Hoping for a conversation, but never mind

Last week I and many others attended Urbanized, the second film in the #cityseriesleeds set of films. The aim of the series, other than showing different films in a great little cinema in Hyde Park, is to encourage discussion and debate under the #cityseriesleeds tag and on various forums, here included, about how Leeds is and how it could be.

Both films so far have touched on the design and development of different cities across the world. The discussion in the cinema following Urbanized focussed on the community engagement processes of the various city design projects shown in the film. Someone suggested that trying to get everyone’s views in any consultation just won’t help and that some consultation is just seen as ticking the box. A point was also made, as shown in the film, that perhaps smaller and different ways of getting people’s views might better help those tasked with delivering the projects. That it gives planners, architects, designers and those elected and responsible for setting direction get a gut feel, so they can lead the project forward based on their experience and mandate. A few folk talked about how they thought timely communication at different stages of any engagement is crucial. Someone suggested that consultations/discussions are usually hijacked by the ‘usual suspects’ who shout loudest and are likely to put others and the little voices off contributing.

Time always catches up with things just when they are getting interesting but those present were asked to continue the discussion online. This post is part of that.
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Just a little bit proud

Today I’m the parent of two teenage sons. Tomorrow the eldest will be 20. I will have a 20 year old and in 9 days an 18 year old. When did that happen?

Happy birthday boys!

Helligan 2002

Me and my boys at Helligan circa 2002.

When you decide to have kids, let’s face it, you have no real idea what you are about to take on. Helping them to walk and talk, sleepless nights, grazed knees and illnesses, birthday party manicness, the financial implications of increasing the world’s population, sharing their disappointments and achievements and many other things including the good times, days out and holidays. You take on a responsibility for their upbringing and safeguarding until they become an adult. Continue reading

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Not quite anywhere, but somewhere liveable for #cityseriesleeds

St Matthews

I recently saw the letter sent to people living on the route of the upcoming Tour de France informing what will happen on July 5 and in the run up. A fair few cyclists will make their way from central Leeds, up Scott Hall Road (welcome to Yorkshire!), along Harrogate Road, to the north of Moortown Corner, across the outer Ring Road and on to Harewood.

The letter mentioned the cyclists would visit Chapel Allerton and Moortown. So I checked the route and if anyone sat outside Sunshine Bakery or The Queen’s Arms in Chapel A sees Bradley Wiggins ride by on July 5, then summat will most definitely be up with t’tour. It doesn’t go through what I would call Chapel Allerton. Maybe others would agree. Continue reading

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Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be….

The title of this post is taken from a TV series that ran for nearly 20 years. Called Stars In Their Eyes, it involved members of the public, sometimes celebrities, impersonating famous people from the music industry by singing one of their songs. At the beginning of each impersonation you got to see the person going about their own life and giving clues about who they were going to impersonate. Just before their transformation into the pop star, they would introduce themselves by saying the words, “Tonight Matthew, I’m going to be [insert pop star's name].”

I’ve no desires to be a pop star or impersonate others but this week has been helpful in better understanding the need to define the difference between me as Phil from Moortown and as Phil from the council. Continue reading

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Seeing things differently

2013-08-28 16.32.37

In 2013 I was fortunate enough to travel to Australia. Whilst it’s a fabulous place, more here, something happened there that really made me think about stuff and how I sometimes view things.

I like a coffee every now and then, perhaps more now than then, but stay with me on this. It was late in the afternoon and the sun was just starting to sink. We’d been doing the sights in Sydney and decided to have a drink in one of the quayside bars. The tables had sun shades and we chose a table; part inside and part out as it was cooling down. I’d picked a seat that was in the shade but that would be in the sun shortly. Continue reading

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Having a say, it’s our culture

GG quote

Things get messy sometimes but mostly, when the dust has settled, some good comes out of it.

I’m writing this as ‘Phil from Moortown, Leeds’ rather than ‘Phil from the council’, although sometimes I can see it’s difficult to tell. More on that here. Does that matter? On this occasion; yes – big time.

On Friday night, my football team – Leeds United, got itself in a huge mess. The story is still unfolding but in summary the club announced it had sacked the manager and then yesterday announced it hadn’t. Who knows what will happen tomorrow. Messy, very messy and a bit embarrassing for the club, the fans and the city. It made me feel embarrassed to come from Leeds. Stupid I know, but true. I care about my club and my city. It’s times like these that you find out how much. Twitter and various other forums lit up with unanimous condemnation of what had happened. Some immediately disassociated themselves with the club, something they had loved for years. They will probably return. Continue reading

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2014 – has to be more than an interest

I made the decision to spend holiday time with friends and family over Christmas and that meant less time online. Time with them is precious and it’s too easy to neglect loved ones for work related things. I did however spend time reflecting on 2013 and contemplating what 2014 would bring.

2013 was a busy year with plenty of changes at work and home and much learnt. Some of the things I realised were:

  • most of the time I talk sense and make informed decisions;
  • the rest of the time I need to listen to others as we’re never too old to learn new skills or to try and see things differently;
  • 0thers rely on me more than I thought;
  • I therefore need to keep myself fit in body and mind to be effective;
  • if we think we have been through a lot of recent changes in how we live and work then it is nothing to what is yet to come.

Crucially, I’ve realised all the above rely on the success of the second and fourth points. If we are over committed, stressed, aren’t fit or able to continue to learn we will be less effective. Listening, learning, contributing to, sharing and developing what others are doing can be creative ways of problem solving. It’s basic stuff but sometimes overlooked as we go about the daily grind..

So some things I’ve recently read that I want to share and highlight as I think they will become mainstream for me and hopefully others too in 2014. I hope you find them useful. Continue reading

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