I spent the weekend, post-election, mulling the impact of a Tory majority government on public services and of a UKIP council on Thanet. TDC’s facing a fall in revenue spending power per dwelling of 17% in 2015-2016; much more to come.
Feeling faintly impotent to stop the ongoing evisceration of public services and hatchet job on local government but determined not to get too depressed, I’ve been thinking about some cool ideas for things in Margate I’d like to help make happen.
Here are a few suggestions! If anyone likes the sound of them, please drop me a line.
1: A Makerspace
A shop floor/walk in space for makers, hackers, programmers, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, inventors and other creative wierdos to do cool shit. I’m sick of (my kids for example) learning computing at school from a very passive end-user perspective. Can we get some Raspberry Pi/Arduino classes going? A 3D printer? I’d be first in line to tinker…. Some infosec classes to teach people how to use basic PGP and Tor (hey, the government may be about to shred the Human Rights Act, of which privacy is such an important part) . A mini, hands-on series of classes…. That could even extend to refresher classes on basic science/engineering; short and sweet car/motorbike repair classes. You get the picture. I bet there are lots of people out there who’d love to revisit their dismal science and tech classes at school but in a fun, lively way. I can think of loads of people who could contribute to this. Anyone want to talk about trying to make this happen? Get in touch!
Here’s Bristol’s Hackspace; New York’s Makerspace; Nottingham Hackspace for a few ideas of how others are doing it… There are lots of empty shops in Margate. I wonder if an interested landlord would mind hosting? The Science Museum also bring workshops to communities, could be fun…Here’s a piece from Wired, “5 Hacks to Explore with your Kids” to get you thinking…
2: A Festival of Ideas
The best thing about the elections was dropping off leaflets and finding myself engaged in interesting conversations, about the pending food and water security crisis, about global warming, about innovative forms of governance, energy generation, taxation… Margate could do with an informal, free, year-round Festival of Ideas, with interesting guest speakers giving presentations/talks followed by conversation, debate and maybe cold beer to boot. This is one thing I’d really like to get going, however informally to start with… Interested? Know some interesting people who could come and get neurons firing? I know a few. Brett Scott, author of the excellent “Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance” has already offered…
Bristol do a cracking job of this. I see a more anarchic version here in Margate, but along the same lines. Want to help? Got some ideas? Drop me a line please!
3: An Urban/Community Garden on the High Street
I keep talking about this and not getting anywhere, partly through busyness and partly through others’ negativity towards the idea (oh yes…) You know that shitty half-garden bed at the top of the High Street, just round the corner from Yama’s towards Mill Lane car park? That whole area could be sexed up with little effort; extend the garden bed and get it full of interesting heritage plants, fruit bushes, you name it. Everytime I raise this, people could “blah blah blah it will get vandalised, it will get pissed on, it will get bottles in it…” So what. Worth trying anyway. It would be a great addition to the High Street and a little patch of iridescent and well-tended life in a faintly forlorn corner. Local shopkeepers are keen (those I’ve spoken to) as at the moment the area attracts some drug dealing and other sculduggery. No, a few gooseberry bushes aren’t going to stop that, but let’s at least give it a bit of TLC. If anyone knows who I need to talk to at TDC to try to help kick this into gear/get permission to do some digging, holler.
4: An Independent Investigative Journalists’ Syndicate (sounds very serious doesn’t it? 😉
Oh boy. Does Thanet need this. So many good stories around that don’t get the attention they deserve, because they’re time-consuming to research and, erm, potentially likely to result in litigation. A collection of citizen journalists who can sit in on council meetings, write and research, do some digging and stand up legally sound, well written long-form pieces that are not agenda-driven, beyond they seem of public interest and deserve closer attention would be great (for publishing on a dedicated blog perhaps…) This could cover the spending of public/grant money, for starters. Is there a single journalist in the county, for example, paying attention to the hundreds of millions allocated and spent by the South East Enterprise Partnership? Not to the best of my knowledge…
I know a few people who are keen on collaborating on this. More are welcome. There may be funding available. Get in touch…