Monday 26 November 2012

Highbury Trust Consultation

Tonight sees a consultation on for (another) Trust, and perhaps a critical meeting at Queensbridge School.  This time it's the Highbury Trust, a large space formally the Chamberlain estate between Kings Heath and Moseley.  Here's the concept plan, and more info.

I worry that signing over large parts of our assets to be managed for many years (in case of golf clubs, 25yr freehold) means we, through the City Council, have less say in what the organisations that take them over do with (technically still) our assets.  It leaves the door wide open for abuse, and reduction in access to what we own.

But that's not to say there are people out there who are willing to put time and energy to ensure our assets are put to good use - below an open letter from Laura Watts from Dens of Equality:

To whom it may concern,

I am writing on behalf of Dens of Equality, a community inclusion development agency which supports a range of projects for children and families across Birmingham. With regard to the current consultation we have a longstanding relationship with Uffculme School children through our play outreach projects run in the school and notably Parks for Play the local charity we support. Parks for Play delivers an array of play services in the constituency from large, free parks- based holiday playschemes, fruit and flower garden parks based projects, children's Saturdays clubs prioritising children with additional needs and Playwell, the first and only specialist after school play care in Birmingham run from Uffculme school. Playwell has benefited from productive partnership work bringing school and play practitioners together and enabling families with disabled children to start and stay in employment. 
The key point I would like to make is that children at Uffculme, like most children thrive on being educated in amply spacious surroundings. They have endured three years, particularly the new teenagers, of totally inappropriate prison style Portakabin accommodation whilst the building they were due to renovate on goodwill has been deteriorating at a pace savagely raising renovation costs. 
Children with autism are extremely likely to face extensive social isolation, an experience with massive consequences which we fail to recognise alongside the many indexes of deprivation. These children and young people do not need or deserve additional obstacles to impede their pursuit of well being .It should also be acknowledged that if Uffculme is sited at Chamberlain the Parks for Play charity is likely to commit to a programme of long term fundraising for neighbouring areas of the park, particularly in terms of access and to the benefit of the wider community. 
A measure of our community is how well we treat our more vulnerable citizens and in this instance those of us who have stood back or impeded the progress of this development have cause for individual and shared shame.

Friday 9 November 2012

The early majority

This week I have presented at and attended more extra thingies (forums, surgeries, debates) than perhaps I should - there's quite a backlog of stuff I didn't do, and here I am writing a blog.  Oops.

It has been a mind expanding and twit expanding experience.  One completely new concept to me (probably something pretty basic to you social sciencie types) is the 'early majority'.  It was only mentioned in passing at The ESRC acting local thinking global event I'd been representing HGA at, but led me to consider how it applied across other areas of my life.

At the ESRC event we were discussing car culture, train stations, anti-social youths and how, more generally to influence people to change their habits and make social change.  It was a challenge to, I think, a somewhat fatalist attitude, that you can only work 'with' market forces rather than attempting to change them.

Moving on to the digital surgery, the next evening, a good number of students had come out, or stayed out at Campus to meet up and discuss their use of ipads, tablets and mobile devices.  In some ways it was frustrating to see the university as a whole is clearly at the 'early adopters' stage, and we were looking at the 'chasm' of barriers to make more effective and systematic use of these devices.  But there was awareness of the problem, plenty of suggestions how we can go ahead, both as a group, and actions we can take to make it easier for students to use their own devices, apple or other.

The next evening I had off - Nikki was working in Kingstanding interviewing young folk, so still had discussion around how to change adult attitudes to young people late into the night - again huge challenges, and frustrating to change attitudes to young people - are we still at early adopters?

Next evening was Teachmeet, which I had been looking forward to, and maybe foolishly put myself forward for a presentation I knew I probably wouldn't have time to adequately prepare - note to self, even if presentation is short, doesn't necessarily mean less time to prepare.  Again we were looking at the barriers to effective use of ipads, and some of the fantastic examples of uses across education.  there was one particularly impressive presentation by  Finham Park students who were training their teachers to use ipads.  I'm going to suggest this to our students on our iLearn ning - I'm sure could develop something interesting on these lines at University.   Thanks also to @danielharvey9 for organising a great event.

I suspect I'm placing myself into 'early adopters' role, even if I'm looking to early majority, when really I fit in all of them for a whole range of issues, or for the same issue across the many different communities of which I am a part.  And sometimes things don't go past 'early adopter'  -  I've definitely put a mental block on that one.  But if you were to put yourself in a social sciencie box, wouldn't you rather be 'an early adopter' too?

Tonight?  That's our office social.

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