M£2 Underpass Regeneration Project cont…

M£2 Underpass In Eastville BS5. Bristol. England.

What made me interested in the spot under the M32 initially, is the neglect in so many forms which is taking place there. You have a massive highway which cuts through and divide communities; a massive social divide between big commercial giants – Ikea and Tesco, and a deprived and isolated community in lower Eastville; The Frome river also enters the city into a concrete drain pipe, polluted by fly-tipped Tesco shopping trolleys and litter blown in there from the roads.

This community of lower Eastville has its fair share of social issues. Prostitution, isolation, drug pushing, and the place is a dump. There is litter and fly-tipping everywhere. it has doubled in the last year. The M32 also is a cause of pollution to local residents air, as well as noise pollution. The controversial Metrobus which has cut through the growing allotments at Grow Bristol in Stapleton, has also neglected to include serving this community in its route.

This area also provides a temporary home for rough sleepers, and it makes an obvious shelter option in a city where homelessness has risen sharply over the last years.

Contrasts and extremes are also known to be a source of inspiration and creativity and that is what is captivating about this space. The sheer potential it holds, its history, its demise, its lack of planning, its brutal force to tame nature; to control people and communities in favour of progress and commerce.

Over the last 4 years a grassroot creative skatepark was built by the local self build skating community from scratch. Waste collected from the area have become the building blocks literally of this popular space. It is the only free undercover skatepark in Bristol and known worldwide in the self build skating communities. Since they have become the guardians of this space – prostitution and drug pushing have gone down and the general appearance of the space is less frightening and more welcoming to local residents.

LitterARTI has been awarded £10,000 through the Tesco bags of Help fund. This money comes from the 5p plastic bag charge which was imposed on all large Retailers in the UK since October last year. This scheme has already reduced the use of single use plastic bags exponentially across the country. Retailers are expected to donate the proceeds of this funds to good causes, and they can decide how to do this. Many projects across the country has benefited from this – and the same way with our M£2 Underpass Regeneration Project. Dependent on permissions from Highways. 

Just like the area itself, this money is controversial as anything else. It is politically charged also to accept money from certain retailers and commercial giants in that it could be seen as a soft way to hide perhaps other dodgy practices. It is ultimately these organisations which need to change in order to bring more relief to everyday people as well as the environmental tipping point we have started to experience over the last generation and which is now becoming real in public consciousness and our direct experiences. 

How do you take on such a diverse project? How do you ensure everyone is included? How do ensure you stay true to your own principles? How do you somehow redeem this money from its controversial source?

I think by sticking to your principles. By being honest, open and humble. Non-attached to any ideas and talking to a lot of people. Listening. Learning. Sharing. I can already feel how this project is shaping me, the people I meet the stories I hear. The 3 pillars to this project are: People. Creativity. Nature. We can’t tackle the issues we are facing alone. We can’t rely on old systems and thinking to move us into a new era. And before Nature we cannot lie. She forces us to stay humble. She helps us to remember and she keeps us true to ourselves.

Thank you very much to Chris and Benoit for inspirational dialogue this afternoon @ People’s Republic of Stoke’s Croft. Credit for all images: Chris Chalkley.

M£2 Underpass. Stapleton Road. BS5.Eastville. Bristol. England.

M£2 Underpass. Stapleton Road. BS5.Eastville. Bristol. England.

M£2 Underpass. Eastville. Bristol. BS5.  England.

M£2 Underpass. Eastville. Bristol. BS5. England.

Activate your inner Activist: Microbeads…


I invite you when you next venture into a Boots: go and look at the scrubs of most of the beauty houses and look at the list of ingredients you will find:

Polyethylene = Plain plastic

Yes the same plastic bag you now get charged for at the check out – halleluja! Also the most basic building block of the whole plastic family.

Microbeads… yes. You can but only laugh or cry about this… the craze idea of first scrubbing your face with plastic particles… then flushing these down the drain.

Here is a fantastic video created by the Story of Stuff explaining the microbead:

Where do all these things go?? Mixing with other poisons it ends up in fish, molluscs, ending ultimately in the stomachs of larger fish and birds and our own stomachs? The scary question is indeed where does the plastic disappear to. Research is just beginning to look at the effect of the poisonous chemicals released through the break down of plastics and the effect this has on our health. 

What really gets me is the short sightedness in the lack of consideration of the end life of products, the lack of clear information, or misleading marketing jargon on packaging about the products and the lack of directed legislation to enforce these processes.

Lots of work needed to be done for circular cradle to cradle design processes to be adopted. Brands to take full responsibility for their product from conception, through design to final consumer use  – including disposal. At the moment these are all voluntary, and is limited by time and cost constraints allowing for proper research and processes. A revolution in design is necessary, but at the moment it comes down to ethics in the industry… especially in question after the findings in a recent article in the Sustainable Business Guardian about business leaders who are still in denial about climate change.

This is the response from the government regards to the petition to put more pressure on the industry to phase out the use of microbeads.

Basically they are putting an action plan together to work with industry on the voluntary removal of the plastic in facial products and they are doing more research.

This is already banned in the US which will come into action beginning of 2017. So should they need to do their own research, if this is already proven to be hazardous elsewhere? Looks like the industry is looking to buy more time… 

To conclude I would like to say a few things about our power as consumers: 

  • We need to familiarise ourselves more with plastic as a material, to understand its advantages and   where it is really useful – but also know when to refuse it – when it is for single use and absolutely detrimental to the environment ie. mixed polyethylene aka the single use take away fork.
  • Join in petitions to put pressure on industry, yes you are just signing something, but these do work. 
  • Refuse products and services which we do not agree with, and be vocal about it. Go on.. talk to the shop manager or drop an email or a tweet. If it is about ethics.. it is going to take individuals to feel this stuff with us – who will ultimately be closer to decision makers to facilitate change.
  • If you complain about a product, and take your business elsewhere, it is putting financial pressure on businesses to change their ways. 
  • I like the “Activist Revolution for 2016” idea. Find your passion and start making noise about it. Climate change does indeed provide an opportunity for us all to be great. To make a difference. It is a fantastic opportunity to step out of the status quo, question and redesign things. There is such a joy in not having to do something – but wanting to do it.
  • Why wait? Be part of the solution!
  • Note: Good products out there are: St Ives product containing 100% natural exfoliators, also take a look at making your own in this extensive list of products on DIYNatural blog.
  • Of course if you would like to be guaranteed of an ethical and natural product, Lush is just simply fantastic. A wonderful example of a company that just does everything splendidly, such an example to other industry leaders.
Tweet about products to the industry...

Tweet about products to the industry…

See more work done on this subject by:

5 Gyres

City to Sea

Being PALL – Plastic A Lot Less

Green Livvy

Story of Stuff Project

Plastic Oceans

Plastic Oceans Project