Archive for 03/03/2015


Pictures of Keukenhof, Holland via RHSI

Picture via North Norfolk Radio

Picture by Helen Storer via North Norfolk Radio

Rethinking Childhood

Street play initiatives can make a real difference to the lives of thousands of children and families across an urban area. This was the key message of the first ever area-wide study of a street play programme, which I carried out for Hackney Council. My evaluation – launched by the London Borough last Friday – also revealed that schemes have caused minimal levels of traffic disruption, and have faced very little local opposition.

Hackney play streets report cover

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greenbenchramblings

When we opened our garden last August under the auspices of the National Garden Scheme and appeared in its famous Yellow Book we included in our details that we welcomed children. We were aware that few gardens make this obvious so we decided to reverse the trend. We made a few quiz sheets available for them to encourage them to look closely. They were very popular and most youngsters had a go. Some were very determined to find everything on the sheets. Great fun!

One quiz sheet featured our little collection of “green men” which we have scattered around the garden, some of which are hard to find.

The other invited our children visitors to seek out the large variteies of wildlife homes, shelters and nesting places.

I thought you might like to see the photos of the green men and our wildlife features. Amongst the green men is a…

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One Billion Hungry: Can We Feed the World?

IMG_1498The Budongo Forest Landscape, in western Uganda, has, in the recent past, seen a marked change in the land cover, predominantly from forest to sugarcane. The expansion of sugarcane has resulted in large areas of forest and bushland being converted to agriculture in the last 10 to 15 years, decreasing connectivity between forest patches. Kinyara Sugar Works Ltd (KSWL), established in the 1960s and rehabilitated in the 1980s, has grown rapidly in the past couple of decades – sugarcane fields now covering some 28,500ha. Until now their growth strategy appears to have been expansion at all costs, largely through the development of their outgrowers scheme. Today there are about 6,000 outgrowers who provide 60% of the company’s capacity. At present they are no longer taking on new outgrowers, due to capacity having been reached at the mill and their future growth plans focus far more on intensification and outgrower…

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Municipal Dreams

Carlisle claimed to have built more council housing for its size than any town in England in the interwar period.  This was an anti-Socialist council, committed (in its own words) to ‘careful housekeeping’ but also to ‘good and progressive government for the city’.  That, in this period, meant building housing and the Council took pride in the quality as well as the quantity of the houses it built. (1)

Ferguson Road, Longsowerby Ferguson Road, Longsowerby

Before 1914, the Corporation had built just 40 council homes – tenements provided in connection with a 1900 clearance scheme.  In 1917, it committed to constructing 600 for immediate needs and planned another 1500 for those living in unfit housing.  The scale of need was unquestionable – almost 15 per cent of the city’s homes were back-to-back; over 10 per cent were one- or two-room tenements. (2)

When that survey of housing need took place, Carlisle’s population included…

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