infrastructure, but it seems to have managed adequately given the circumstances. Second, and more profound for me…..now stay with me here…

Having worked for Bristol City Council some 15 years ago, moving away and then returning to the city over 2 years ago, I know from first hand this project has rumbled on and is systematic of how large capital projects enter a type of twilight light zone because of political instability. If we are to progress with the concept, then £millions more will properly need to be spent in the future, including technical assessments, the often hidden cost of council officers and the underpinning of any capital borrowing with revenue funds, if the City Council is to provide any officer time and public funding.

Revenue is what funds our public services in the city. In short our taxes, (a council by law cannot finance public services through its capital funds). It’s Revenue that pays the salaries of our council officers and funds the contracts for not-for-profit groups to do the jobs we often do not want to do ourselves, i.e., looking after our homeless and rough sleepers, elderly and vulnerable children. Now I can hear the shout back that one should never confuse big capital projects with more profound social needs within a major city like Bristol. I understand that, and in normal times I would tend to agree, but these are not normal times. These are times of financial austerity on public services. A financial policy that has been absolutely brutal towards those most vulnerable in our city and beyond, but one that ultimately leads to tough choices having to be made about what are our priorities.

Maybe we already have the infrastructure for Arena type performances, and we just might need to work with what we have more creatively? Maybe our music and arts priorities should be about safeguarding our existing network of venues and smaller spaces that support and underpin homegrown talent like the Save the Exchange Community Share Offer (more info here).

But maybe, just maybe, in those public meetings where the heated debates on the future of Bristol Arena will be held, a little sobering humility can be injected at the start of the proceedings by randomly reading out at least 5 names from the list of 50 Bristol citizens who have died in our city. They have died because of a killer we all know, and often seem to conveniently ignore. It is called homelessness and the money spent already on the arena project would have gone a long way to the arrest of this serial killer. For the record these are the five names we shared:

Nathan Arnold

Anne Fitzpatrick

Lee Willingham

Deborah Morris

Wayne Perry

You can read more about them and some more Bristol citizens who have followed their fate here.

Launch of the Bristol Hate Crime & Discrimination Services

Last day of the month, attending and taking photographs at the launch of Bristol Hate Crime & Discrimination Services. As well as being for victims of any type of hate crime the service now brings in legal advocacy, restorative approaches, mediation and conflict resolution services for dealing with hate and discrimination. Further information on the service can be found here and more photographs from the event can be found by clicking on this link.

 

The event consisted of informative talks from civic leaders, charitable and statutory organisations, as well as performances from the Brandon Trust, which is a charity supporting adults and children with learning disabilities and autism. Bristol City’s Poet Laureate Miles Chambers, singer Anthony Thegeya and St. Paul’s Carnival CIC.

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West Holts Stage, Glastonbury Festival

As from 2018, I will be taking over the role of Area Organiser for the West Holts Stage, Glastonbury Festival. In a nutshell, my role is to project manage and oversee the delivery of an audience engaged, enjoyable and safe stage at the festival. I’ve been involved in the stage for 15 years, as well as being a regular photographer at the festival. I start with a great legacy and an amazing crew who work tirelessly behind the scenes to give Glastonbury goers a unique experience. I will do my utmost to honour and build on those who have built an amazing stage for future generations.

Northern Slopes: UK Best Parks

Voting is now open for UK’s Best Park, as voted by YOU! 2017. Voting closes at 5pm on Friday 3rd November and the winner of UK’s Best Park 2017 will be announced at the Fields in Trust Awards at Lord’s Cricket Ground on Wednesday 29th November. Please vote for the Northern Slopes, Bristol in the Best Parks competition under the South West region.

The Northern Slopes, Bristol: This is beautiful open space in Knowle has a stunning view of Bristol, which is not usually seen. It is little-known to people who do not live in the area. There is increasingly less space in this area so Northern Slopes needs love and respect. Please vote using this website link: Northern Slopes Scroll down the webpage to find the Northern Slopes and press the button. It’s as simple as that. If you would like to find out more about the Slopes – then click here.

Social justice, Jews and the refugee experience in Britain

11th October and over to Redland where Vivienne Jackson from the Jewish Council for Racial Equality is giving a talk, hosted by DAVAR Bristol (The Jewish Cultural Institute in Bristol and the South West) as part of the Journey for Justice (Bristol) programme. The Jewish Council for Racial Equality (JCORE) has been working for 40 years tackling problems caused by racial inequality. Tonight Viviene talks passionately about the present climate of anti-immigration and Islamophobic sentiment in much of the national press and a JCORE project called JUMP. The JUMP project is run by dedicated volunteers and provides one-to-one befriending support for unaccompanied asylum-seeking children and young people who arrive in the UK without parents or a guardian. Details on the JUMP project can be found here Stand Up and Be Counted where you can obtain more information and make a donation. DAVAR Bristol (The Jewish Cultural Institute in Bristol and the South West) is an independent organisation promoting events relating to Jewish heritage and culture. Events are open to all, regardless of ethnic origin or religious affiliation. The meeting provides a forum for advancing understanding of Jewish life, culture, and history. The regular programme is a series of six monthly talks between September and April covering a broad spectrum of topics ranging from history, philosophy, art, humour and personal reflections. You can find more information about DAVAR here.

 

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