This is the story of Chris Hoare: a grandfather who’s worked for years to clear prostitution from the Waterworks Estate on the borders of Edgbaston and Ladywood in inner-city Birmingham. His neighbours were so fearful of the pimps that they asked Chris to step up and take action. To find out why he did it this way please listen to the podcast.
The tower over Chris’s shoulder is Perrott’s Folly – a building with links to Tolkien. He worked with the Birmingham Conservation Trust (declaration – I’m a trustee!) to prevent the building’s collapse. Next steps are to use it as a tourist draw, turning what was once a neighbourhood riddled with vice into an international family attraction.
The residents have also transformed many of their communal areas. Chris is standing in front of Anderton Gardens, a new garden named after a police sergeant who worked with them. (created with help from Groundwork Birmingham)
The pragmatic approach of Chris and others in the Birmingham South West residents group reminds me of so many others we’ve spoken to on the Grassroots Channel, especially the people of Perry Common and Masood Yasin in Washwood Heath.
Programme 16 of the Grassroots Channel hears about the link between gun crime in Birmingham UK and gun crime in Boston, Mass. Simon Walker, of the community arts project Curio City, tells us about Alex and Isaura Mendez, two visitors to Birmingham who have left a lasting impression on the city.
The Dorchester Reporter in Boston (dead link) A map of gun crime in Alex’s Neighbourhood
Isaura Mendez and her work in her community (dead link)
Simon’s work on the Urban Fusion Website (dead link)
Friction Arts (dead link)
Programme 12 eavesdrops on a conversation between two people whose relationship began with intense frustration and conflict. Natalie Brade and Councillor Sir Albert Bore: one a practical active citizen, the other a senior politician, met when Natalie began protesting about housing conditions on what was then the Lee Bank estate in Ladywood.
Now they work together running Optima Community Association. A little longer than usual, this programme is a rare opportunity to hear a citizen and politician explaining how their relationship unfolded through the battle to regenerate Lee Bank in Birmingham.
Written version of Natalie’s story as a pdf (dead link) Optima Community Association (dead link redirects)
ODPM Award for Sustainable Communities (dead link)