Greets Green?: Local histories and Xchanges

Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Session with Reena - across from Oak House

After our session with Barry we went across the road to visit Reena. Kath Hewitt had put us in touch with Reena and we had a really good session talking about what it was like to grow up across the road from Oak House and stories about playing on Marl Hole.

Also discovered that Reena recognised our faces - from when we were dancing at the Vikram New Year Festival at Shri Krishna!!

Barry - Security Guard at Oak House

Arranged to go and talk with Barry the security guard at Oak House - had to go round the side and shout him as the grounds were locked up for the night. Spoke about the changes that had been made to Oak House about four years ago, in terms of fencing and security, and about the differences that these had made to the lives of the local residents.

Multimedia stuff at Decoy

Went back to our warehouse in Digbeth to work on bringing together the multimedia aspects of the project - we've amassed loads of interesting material - always a bit daunting at first (over 15 hours of audio material to be captured and edited!!) - but also really exciting - the anticipation as the project starts to take off in another new direction!!

St Andrew's Church

We dropped off a cd and some printed copies of the photographs we took during the Harvest Festival at St Andrew's Church at the beginning of the project. Hopefully they'll be able to use the photos in their Newsletter.

On Patrol with Tony (Neighbourhood Warden)

We'd arranged to join Tony on his shift this morning. He'd got in touch with Bob and Margaret, a couple who'd been together for 65 years, had met when they were 17 and had been born and raised in Greets Green! Got some great stories off both of them, from tales about courting behind the back of the Bakery to swimming for a mile or two up and down the canals!! Margaret really enjoyed using the digital camera and seeing the results of the photos that she'd taken straight away. Really interesting stuff.

Also went for a walk with Tony around the back of the Rec& made plans to join him again in the near future to talk with people who are opposed to the redevelopment of the Rec and the demolition of peoples homes involved in this.

Monday, November 29, 2004

Golden Oldies - YMCA

Introduced our project and then went round working with individuals and groups who were interested in the project. Spoke to Vera the Chair who's lead a very interesting and active life within the local community. Also spoke to Peter, who we'd previously meet at the Swan Village Action Group, and who was very interested in the recent developments concerning the THEpUBLIC's new building.

Also spoke with Ann & Joan who are both 82, now live on the same street and amazingly went to the same school as each other!! In all this was a really friendly and welcoming group and we had alot of fun with them.

In exchange we helped out with the bingo - pulling out a few prize winners from the hat!!

Session with Roy - Swan Village Action Group

Came out of the YMCA Dance Studio after the Keep Fit session, went to get a coffee & saw Vera the Chair of the Golden Oldies group who we were doing a session with at 2pm. Vera had recently been bitten by a local dog - but fortunately she was fully recovered. She was kind enough to use her influence at the YMCA to get us a couple of free coffee's - thanks Vera. Then Roy, who's the chairman of the Swan Village Action Group, also walked past with a load of goodies and prizes for the Golden Oldies bingo. Said hello to Roy and arranged to do an impromptu session with him in the cafe before the bingo started.

Session with Roy went really well - he's a very active and well informed member of the local community and it was good to hear his views on the redevelopment of Greets Green and THEpUBLIC's new building (he sat on the interview committee for THEpUBLIC's new community artist). He also cleared up the confusion surrounding the name Greets Green and it's use over the history of the New Deal for Communities scheme.

YMCA - Senior Citizens Keep Fit

Went along to Pauline's keep fit club at the YMCA. Interviewed several of the group about their views on the redevelopment of Greets Green, including THEpUBLIC's new building. Really good & challenging session. Pauline and the ladies confirmed that they would like someone from THEpUBLIC to come down and talk to them - will pass Pauline's no. on to Trev.

Saturday, November 27, 2004

Green Gym - Warley Woods - Cancelled

We were planning to join the Green Gym in Warley Woods today, as it's such a nice place and as they're such a friendly group. Texted James and found out that unfortunately it had been cancelled as none of the volunteers could make it that day.

Friday, November 26, 2004

Afro-Carribean Luncheon Club - YMCA

Bumped into Tony one of the Neighbourhood Wardens outside the YMCA, he said that he'd arranged for us to visit a local couple who'd been born and bred in Greets Green on Tuesday coming, it also turned out that he was visiting the Afro-Carribean Luncheon Club aswell!

Everyone at the club was extremely friendly and we talked a lot about what it was like to come from the Carribean to West Brom in the sixties. The fog that was caused by the steam trains and all the local industry was one of the main memories that people had. Another recurrent theme was that several people had only planned to come to England for a few years before returning to the Carribean, but had ended up staying their whole life!

Took some photographs of the group and everyone was very interested in the digital camera, so gave a demonstration about it.

Tony then gave his talk about the role of the Neigbourhood Wardens - decided to also record this as it sounded interesting and relevant to the project.

Thursday, November 25, 2004

Sandwell Stride - Walking for Health

Joined the Walking for Health group again. Very nice day - we started doing some interviews and taking photographs of the walk with the participants. Bob had some very interesting stories about the local area and is very knowledgeable about local history. Had some good chats with Doreen, Mary and Assad (one of the walk leaders). Also gave a massive bag of copper coins that we'd collected over the last year or two to Pamela Whyman who's church was collecting them as part of a fundraising effort. The coins were going to be used to create a mosaic in the church before being contributed to the fundraising total.

Monday, November 22, 2004

Lifts and Errands

Gave our good friend Eleanor a lift over to Wood Lane Community Centre where she's doing a Silver Surfers project for THEpUBLIC. Popped in to see Kath Hewitt at Greets Green Partnership, updated her about how the project was going, asked for a couple of reminders about contacts that she'd given us, and asked if she'd request a few copies of the massive A0 Greets Green map that we've been hankering after for the exhibition. Also called in on the Neighbourhood Wardens and arranged to go out on patrol with Tony a week on Tuesday.

Friday, November 19, 2004

Afro-Carribean Luncheon Club

Gave an introductory talk about our project to the Afro-Carribean Luncheon Club. Pauline does a keep fit session with them and she'd arranged this opportunity, so a big thanks to Pauline for that. Just gave a short talk and had a quick chat, but it went very well, everyone was very interested and we arranged to come back the following week and do a proper session.

Meeting with Trev & Caitlin

Had a meeting with Trev and Caitlin at THEpUBLIC. Made arrangements for the live exhibition of the project that will be starting on the 6th Dec in the foyer at THEpUBLIC, talked about how the project was going, the bad perceptions that quite alot of locals seemed to have with regard to THEpUBLIC and participatory art. Also talked about possible future projects and the development of our relationship. Good meeting!

Cancelled Healthy Walk

Had arranged to join another healthy walking group this morning. James from the Green Gym had suggested we contact Joe about the conservation work and healthy walks that he led. However got a phone call off Joe and unfortunately he was ill and unable to lead the walk that morning. Although the walk was still going ahead, decided it would be better to leave it until Joe was better.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Blogging at Decoy

Went to Stony Lane allotments, but the Green Gym crew weren't there - very wet windy weather so who could blame them? Had also planned to go on the Sandwell Stride in the afternoon - however due to the weather decided it would be better to spend our time collating some of the stuff that we'd gathered over the last month or two at our warehouse in Digbeth, Decoy.

Tuesday, November 16, 2004

Green Gym - Stony Lane Allotments

Met up with the Green Gym group at Stony Lane allotments at the back of Smethwick High St. Helped with clearing overgrown plots that will be used by other community groups in the future. Took some photogrpahs with the group and also did some interviews with them. Lots of fun!!

Monday, November 15, 2004

YMCA - Senior Citizens Keep Fit

Kath Hewitt had suggested we get in touch with Pauline who does a keep fit session at an Afro-Carribean Luncheon Club at the YMCA on Fridays. We spoke with Pauline & she told us that she also did a women's keep fit club on Monday mornings. We therefore arranged to go along and have a chat about our project with both of these groups.

Turned up to the ladies keep fit group & spoke about the project that we were doing. Upon finding out that we had been commissioned by THEpUBLIC the ladies let us know what their views of the new THEpUBLIC building were - on the whole they did not have a very high opinion of THEpUBLIC and the new building, thinking that Greets Green and West Brom were more in need of such things as a swimming pool & a theatre. This was a very interesting session and certainly opened our eyes to some of the local feelings about THEpUBLIC, while also making us question our hopes and ambitions for the project.

Thursday, November 11, 2004

Sandwell Stride - Walking for Health

Went out for another walk around Sandwell Valley with Sandwell Stride, who are based at the YMCA. Meet some more interesting people and had some good chats in the cold november air, with the sound of traffic from the M5 drifting on the wind.

Green Gym - Ecological Disaster at Warley Woods

Helped out with more holly thinning - great fun & you can really see the difference now - the bushes are starting to look a lot clearer.

On a downside we were also notified about an ecological disaster that had occured on the far side of the woods - on the site of an old victorian path that the Green Gym had cleared and restored last summer & which supported a habit for a local butterfly population - the Warley Woods Project Manager had apparently struck a deal with developers from the Bull Ring to take a delivery of slag & construction waste. Such waste products from the construction industry are very expensive to dispose of in a sustainable manner and in a bid to cut costs such deals are apparently common within the construction industry. Rather than pay to dispose of such waste in a responsible manner construction companies apparently strike deals with park managers whereby if the park takes the construction waste the constructors will provide in exchange a fixed amount of labour (minimum wage no doubt) to be used by the park. In this case the waste was apparently to be used as part of a golf course redevelopment, however the careless manner in which this waste from Birmingham's flagship shopping centre had been uncerimoniously dumped on a local park meant that a delicate ecosystem had been destroyed.

Big up to Birmingham's shiny new shopping centre :-(

Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Interviews and Lunch at Shri Krishna

Helped set up the dinning hall for lunch at Shri Krishna, enjoyed another great meal & conducted interviews with Marris & . . . .

Thanks to the cooks!

Monday, November 08, 2004

Gardening for Stories at Mrs Patel's

Went round to Mrs Patel's house to help her with her garden. Had a good morning clearing the garden which had become slightly overgrown since Mrs Patel had broken her leg six months ago. Mrs Patel then treated us to a lovely curry for dinner by way of thanks for our work. We then spoke with her about her experiences in West Brom and Greets Green.

Click here for photographs

Thursday, November 04, 2004

Sandwell Stride - Walking for Health

My Birthday!! Went for a walk with Sandwell Stride around Sandwell Valley. Sandwell Stride is organised by the YMCA & we'd seen their leaflets when we first visited the YMCA with FRANCIS. We popped in the day before and spoke to ASAAD, one of the walk leaders, to check if it was ok for us to come along on the walk.

This is a really friendly group of people, very chatty, with lots of interesting things to say. We really enjoyed going out with them.

Wednesday, November 03, 2004

Weeding for Dinner - Shri Krishna

Went to Shri Krishna and helped Raman and members of the Visamo luncheon club with weeding in their front garden. In return for our help we were treated to a tasty and spicy dinner courtesy of Visamo.

Check out more action gardening photographs

Also met Mrs Patel and Raman's brother Marris. Unfortunately Mrs Patel broke her leg about six months ago. She is well on the way to recovery now but she hadn't been able to keep on top of her garden, so we agreed to go round to her house and help clear her garden in exchange for stories about her experiences in West Brom.

Tuesday, November 02, 2004

Green Gym - Warley Woods

Went to Warley Woods & participated in BTCV's Green Gym program. Warley Woods is an amazing park, lovely rolling hills surrounded by old woods, beautiful skyline of trees, could fool yourself that you're not in the middle of a conurbation from certain angles. I used to live about 5 roads away but had never visited it - now I know!! We were thinning holly bushes to improve security in the park and it was great fun, really refreshing to be out working in the woods in the cold autumn air.

View the boot full of holly