"Play Out Til Tea" is a great Birmingham Impact Hub idea - but their "neighbourhood of the future" is even better
Somebody’s been having a great play-time in Birmingham today - launching a new park, Port Loop
Play Out Till Tea is an initiative from an organisation we so admire - Birmingham Impact Hub, run by the indefatigable Immy Kaur. We profiled them on their Radical Childcare programme, of which this amazing “ground of play” at Port Loop is no doubt an outcrop.
But it’s also a hint of much bigger things to come. The Impact Hub is closing down this year, but only to go into hibernation and gestation, emerging with something that’s truly ambitious - a “neighbourhood of the future” called Civic Square.
Here’s their intent, from their blog:
Through ongoing conversations around the future of cities, we’ve been exploring for a long time what civic infrastructure for the future, places built and owned by people actively working on it them, and truly participatory culture, mean and can look like. We’ve learnt a lot about how you need to work in cities like Birmingham, with its many and varied particular challenges and opportunities, and we’re excited to embark on a city-wide citizen led design process to shape how this bold next step manifests.
This plan may look more finished, formed or set in motion, but this is currently a draft in order to share a more tangible vision of what this could be and work with the right property, land, developments and finance partners at the early stages of securing a future site, before the collective work begins to shape and develop out its reality.
This article in the Birmingham Mail goes through the area’s planned facilities, which reads like a dream list of sustainable and innovative urban living:
This will be an open plan workspace that will be free for local people, freelancers, artists and early stage organisations to use. “It will feature a range of resources for these individuals to use so they can come together for free,” said Immy, who is originally from Stechford, and vividly remembers what Stechford Cascades meant to her experience of living in the area.
Theatre of Dreams
This inspirational theatre space will be available for people to come together and try out new ideas, community theatre and performances, as well as welcome world class talent to the city. “The space can be split in two to make it more intimate or opened up for larger events,” she said.
BABHaus Children’s Hub
This will be the home of the #RadicalChildcare movement, an idea that was launched by Impact Hub members in a bid to transform childcare in the city by making it inspirational and flexible for parents, children and staff.
“The children’s hub will be called BABHaus and will be based within the site,” explained Immy, who now lives in Harborne. “It will feature an adventure playground and breakfast clubs and lots of children’s activities. There will be an events space and a full-time artist led, flexible and affordable nursery.”
The Library of Things
Rather than just books, this library will feature all manner of items for people to borrow to save them having to buy their own and store them. “Why do we need 50 lawn mowers on one street?” said Immy. “The Library of Things will enable people to share items rather than having to buy their own. It can be everything from ladders to tools.”
The Urban Garden
This will be a space for people to grow their own fruit and veg. It can also be used by local producers too. “One of our team, Daniel, transformed a overgrown, disused space behind is home in Aston into an urban farm,” said Immy. “Imagine if there were thousands like that across the city?”
The Community Kitchen
Batch cooking is a practical way to plan meals for the week ahead. This kitchen will enable families to come together to prepare food in a fun and cost-effective way. “The community kitchen will take the vital work of the food bank to the next step,” explained Immy.
“We hope people will not only be able to collect food but also cook it together in batches to take home enough meals to last all week. They can also share cookery skills and learn new recipes. And, if they use the Urban Garden, they’ll be able to cook the food they grow.“
This space will also be used commercially by people running cookery classes, as the team recognises the need to make sure Civic Square is financially sustainable, a lesson they have learnt from their five years at Impact Hub Birmingham.
This will be the place to come to see new work by artists, students and creative entrepreneurs on themes that are thought-provoking and socially relevant.
This public square will form the heart of the hub, a large open space for events and activities, such as film screenings, poetry slams and music festivals. A monthly market will be held here as a way of celebrating local produce and production.
There will be a cafe at the heart of Civic Square, with chairs and tables out on the square for people to enjoy on sunshiny days. “Open to all, this will be for the wider city and community to use based on the history of coffee shops as a home for social change and, in a time where people are more lonely and isolated than ever, a place to connect in affordable spaces,” said Immy.
The Maker Factory
This is a space where local skills can be embraced to make furniture and items can be brought in to be maintained and repaired rather than being thrown away and replaced.
It will be open to makers and artists working on experimental housing and making projects.
“The Maker Factory will enable people to learn new skills and the items made can be used around the hub and sold locally,” said Immy.
“It will also be a place where people can bring items to be fixed. We have such a throwaway culture now, it would be good if items could be maintained and re-used again instead of being replaced.”
This will be a place where kids can get outdoors and learn all about nature within their local neighbourhood.
More here. We will be talking and feeding into Civic Square as it develops. Superpowered localism to the max!