The Edible Bus Stop

I’ve made a short documentary about the Edible Bus Stop (no it isn’t made of chocolate), a community gardening project which began in Stockwell and which is now spreading to at least a couple of other sites in south London.

Winter veg at the Edible Bus Stop.

Winter veg at the Edible Bus Stop.

Two end of terrace houses were destroyed in World War Two and never replaced, leaving a wide piece of pavement on Landor Road which came to be home to a bus stop, telephone box and a few – apparently neglected – flower beds. When a planning proposal was made to build two houses a couple of years ago, a community effort resulted instead in the construction of a community garden instead – the Edible Bus Stop was born.

Apart from being a completely charming example of community-led public realm improvement, the Edible Bus Stop is playing into wider debates about food production and urban greening in London, dovetailing with both the Transition Towns movement and the Greater London Authority’s pocket parks initiative.

Listen to my documentary to find out more, and my thanks to the volunteer gardeners and others involved for their help in making it. There are more of my photos down the page.

Convictions

At the end of last week one of our tutors organised for the political journalist Rob Merrick to come and speak to our class. Rob is in the Westminster lobby and has been since the late ’90s (he first went to Westminster a year or so after Tony Blair came to power), and now writes for the Northern Echo, the Bradford Telegraph and Argus and the Southern Daily Echo.

Understandably, Rob declined to indicate his personal politics, but what he did make clear is that being a political journalist for over a decade doesn’t mean he has lost his own sense of (simplistically) ‘right’ and ‘wrong’, or at least which side of an argument he agrees with. This is in contrast to a couple of other guests we’ve met since the course began, and I was pleased to hear it.

Of course I understand that the closer one gets to the coal face of politics, the more detail there is to see, and the less easy it may be to discern the best course of action. But I would argue that, if you lose your ability to place yourself in relation to a debate, then do you really, properly understand it? And if you don’t understand it, how can you report on it? If I’m not completely convinced by the rules around political neutrality for the British broadcast media, then I at least understand the context, and, regardless, those rules aren’t going anywhere soon; when I do join a broadcaster, I’m fully prepared to uphold the highest standards of neutrality. But that doesn’t mean that I will stop holding a personal position – much of my interest in politics, culture and society stems from my political beliefs. To lose them would be to lose my connection to the subjects of so much news reporting.

Bike the Strike

This week I had the chance to do a piece of work combining two of my favourite things: cycling and the radio. It won’t have escaped the attention of many that there was a two day tube strike in London, and as good student journalists we were covering the story. My angle was to see how people were getting to work without the otherwise reliable London Underground, which I explored by creating an audio journey of ‘bike the strike’.

Biking the strike

Biking the strike

Bike the strike was the brainchild of Mark Ames, of the excellent ibikelondon blog. He volunteered to lead less confident cyclists on his usual commute from Bethnal Green to Mayfair, and encouraged other regular riders to do the same; soon there were more than fifty ride leaders volunteering to help others cycle to work – see them here. I joined Mark and a couple of others; anecdotal observations would suggest that tube strikes = loads of cyclists!