Tag Archives: community

Urban Orienteering with The Lantern Company

This summer I worked with award-winning, Liverpool-based creative events company, The Lantern Company. The Street by Street, Creative Revolution has begun, and the DIY Festival project is now live!

Back in July, The Lantern Company put a call out for artists to help create a DIY Festival blueprint for families, community groups and neighbours. The Lantern Company is known for producing memorable, artistic events ( City of Light, The Monster Halloween Ball, Lumiere London, Liverpool Sound City, Hong Kong Parade, etc.) Due to Coronavirus lockdown, The Lantern Company can’t bring people together in its usual, inspiring way and so, it launched a brand new initiative. A DIY Festival Kit.

The Lantern Company

From The Lantern Company website: “The Street by Street Creative activities have been specially designed to kick start the party, from where you live. You can enjoy the activities in any way you want – at home anytime or as a way of connecting with your neighbours.

If you want to inspire families, friends, and neighbours to come together in your block / street / local park in a safe and socially distanced way, these activities are the perfect way to come together, apart, and have a mini celebration.”

I saw the call for commissions and immediately set to work on my proposal. A few weeks earlier I’d taken to the paths of Springfield Park to create some chalk artwork challenges for kids and their families to enjoy. They were well received and so I submitted my ideas to The Lantern Company – and they loved them too!

The Lantern Company

So, it gives me immense pleasure (still can’t believe I get to say this) to present to you – The Lantern Company, Street by Street Creative Revolution, DIY Festival Kit. Included are 6 different activities ranging from dance to music, baking, art, and my very own addition: Urban Orienteering.

Playing out is the new staying in! Inspired by old school pavement games, such as hopscotch, this workshop shows you how to create your own fun trail, using basic art materials and your imagination. Plan your route down the garden path, driveway, street, or community centre, with 2m gaps, add a start and finish line and get ready to race.

Rain or shine, young or old, we’ll have you stomping, roaring, twirling, and reaching for the stars, safely with your friends, families, and neighbours.

It’s essentially an arty obstacle course. It can be as easy or difficult as you want to make it. My favourite steps have been ‘Stomp and Roar like a Dinosaur’, ‘Emoji Stepping Stones’, and ‘Walk The Plank’.

For all the info about the DIY Festival from The Lantern Company, including video workshops and downloadable PDF’s, click here.

We’d love to see your own DIY Festival pics and receive your feedback. Share your pics with the hashtag #LanternDIYfestival and have LOADS of fun! 

 

 

 

 

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Let’s Take A Walk

Home. It’s a mix of social housing, those bought out and modernized and those with identical front doors and garden gates, making sure everyone knows who’s on their arse and who has risen above it after years of graft.

It’s a reproduction of a blueprint that makes up vast swathes of the city landscape. There’s no money here. People get by.

Kids still play kirby here, extra points for lobbing the ball over a moving car. On Fridays, the street is dotted with purple bins. Walking one end to the other requires slalom skills to avoid the debris and dog crap.

There’s a blossom tree, about 50 doors down, right in the middle. It battles against the Spring showers and dusts pink petals over the pavement every spring, they’re prettiest when it rains. Light and dark. The best kind of litter.

The puppy with the big chocolate button eyes, caged in the front yard. Now a 2-year-old dancing around its own muck, still in the same front yard he’s outgrown. He used to whine for you to stroke him whenever you passed by the gate. Now he barks, consistently until you’re out of sight.

When he comes over, he parks at the side of the house. No doubt wanting to avoid embarrassment should anyone recognise his car. My parents park across the street, in front of the privately-owned house, with the double extension, high gates, and security floodlights that illuminate our bedrooms at night. My dads gleaming white, 4×4 more at home on the opposite side of the road.

The top-end, or bottom end depending on how long you’ve lived here, is a shit show. The back of the betting shop, chippy, and pharmacy. An alleyway consistently fly-tipped with broken beds, sofas, and ripped bin bags. The sunbed shop, beauty salon, and mini market, under the art deco style canopy, smell like hair stray, burned skin, ale. The extra-large council bin outside always smells like grease.

The kids who hang around the shops mimic adults. They’ve already grown up in many ways. Hardened to life. Head to toe in the latest North Face. Mini bags slung across their bodies, smoking, spitting, swearing. They’re about 8, maybe 9 at most. Full of pent up aggression. Stealing from the mini-market because they know they can get away with it. Barred for a couple of days until the other, local cashier comes on and lets them away with it again. It’s only a can of Coke, or a packet of crisps. Barring them lasts a day or two.

Behind the chippy and the betting shop is the very last house in the street. It’s been bought by two developers in the time I’ve lived here. The first one renovated it by hand. From wedding the 30ft long driveway, to replastering and fitting new windows throughout, he did it on his own. I’d stop and say hi sometimes, tell him the transformation was looking great.

It went on the market at the same time kids jemmied the new PVC door open. They smashed the windows, started a fire in the living room. Pulled the plaster off the walls, exposing the electrics. Eventually the top floor window fell out, framing the weeds that grew again in the front garden. I often wonder what the developer felt like, seeing his hard work destroyed and vandalised, just as he was set to sell and move on.

Kids leave bikes in the front gardens. Lost baby shoes and dummies are propped on the fence posts in the hope of a reunion. Primary age kids walk and cycle alone to school on the next block.

On the opposite side, about 20 houses up lives a lady and my cat. My cat had a litter of kittens at home and once she had nurtured them, my cat bogged off down the road to charm the Whiskas out of my neighbour.

I know all of this because the neighbour kindly knocked on my door and told me she had adopted my cat, renamed her Sasha, and moved her into a very comfortable bed from John Lewis. Occasionally I catch the cat, who I refuse to call Sasha, pissing in my back garden.

I moved here because the house is close enough for us to all walk to and from school every day, It’s also a short walk for my eldest daughter to see her dad regularly too. When I moved in I was 9 months pregnant and the house was in a sorry state. Unable to see my feet and stand any longer than 30 minutes, I relied heavily on my parents to help make the shell a home.

For the first few weeks, we all slept in our own beds, but in one room. It felt like incubation as my body completed the last of the preparations before my son was born. I didn’t want to move out of that room, having the girls close was a huge comfort when it felt like everything around us was in disarray.

Another gift from this house in the ghetto was a life long, real friendship. I may have only been here for 5 years, but my friendship with Kate, just 50 odd doors down has spanned 25 years. Never knowing that when we met in senior school, we’d be mums, neighbors, and Friday night kitchen disco dancing queens, all this time later. She’s a blessing, her kids are amazing and I’m so lucky to have her and her mum next door but one.

Speaking of blessings. Denise lives two doors up. She’s a nursery nurse at the children’s hospital nursery. Caring for and educating the children of health care professionals. Denise has a family of her own. Her partner of more than 25 years lives in a house in the next road. They have their own space but share a life together. Denise always knocks on my door with Christmas, birthday and Easter treats for the kids. For absolutely no reason other than she is the kindest soul.

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The sun comes up in the mornings and illuminates a pyramid gable end of the house out the back. A satellite dish the only blot on the golden bricks. I look forward to this and in the summer months I can time it along with when the bin truck comes on Fridays to collect the purple bins dotted along the street. It’s home.

 

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Community Spirit

Early Sunday morning was more eerie than the zombie apocalypse of Friday night for me as I walked quickly down a deserted Allerton Road towards the 156 RLC Regiment head quarters. Comforted only by the Costa hot chocolate warming my hands, I wondered what I’d let myself in for when I agreed to report on a community fun day in partnership with the Mather Avenue Tesco superstore……which had completely vanished in the dense fog.

For those who don’t know the area, Allerton is a beautiful suburb of Liverpool that is surrounded by lush green parks and boasts a thriving high street with national chain stores and independent businesses alike. There is a proud community feel to the area, with a busy library, well maintained green spaces and flower boxes dotted around the busy coffee shops. The small cluster of wine bars and pubs create enough bustle for a decent night out without causing havoc to the quiet residential areas. In short, Allerton rocks!

Luckily I made it, unscathed to Tesco car park and was greeted warmly by the 156 Reserves field kitchen who were cooking up a breakfast storm following an in-store trolley dash that Dale Winton would’ve been proud of!

Bacon butty in hand I met Tesco Community Engagement Officer and Wonder Woman Sam Campbell who, alongside 156 Regiment had come up with the idea of running an event to reach out to the wider community, shoppers and also other business owners to say thank you for their on-going custom and support. 156 Regiment have a 100 year history in the north west and are fiercely proud of their local connections. Many of the current reserves live and work in the area and enjoyed the opportunity to chat to the public about their roles supporting the regular Army.

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Kids at the event had a ball, donkey rides (I took about 50 photo’s of the adorable Paddy and Guinness …..I’d really like a donkey for Christmas now…hint hint) plus paint-balling, bouncy castles, penalty shoot out and larking about in military vehicles all washed down with slushies, candy floss and cake! That’s how to end the half-term holidays.

No community event would be complete without a visit from a high-profile guest. Liverpool Lord Mayor Tony Concepcion and his wife and Mayoress, Ann arrived to show their support for building strong community links that benefit the city as a whole and happily had a go at paintball before judging the bake-off competition.

I managed to wolf down just the one plate of award winning Army field kitchen chicken curry and rice (but only because I was supposed to be working) to ward off the cold, before saying goodbye to the donkeys and heading home to write up my notes and add all the pics to the gallery, here.

There’s something undeniably heart-warming about spending time with people who genuinely care about and make an effort for others. It’s contagious….and the Allerton community are dedicated to keeping that spirit alive.

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Imagine

I carried out an act of vandalism yesterday, or maybe its classed as activism? All those who know me will be shocked and concerned about my welfare as I don’t do things like this, I’m straight-laced Kate, never get into trouble, get along with everyone and don’t like to rock the boat. Well never fear…….what I did wasn’t arrest-worthy….but I made a point.

I was enjoying a wonderful family day out at the Liverpool International Music Festival yesterday with my mini dudes (pics in the Inspiration gallery) and having devoured our picnic watching Alisha Dixon entertaining the crowds we wandered over to the family area. Sponsored by Liverpool John Lennon Airport the family section of the park was based around a huge man-made beach complete with buckets and spades and giant ice lollies, perfect for summer selfies! My little ones sat and listened to stories, made fairy tutu’s, crafted ice-creams from tissue paper and sported some pirate inspired glasses. They ran wild among giant strawberries, chased a very hungry caterpillar and finally wound up with Sharpies in hand (arghhhhh every parents worst nightmare) to add their scrawl to a giant LIMF cut out with the city skyscape printed on it, specifically for kids to depict their take on Liverpool life.This is where I committed my (not really) crime.

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Armed with a blue Sharpie, prised out of my toddlers hand I quickly scrawled ‘Imagine, Save Our Libraries….Hospitals For The Soul’ above an official illustration of John Lennon. I know…I KNOW…..move over Banksy, Kate is the new face on the scene of graffiti activism! Okay, so it was hardly a mass protest but its something I feel strongly about and I saw an opportunity. I wrote my message in the hope it might make just one person return to a library. I’d like to think John Lennon would approve.

Like most major cities around the UK, Liverpool is facing major cuts to public services and one very close to my heart is the regional library closures. Our city central library is a thing of beauty, after a monumental make over, taking years and costing millions it is now a multiple award winning centre of information and technology. I’m truly proud to have such a gem at the heart of Liverpool, from the stunning roof top view on the fourth floor terrace to the dedicated children’s auditorium complete with stage and toddler friendly bean bags, not many cities host free services like this.

The best bit is, all this greatness filters down to our smaller, suburban libraries too. Fitted with banks of PC’s, huge stocks of factual and fictional tomes plus a whole host of community based drop-in sessions from story time with Book Start to preparing for school courses and financial and welfare advice supported by local councillors. So why are we closing down these places of education that benefit everyone age 0-106?! I understand that cuts have to be made and money has to be saved but these regional out-posts provide much needed social interaction, support and last but not least, jobs to local people.IMAGINE

If you love to read, please shelve the Kindle and go and borrow a book from your local library, meet the staff, take your kids to listen to brilliantly animated people reading Roald Dahl, Enid Blyton and Jacqueline Wilson…because as long as the public are supporting them, the libraries stay open. To find out more about how local people are doing their bit to save our libraries click here……11 year old Elysce writes from the heart.

For more information on Liverpool Libraries, click here

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The Dress Agency CIC

The Dress Agency CIC is like no other clothing store I’ve come across before. I’m going to do you a huge favour and pass on the info about this little diamond of a thrift shop! You’ll be unable to thank me enough if you love high end, good quality labels such as Burberry and Vivienne Westwood at ridiculously low prices. Plus the added bonus is The Dress Agency CIC invests its profits back into the local community, so essentially you’re making the world a better place by shopping! Yay, go you!

 I was enticed into the shop by a window display showcasing an outfit Jackie O or Marilyn would have rocked in their hey day. The handmade salmon pink halter dress, made from fabric printed with ladies in cloche hats, flared beautifully from the waist, complimented by pale pink courts and a fresh white ladies umbrella to battle the turbulent weather. A clever use of colour against the grey backdrop of the looming clouds and slick tarmac. Next to the ensemble sat a pair of black Converse mid boots, a black spotted dress with a draped long-line pink lounge jacket and a popart style handbag, possibly Paul’s Boutique?! I had you at Jackie O, right?

The Dress Agency has expanded massively over the last three years which speaks volumes about how people are shopping for clothes in 2015. The main store compromises three street level rooms with rack upon rack of garments, shoes, handbags and jewelry plus a newly converted basement level that is beautifully designed to show off a huge vintage collection, including feathered hats and gloves against the backdrop of the original Smith fire range, exposed brick and coal chute. Eeeee they don’t make them like that anymore! (must be said in a geordie accent for full effect)

Owner, Leah Hobson was kind enough to explain just how a CIC led business works and allowed me to take a few photo’s of my favourite pieces currently in stock. (Its fair to say we also spent over an hour discussing favourite labels, The Bowes Museum YSL event and why Mulberry changed their design fob from silver to bronze…..I know…random)

  What is a CIC I hear you cry? Its basically a community interest company. Leah invites clients to bring in good quality clothing and accessories which when sold, The Dress Agency takes an agreed cut and reinvests that profit into training and employment opportunities for local people. Leah has connections all over the North of England and provides a friendly service to those seeking specialist items such as prom dresses and 1970’s vintage wedding gowns to original embroidered velour lounge suits (think more Golden Girls and less Juicy Couture).

After trying on every Burberry Mac and Irregular Choice shoe in my size I dragged myself back out onto the Barnard Castle high street. If you live in the North East and love fashion you simply must go visit The Dress Agency. I’ve added more photos to my Inspiration page….you can find them here.

Friends in the North West….we need a Dress Agency all of our own…..who’s with me?! 

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