I’ve been asked by MADE to write 200 words for the Birmingham Post. They’re gauging opinion before the Technical and Environmental Mayor of Copenhagen speaks in Birmingham next week. Klaus Bondam will be at Town Hall on April 6th to share with us how he expects Copenhagen to stays a wonderful place to live.
I was asked about an hour ago and the deadline is tonight. Here’s a bashed out draft of what I fancy saying. Please encourage, discourage amend etc in the comments. Does anyone have details of that survey that put us the 2nd best place for social media behind, is it Chicago?
Is this a good place to talk? It’s not a question we often ask about cities. After all the whole point of a city is that we can connect, trade and work. Non of that happens without talk, does it? No it doesn’t, and neither does innovation.
Conversation is about scale, it happens where it’s easy for people to gather in small groups. The ICC is evidence that we know about audience on a grand scale, but how well do we do small scale gathering?
We need many places where we can meet, deliberately or by accident. That means a city which is easy to walking but above all has many interesting and modestly scaled places that people want to go. It means a tolerance of other’s ideas and interests, a city where people also like to listen.
These are partly planning issues and partly cultural issues. How good are our public services at setting the example and being interested in us, how good our our planners and designers at encouraging the interesting?
And of course we don’t just want to talk to ourselves. Birmingham needs take part in a global conversation. So our schools need open access to the internet and our school teachers and pupils helped to have the confidence to take part in sharing and developing ideas with people across the planet.
Oh and Birmingham doesn’t have free internet access in the city centre, whatever our PR folk may so. So Birmingham Fizz needs to be turned of or turned into a proper free wifi service, so we can finally start hearing each other speak.