A (brief) history of Beeston Poetry, with DIY Poets and One Plum Poem

A (brief) history…

Earlier this year in April, Henry Normal came to Beeston Library for his ‘Poetry Hour’ as part of Nottingham Poetry Festival. One of the first things he spoke about was that Beeston has had a history of being a poetry hot-spot, and that it was one of the places gigging poets would make sure they performed at. Phrases like ‘Have you done Beeston?’ would pass between poets, giving the town a national reputation.

This has sparked the need for a revival, and you can read our Poetry Round-up section to see the latest poetry events, including a new monthly open mic hosted by Pottle of Blues. But before we get to that, it’s worth having a look at the history of poetry in Beeston, and speaking to a few local poets to get a sense of what Beeston’s poetry scene had, and still has, to offer.

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The focal point of anyone considering our poetry history will undoubtedly always end up being the Poets in Beeston series which ran for ten years from Spring 1983, when Robert Gent organised a series of poetry readings at Beeston Library ‘with the aim of strengthening  the library’s role in literature promotion’.  This was before my time, but I have heard about it over the years, and seen their anthology Poems for the Beekeeper appear in Oxfam Books and Music a number of times.

The first series of events became so popular that they decided to put on a second series, and so on and so on for the next ten years. There are still people in and around Beeston who remember the series, and attended some the events, including Kathy Bell, who offered her insight on the series via  Beeston Updated after our editor-in-chief, Matt, shared the sentiments of Henry Normal:

“Highlights included Sarah Maguire, Amryl Johnson, Sheenagh Pugh, Catherine Fisher, U. A. Fanthorpe (reading with her partner, the poet R. V. Bailey) and the double-act of Michael Rosen and Leon Rosselson. I moved to Beeston just too late to hear David Gascoyne and had to be away when Benjamin Zephaniah performed. I was very sorry when the seasons ended as they were a great delight as well as an education in contemporary poetry.”

There was also a message passed to us on behalf of one of the main organisers of the Poets in Beeston series, Margaret MacDermott, who said: “Poetry readings in libraries are commonplace now but we were one of the first in the country to do them. They were the idea of my then manager Robert Gent. They were a huge success and I think we had almost every poet of prominence except Ted Hughes. We also had what were then promising newcomers, people like Jackie Kay. After Robert left our funding was withdrawn, I can’t tell you how many letters of complaint I received. I am so glad people remember them with fondness.”

Just from reading these comments, I can get a sense of what poetry readings meant to people back then, and although performance poetry has in no way disappeared, it is less common in Beeston now than it used to be. However, with the newly refurbishes library, there has been a lot more opportunities for events, and plenty of these have been poetry-oriented.

To try and get an idea of poetry’s place in Beeston today, I spoke to a few people about what they’re doing, and what poetry and Beeston together has meant for them.

DIY Poets

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The DIY Poets aren’t strictly a Beeston group, as they meet, perform and hold events mostly in Nottingham, but Beeston is home to a couple of members of the group, Martin Dean and Alistair Lane. The DIY Poets started fifteen years ago, with the creation of the first issue of their free A6 zine (they are now on issue 41).

Martin Dean, who has been a member of the DIY Poets for 3 years, describes himself as a ‘one-time Beeston resident’ as he’s lived here for just 6 years. He used to work at Plessy’s as an electronics designer, and liked the area. He says he’s always written in one form or another, but it was getting involved with the DIY Poets and having their support that has helped him with writing and performing at more events.

When asked about what he’d like to see from an open mic in Beeston, he says: “I want to see it bring people in that wouldn’t necessarily go to a poetry gig, but for them to walk away saying ‘that was great!’ The extension to that is being able to nurture new talent and to be able to say ‘so and so: Beeston Poet’ and put Beeston on the map.”

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Martin has also been working on a collection of poems, that by the time you read this will be printed and in the hands of readers. It’s titled The Curious Dance Between Life and Death, and when asked what the themes of the collection are, he says, “It has a balance of life affirming vibrant pieces and the macabre. I’ve sifted and sorted bits that I’ve been writing over the last few years and got it down to a shortlist of 20 poems:  One hanging, one beheading, falling from a great height, dying a natural death, and a soldier being shot in the trenches…then it’s all uphill from there!”

Jenny Swann: Poet and Publisher

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Jenny Swann was one of our judges for the Buzzword poetry competition, and is a wonderful poet and publisher who has lived in Beeston for the past 13 years. Even before she moved here, she had one of her poetry collections published by John Lucas of Shoestring Press, which is why Beeston was on her radar when house-hunting. “It seemed a good place to head for because I knew there was poetry in Beeston,” she says. “Beeston is a fantastically creative community and very much supports its poets, writers and other artists. I feel that by moving to Beeston we got it spot on. It’s a natural home for writers and artists to flourish.”

Her creative journey in the region started when she was introduced to Ross Bradshaw, who asked her to be his poetry editor for Five Leaves. It was doing that job which made her realise how much she loved poetry pamphlets and publishing. “It was through discussions with Ross about how to give pamphlets a higher profile in bookshops that I founded Candlestick Press in 2008 and ran for 8 years,” she says. “I feel that if I hadn’t been in Beeston in the early days I don’t think I’d have been able to do that.”

Sadly, Jenny had to step down from Candlestick Press in 2016, but this has not stopped her creative drive and passion for poetry. In March of this year she set up a new project: One Plum Poem. The concept is that when you give someone a card, they get a poem inside it too, and she currently has 8 different kinds which include: Give Yourself a Hug (a poem to cheer your friends up), get well soon, a poem for mothers, and two designs for children featuring a hippo and dinosaur. They are all illustrated beautifully, and celebrate the idea of poetry as a gift.

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“My push has always been that poetry is this wonderful art form that is a treat people are missing out on, I’ve always had the same impulse for wanting people to engage with poetry,” says Jenny. She’s also got two more designs on the way, including a Christmas card with a previously unpublished poem by Carol Ann Duffy. The cards are currently for sale in Five Leaves Bookshop, Foyles in London, and on the website at oneplum.co.uk.

A Buzzword poem:

A poem for Beeston – Alistair Lane

Across the centre of this land,
From town to town I roamed
Till fortune shined its light on me,
And in Beeston found my home.

Not in shops or trams,
Or vaunted green-space treasure
But residing in the people
A simpler, honest pleasure.

Uncomplicated and direct;
Each spade described as such
But dig beneath the surface
And revel in their touch.

Diligent and dedicated
Strong and firm of heart.
Easier to love
Than an apiary work of art.

My wandering days are done:
No further shall I roam
Now fortune’s shined its light on me
And in Beeston found my home.

Poetry Round-up

POTTLE POETRY
Free, every first Sunday of the month, 4-6pm Pottle of Blues micropub
With plenty of open mic slots, this is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon listening to (or performing) poetry.

INSPIRE POETRY FESTIVAL 2018
Tuesday 25 Sept-Saturday 29 Sept, prices vary
The Inspire Poetry Festival is visiting Beeston for the first time! More poets are coming to Beeston Library following the success of Word! and the Poetry Hour with Henry Normal. For a full programme visit: inspireculture.org.uk/poetry-festival

Lego Hallams

Welcome to the world of the plastic shop…

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10 year old Beeston lad Ewan Cooper has produced a spectacular homage to the iconic Hallams shop in the town centre. With a bit of help from dad John, Lanes Primary School pupil Ewan painstakingly constructed the replica over the course of the last year and a bit.

Featuring mini-mes of many of the staff and local people, the mock-shop is fully stocked with all the usual fresh fruit, veg and seafood that is found in the real place 6 days a week. In the street outside you can spot Nigel picking litter, and the obligatory Beeston thief fleeing the scene after removing the security chain from a bike.

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The whole thing is constructed from genuine Lego parts, the only ‘cheats’ being a few printed labels to provide the extra bits of detail.

Photography by Christopher Frost and John Cooper.

 

 

Creative Beeston: ABC Arts Trail

Letter by Letter by Letter by Letter…

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Beeston has a great community, and many of its community are greatly creative. This was firmly established in the first weekend of June when eleven local artists opened up their studios and invited us all in to see for ourselves. The annual ABC Art Trail involves artists from Attenborough, Beeston and Chilwell, which is how it got its name funnily, and as the name suggests it doesn’t just take place in Beeston.

I followed the trail from back to front this year in Attenborough at Rita Miller’s stunning studio on Long Lane. Her compact converted garage was so extensively filled with serene landscapes and bold still life paintings my eyes took a while to take it all in. “Why did you start at the last venue?” I hear you exclaim. Well the point is, that it doesn’t really matter where you begin or where you end, the standard and variety of work on display will impress you wherever you go.

In fact, in total there was an artist for every letter of the alphabet this year, so you were rewarded with more stunning pieces than anticipated to pore over at some venues. And of course if you do like to wander in a less haphazard way, the organisers had put together a back pocket map that you can refer to on your journey round with each location clearly numbered.

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And let’s talk about the variety! There were oil paintings, photographs, glass and silver jewellery, textile art, embroidered felted wool, ceramics, knitwear, stained glass, watercolours and sculptures as well as an opportunity to chat to Bob Child who offers a traditional bespoke framing service. It was truly an inspirational weekend and I even managed to pick up a few purchases along the way. It is worth pointing out though that not all the venues are artist’s studios.

You could enjoy examples of Susan Harley’s landscapes hanging from the red, yellow and blue frames of the gym equipment at The Lanes Primary School, alongside glittering glass and gentle watercolours. In contrast to all that kaleidoscope of colour, Sara Gaynor’s ethereal photography sat rather well in its temporary home at a Beeston Dental Practice. It’s usual to pick a day and a selection of artists to visit as there are so many, but this year a new challenge was set.

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Three Beestonians (me, Matt and our intrepid photographer Christopher) set off early on bicycles to visit each venue and collect a unique piece of artwork in the form of a letter. As if organising and publicising this impressive show of local people’s work wasn’t enough, each collective of artists at each venue had handmade a letter in a combination of their own distinctive styles. It is impossible to visit all of the venues in one day and do them justice, to make sure that you have made the most of your visit you really do need to stay a while and ponder, and not just the artwork either.

A number of our artists’ gardens were just as attractive as their artwork and we couldn’t resist a wander around some of the winding paths and buzzing flowerbeds. It struck me at one point, how community spirited these people are for opening up their studios, and in some cases their homes, to the general public to wander freely. They are sharing their sanctuaries and their personal collections with us as well as the pieces they created and put on display. The twiglets served in a hand thrown piece of pottery made by founder member Alan Birchall didn’t go unappreciated, and the plentiful refreshments welcome too after a few hours of cycling.

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Another wonderful thing about the ABC Art Trail is how welcoming the artists are. Their joy at receiving visitors was unrestrained and genuine and this made us want to linger a little longer at each venue. I met with one of the artists and organisers Karen Attwood before the event and as we discussed the work she would be exhibiting it was obvious how much of herself she was pouring into her pieces. Not only is her textile work detailed and time consuming, each piece has a personal resonance which must make it hard to let them go at times, but then sharing is what this event is all about. The artists are more than happy to talk about their inspirations and processes, it’s a celebration of creativity! It is also evident they have an appreciation of each other’s work, and although much of their work is for sale there is no pressure to buy.

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If you do happen to be seduced by a brightly coloured piece of glass or an exciting sliver of silver then be rest assured that you are getting good value for money and you are helping a living artist in your community to thrive, and that’s got to be a good thing right? The experts say that art appreciation promotes quality of life and makes you feel good. According to Professor Semir Zeki, neurobiologist at the University College of London, when you stare at great artworks, the part of your brain that is stimulated is the same as when you fall in love.

We definitely fell in love, over and over with the amazing talent and with this home-grown event that makes art accessible for all. And have you guessed what those eleven letters spelled out? ABC Art Trail of course!

DU

Bow Selector: Vigilante Robin Hood?

As I type, slightly over deadline and basking in one of the hottest summers in a great many years things are changing in the world of Robin Hood.

Yesterday and over last weekend I had the fun of welcoming around 9000 people from Nottinghamshire and all over the world to Nottingham Castle before it finally closed its doors for at least two years for much needed repairs and renovations intended to turn it into the world-class tourist attraction, museum and art gallery that we deserve.

But that means I’ll be needed there a lot less whilst the work is ongoing, so what to do? Luckily I’ll still be Robin Hood-ing all over the place – civic events, beer festivals, parades and for whoever else books me – but a few people have jokingly suggested I use my spare time (as if I actually have any, looking after my four-year old daughter, Scarlett) protecting Beeston from the scourge of petty crime that’s becoming a depressingly regular topic on Facebook (and other social media) groups like ‘Beeston Updated’.

“I’m not sure vigilantism is the way ahead…”

I say ‘petty crime’, but if some scrote nicks your beloved bike from the tram stop, from your own garden or outside Tesco, your shed is broken into or you have your purse snatched on the High Road it’s anything but petty and almost impossible not to take personally. All the arguments are well rehearsed online – take care, increase police funding, buy better bike locks (etc.) but there’s certainly a perception, albeit generally expressed in very vague terms that ‘something needs to be done’ – hence some people suggesting (although obviously jokingly) that Robin Hood starts to protect Beeston.

Now I know a few years ago Wollaton Hall was used as Bruce Wayne’s ‘Wayne Manor’ in the film ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and that Batman and Robin are good friends (c’mon, Batman and Robin. Oh, suit yourselves…) but I’m not sure vigilantism is the way ahead – it turns out that even if I caught someone pilfering my bike (not that I have one) I’m not actually allowed to wave a sword at them, much less shoot an arrow in their direction.

And of course that’s right, proper and sensible (not the least because my real life archery skills are nowhere near as good as our legendary hero) and I’ve spent about twenty-five years convincing the local police, CPO’s etc. that I’m actually, all appearances to the contrary, a sensible law-abiding chap and not a weapon-wielding maniac.

Remember the appalling riots in Nottingham a few years ago? The day after I had a gig at the Council House and found myself walking across the Old Market Square, armed to the teeth under the full glare of literally van loads of police from Yorkshire who’d been bussed into stop any further violence. Luckily it turns out waving, smiling and being friendly leads to a lot less confrontation – and I know Sal and I were positively vetted to meet the Queen, Will and Kate on their 2012 visit so I’m not sure a career change to Beeston’s Dark Knight would be that sensible as I’m pretty sure they know who I am. Well, that and I’m quite lazy, obviously.

So what do we do in Beeston? Do we just resign ourselves to lost bikes, damaged sheds an a perception of increasing fear of lawlessness? I hope not. I hope we can all pull together as a community and keep an eye out for each other and our property. Be aware. Help those who need it because (and I say this with a massive amount of irony) we can’t let the outlaws get away with it.

Tim Pollard
Nottingham’s Official Robin Hood

Motherhood #7: SATS…

We’ve reached a small and enormous milestone here at HQ.

The girl child is on the cusp of leaving Infants school and moving up to Junior school. Admittedly, the new place is 20 feet away from the old one and under the same roof, but it’s still a big move for a 6 year old. Change is not her speciality. We recently swapped shampoo and good grief, they really shouldn’t call it No More Tears.

This year has been a tough one for her, and us. She went through her (frankly ridiculous) government-approved SATS. Her school were ace and took the burden of stress away from the kids but the intense workload exhausted her for weeks. I could write about quite how much I object to SATS for 6 year olds, but it’s the same ground and objections which have been banded around for years, except that having lived through it we can speak from experience and not from conjecture. Our little girl is academically bright and very aware of her place in her class, but the competitive nature of the tests made her question her own successes. Her confidence was really shaken and it was hard to see her getting tired and cranky and tearful. Still, I’m sure the government know what’s best for them, and definitely doesn’t profit from the whole enterprise right? Guys??

I really do understand that testing is part of academia and how, done correctly, kids gain a new set of skills by consolidating what they’ve learned so far. But oh my goodness, 6 year olds? Our little one still sucks her thumb in her sleep and curls up on my lap for a cuddle. She cries when I tell her off and farts for fun. (These aren’t linked, I always applaud a good fart.) Her favourite subject is kittens and she can talk about how to do the splits for a good hour if you’re interested. It’s fine if you’re not, I’m not either.

Next year is going to be a super-fun-no-testing-lots-of-trips kinda year, and we’re planning to celebrate all the successes that aren’t measured in class. Kid learns a new move in gymnastics, we’re going out for tea. She stops ‘flossing’ for more than 30 seconds, it’s a trip to Build-a-Bear. She nails the jump off the swing, we’re inviting the Queen round to demonstrate. If well-being and happiness were on the score cards, she is going to ace it.

DL

Beeston’s Water Head or Pigeon Perch?

Beeston’s secret history…

If ‘The Beeston Seat’, (the Beekeeper) is a much love piece of ‘public artwork’, there is a second modern sculpture in Beeston which is largely reviled and ignored. Since it installation in 1989, thousands of Beestonians have walk past it by without a second glance. It is certain that today, very few even know its name or troubled history, yet it cost the ‘public purse’ £25,000 and is the work of the award winning artist/sculptor Paul Mason (1952-2006), – considered by some to have been; “….probably the most important sculptor of his generation in the Midlands”. (Professor David Manley). The work of art in question is the ‘Water Head’ sculpture, which stand on the western side of ‘The Square’ in-front of the jewellers shop. Its story begins not in Beeston but in Nottingham.

In 1985 the pedestrianised Lister Gate in-front of St Peter’s Church in Nottingham city-centre was being redeveloped and Nottingham City Council commissioned Paul Mason. According to the Nottingham Evening Post (Dec. 1955), Mason’s objectives were to produce a work that was; “…. contemplative and tranquil, to induce calm in a busy city”. Taking a year to complete at the cost of £23,000, the result was a marble water-sculpture entitled ‘Leaf Stem’.

“Someone seems to have gotten the ‘plumbing’ wrong and when it was first activated the artist’s desired effect was not quite achieved.”

Returning to Beeston, once again we find change, this time the refurbishment of The Square in 1988/89, at the heart of our story. Early in 1989, on behalf of Broxtowe Borough Council, Mr Barry Protheroe handed Paul Mason the commission, to produce a public work of art, – similar in design to the Leaf Stem in Nottingham, – to stand in the newly refurbished Square. The results were yet again an organic shaped tall pillar of white marble. This time Mason christened his work ‘Water Head’ in reference to the gently flowing water, which in theory was meant to run down the exposed surfaces. Unlike its Nottingham counterpart, Water Head was originally fix into the ground directly over a drain for the recycling water, rather than being on a low stepped plinth.

Both the Beeston and Nottingham installations relied on the visual aesthetics of the play of light and water on their sculptured surfaces. Whist Mason might have been considered an acclaimed artist, his engineering skills and knowledge of hydro-dynamics were found to be some-what lacking. Someone seems to have gotten the ‘plumbing’ wrong and when it was first activated the artist’s desired effect was not quite achieved. It may have been the way in which water splashed ‘passers-by’ instead of flowing gently into the drain which generated the dislike of the sculpture, as much as the fact that when the pump was turned off, it was no-longer the spectacle it was meant to be. The Leaf Stem in Nottingham also suffered the same problems with its water flow and drainage. The water quality of both pieces of art were investigated by Environmental Health and found to be lacking. Both water-features were officially deactivated in 1994, (although Water Head was seldom in operation). For a time Leaf Stem disappeared only to be reinstated on a raised flower bed a few yards to the north of its original site, where it can be seen today. Water Head was re-mounted on a square brick-base in an effort to achieve better drainage.

The concepts and beauty of modern art are very much ‘in the eye of the beholder’. Call them ‘Philistines’ or what you will, when the Water Head was unveiled to the public it received ‘lukewarm’ attention to say the least. The Beestonian magazine labelled it the ‘Stump’. When the water-feature was deactivated, it became a favourite place for The Square’s local pigeon population to rest, earning it the nick-name ‘The Pigeon Perch’. With the coming of the Trams and The Square’s redevelopment, the future of Water Head once again hangs in the balance. There are those who would like to see the redundant sculpture gone for good. The writer is not in this mind as it seems a great shame that Beeston should loose a valuable, – in all senses, – piece of public art-work by a well-known artist like Paul Mason. Perhaps the local authority should find a new, more suitable home for it somewhere away from The Square and with a little care, planning and engineering, reactivate the water-feature. Only then can Water Head be seen and appreciated as the artist intended.

Jimmy Notts (Joe Earp)

The Yorkshireman Speaks: Pensioner Pastimes

The man doesn’t give a pluck

I can’t wait until I retire. It can be the glory years. Just think about all the things you can do. The joy you can get from just paying the world back one day at a time for all the misery it’s caused you. I’d be getting up at 8am every morning, getting into rush hour traffic and then just getting in everyone’s way, towing a caravan behind just to annoy people further. Then I’d go home, listen to Gardeners world, before popping out at lunchtime to go a stand in the post office queue, clogging it up, just for one stamp, glorious!

With all this time on your hands you can discover new hobbies, like my dad has done. He is now the member of a Ukulele troupe! The Pontefract Pluckers! I don’t know what the correct collective term is for a group of Ukulele players, maybe Ukuleleurs, ukers, ukulelites, ukuleliers or maybe a twang of Ukers. Whatever they are it’s a group of blokes that meet in my parents kitchen every week to strum through a badly tuned version of the classic hit “I am the urban Spaceman” by the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band.

“It was like The Who playing next to a busker.”

Playing an instrument is a great way to lose yourself and relax, but it does depend on what type of person you are. There is a member of the group who is a bit difficult, a bit of an Axl Rose, from Guns and Roses type of character. If the band ever got their big break he would be the first one demanding he was taken everywhere on his own jet, saying he won’t go on stage without his psychologist, or until someone sorts him out a bowl of M and M’s with all the red ones removed and a bottle of Evian at precisely 0 degrees. He would be late to soundchecks and have the crazy artistic girlfriend who would stop him going to jamming sessions until his chakras were totally aligned and he had finished feeding his spirit animal.

This guy, let’s call him Brian, because that’s his name, has a reputation for being difficult. He has been thrown out of two other Ukulele groups. At one group the woman in charge asked him to leave because he was always plugging his amp in during practice sessions and drowning out the rest of the group. It was like The Who playing next to a busker.

Another group asked him to leave as he was turning up every week for the lesson but not paying, after a few months they confronted him and he said, “I’m not paying because you didn’t teach me anything I didn’t already know!” what a maverick!

Recently the group and Brian had a “gig” I say “gig” it was a gathering at some parish councillors back garden at a fundraiser for the local rotary club and I had the pleasure of going along to watch them. They “Pontefract Pluckers” were on a little veranda in the corner. Brian had printed out song sheets for everyone. However, when they started it was clear that they would only be background music, like a lounge singer in a hotel foyer. No one was paying attention, apart from the one lady who had a few too many glasses of prosecco and was clutching her song sheet swaying and singing, quite badly, into a breadstick. It was quite windy and the sound travelled but not brilliantly and they had no mics, they only had a little amp, provided by Brian.

They were doing fine but no one was paying attention. Then in the middle of Brian just puts his instrument away turns off the amp and leaves in a tantrum, stopping only to grab a scone from the table as he walked past. I’m surprised he didn’t kick over the amp, smash his Ukulele on the side of the veranda and try to get a riot going. He would’ve struggled to be fair, it was The Rotary Club not the Hells Angels.

@scottbcomedyuk
scottbennettcomedy.co.uk
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University of Beestonia: 30 Days Wild

Somewhere in Beestonia…

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Logo credit to @30DaysWild (Twitter) and The Wildlife Trust

As I write I’m just recovering from a two-day conference run at the University in collaboration with Nottinghamshire Wildlife Trust, perfect for this issue’s ‘wild’ theme and their 30 Days Wild campaign.

The conference itself was very calm, the wildness left for the content of the presentations and debates. We heard about koalas, sheep, badgers, lizards, stone curlew and hedgehogs. Hedgehogs were mentioned quite a lot… not least in our public lecture by Hugh Warwick on Monday night.

I co-lead one of the University’s research priority areas called Life in Changing Environments. We exist to bring together all researchers across the university working in any way on this broad theme. Working with The Wildlife Trusts, particularly the team from Nottinghamshire we were also able to bring together many environmental practitioners from across the East Midlands and beyond.

“We all have a responsibility to look after the bits of the world that we can, our own gardens, our own streets, the nature reserves we enjoy spending time in.”

We listened to panels discuss how best we can all work together to improve environmental conditions for all, and the challenges posed by environmental policy, including those in a post Brexit landscape. These panels included Paddy Tipping, the Nottinghamshire Police and Crime Commissioner, Sara Goodacre from the University, Oliver Harmar, the North East Area Director for the Environment Agency, Jeff Knott, Eastern England regional director of the RSPB, and Ellie Brodie, Senior Policy Manager, for The Wildlife Trust. These were highly informed, enthusiastic debates that were inspiring to listen to.

In the afternoon we heard from a panel about the concerns of our current students’ generation about what is going on with our environment, and not just about plastic. The panel included Katie Jepson, Sustainability Project Officer, for the NUS and Isla Hodgson, Associate Director, of the youth organisation A Focus on Nature. We then listened to a fascinating discussion about how best to communicate environmental science issues to a wide range of audiences including politicians and the general public, and how to best make a difference.

A theme that ran throughout the conference was how we all have a responsibility to look after the bits of the world that we can, our own gardens, our own streets, the nature reserves we enjoy spending time in. It’s also clear that there are many amazing, inspiring and engaging people working hard to make all the bits of the world we encounter better for everyone and everything in it. We should be thankful to them and hopeful that bit-by-bit differences can be made in the right way. Challenges and uncertainties around funding and future legislation make life difficult for environmental practitioners, as it does for those of us working in universities and many other sectors, but there was a definite sense of the ‘cautious optimism’ described by Ellie Brodie throughout the meeting. It was good to hear.

We were optimistic enough about the feedback from the conference to put next year’s in the diary already. It will be on the 24th and 25th June 2019 – keep an eye on our twitter feed @LCE_RPA and we’ll maybe see some of you there!

MJ

I Am Beeston: Alfie Russell, Broxtowe Youth Mayor

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The #IAmBeeston project is now in its third successful year of interviewing and photographing people that either live or work or both in the NG9 area. Up to now mainly adults have been featured. But for this first special colour edition, we’ve turned our attention on a member of our younger population. Someone who aims to help and support others under the age of eighteen through their influence and involvement with Broxtowe Borough Council.

I met up with Alfie and his mum Catherine at their house and had a chat with them, in their large sunny kitchen, whilst Alfie’s younger brother Frank was watching some World Cup action. Catherine is a neighbour of mine, so I have known Alfie since he was a mere bump, which is going on for nearly fourteen years now. So I thought Alfie would be an excellent addition to the project, when Catherine told me about his important role in the community.

“Beeston is a very nice place to live. It’s great. It’s somewhere where you know everyone, and there’s a considerable amount of support for young people.”

“I’ve been the Youth Mayor for Broxtowe since November last year. I had to go through an interview process before I was selected. This means that I am also part of the Youth Parliament, and I’m looking at transport and LBGT issues. At the moment I’m currently working on life skills. Helping others to learn about finances, money etc. Also being part of the Broxtowe Youth Voice, I am helping to promote new groups at the ‘Shed’, the Beeston Youth and Community Centre.”

“I’m a pupil at Alderman White School, which enjoy going to. It’s a good school. Beeston is a very nice place to live. It’s great. It’s somewhere where you know everyone, and there’s a considerable amount of support for young people, with sports clubs, the Cubs and Scouts. I am a member of the Boys Brigade, and I help the younger boys with their activities. They usually have a subject or theme to work with. This is going towards getting my bronze in the Duke of Edinburgh Awards Scheme. I also go to the Pathfinders Youth Club at Christ Church on Chilwell Road.”

“Beeston is full of friendly people, who are only to happy to help if you’re out and have a problem, like getting lost. It’s a good community. The library is very good now that it’s been updated. There are some good resources there. I like looking at all the old photographs of how Beeston used to look.”

“I think Beeston has some good shops. I buy things from lots of different places, but I especially like Poundland and WH Smiths. I like to take our dog Lenny for walks in Highfields, or down by the weir fields. We might then stop off for a drink at the Canalside Heritage Centre. I’d like to see a cinema here, as there would be somewhere else to go on my doorstep. I’d also like to see a Pizza Express. We sometimes get a tasty takeaway from the Cottage Balti.  I always like to meet my friends at the Beeman and I think the recent Street Art festival has made Beeston a lot more colourful.”

CDF

The Beestonian: It’s got nothing to do with bees.

It’s not about bees, is it?

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Well, haven’t we grown? Haven’t we blossomed?

Welcome to the new look of The Beestonian. It’s much the same mag as before, bit bigger, more colourful and with up to 28% less typos. We’ve gone a bit professional, thanks to a grant from the National Lottery. Thanks National Lottery! They gave us some funding in return for getting the issue out to more readers: so we’ve doubled our print run. Possibly it’s the first time you’ve had a copy. If so: hello!

Yet despite the changes the underlying philosophy of the magazine remains much the same as it was when we furtively first used the work photocopier to run off a load of issues back in our early days: to provide Beeston with its own magazine, written by Beestonians, read by Beestonians, about Beeston. We want to celebrate the great things about this town, build a sense of community and have a good time while we do it. Our editorial line is simple: “If it’s about Beeston, and if it’s interesting, let’s get it out there.”

And what is it we’ve found interesting lately? Well, more than we could actually put into a mere 24 pages, that’s for sure*. Yet you will find inside stories about what happens when everyone’s favourite local grocer gets rendered into Lego; Beeston’s burgeoning poetry scene; the wonder of local trees; Stumpy facts; a scientific knight; trails and streets of art; hedgehogs; comedians; parenting; local legends and all your local favourites.

None of this would be possible without a wonderful group of people who each issue go out and find stories, before bringing them back and dropping them into the big Beestonian content bucket. Others make the magazine look lovely, others find leads for us to check out and keep the webpage ticking over. We even have a paper-boy. His name is Will, and he’s great, and yes, he does accept cash tips. Thanks to them all.

We are also reliant on our advertisers to help us tick along: go and visit them and say you read about them in The Beestonian. If you run a business, drop us a line and see what we can do for you. We’re very reasonable, and very flexible. We’ll be happy to have you, provided you’re not some evil company that makes puppy-soup, or similar**. If you’d like to stock us, then we’d delighted to send the aforementioned Will over to drop you some copies off.

I’ll wrap up with a promise to you: despite our flashy new design, despite our slick professionalism, we still promise to make The Beestonian free to read; non-profit and as much a part of this wonderful creative, vibrant, often plain weird community as we can. It may not be about bees. But we’re buzzing.

LB

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