Monday, 8 October 2012

Kensal Rise Library October 2012 update

While Kensal Rise Library Campaigners wait for the decision from All Souls College (and by the way the pledge target of £70,000 was exceeded by £8,300 (and still rising), something else is planned....

Next Saturday 13th October is a year on from Brent's closure of the six libraries.
Not much to celebrate, you might think, but a brilliant idea has been hatched. Campaigners from Save our Six Libraries will run a relay between the buildings, beginning at Kensal Rise Library at 11am, then on to Cricklewood, Neasden, Tokyngton, Barham Park and finishing at 5.30pm at Preston Rd.

Great name too - it's the Light of Learning Relay

Ann John (former leader of Brent council) thinks the closed libraries are in "inaccessible locations" so I hope the runners will be able to find them.... Ann makes a brief appearance in this excellent film which you've probably already seen (but it's worth watching again)

Margaret Bailey explains "Peter Grigg has agreed to run for Kensal Rise and we would like to see as many of you as possible join us at the library to send him off. We will be having a gathering and a reading before he goes from 10am at Kensal Rise Library.

Thank you Peter for doing the running while we stay behind and eat cake.
More details on the relay can be found on our website"

I know it's impossible to read the timings on the copy of the poster so here they are (all approx)

11am Peter Grigg running for Kensal sets off from there

11.30am Peter collects runner from Willesden Green Library Centre

12 Those two pick up the Cricklewood runner

12.30 Then those three pick up the Neasden runner

1pm Tokyngton runner joins them

1.45pm Arrival and pit-stop at Barham Pop-up at 428 Wembley High Road (near Argos)

4.30pm Barham Park Library

5pm Preston Road Library for guest readings at 5.30pm

6pm Much deserved (well for the runners at least) drink in the Windermere Pub. Also great music, raffles and free buffet! Just outside South Kenton station (Bakerloo and Overground) so no need to run there unless you want to.
See a map

More from Margaret "This day of closure of the libraries also marks the establishment of our Pop Up Library which will have been running for 12 months on October 13th. Our Pop Up Library has become a powerful symbol of the determination of this community to support the campaign to keep our library open.
The campaign itself has been going for nearly two years!
It has been a magnificent achievement and we believe our community should be congratulating itself.
We will be celebrating this achievement with refreshments and activities for adults and children.
We will also have We Love Kensal Rise Library Wall where you can write messages. Come along and bring cakes and we'll drink a toast and sing happy birthday and hopefully it will be the last birthday we will have to celebrate outside."

Suggested reading - Haruki Murakumi's "What I Talk About When I Talk About Running" which also covers swimming and is a great book even if you prefer reading to running or swimming.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Libraries latest - August 2012

A lot's been happening in relation to Kensal Rise library recently - so here's a quick update with some stuff about places which are proud of their libraries - Chicago Central Library in particular).

First of all, if you haven't seen this film you must watch it - it's an excellent summary of the last 18 months, bringing us pretty much right up to date...

... to the viewings of Kensal Rise and Cricklewood Libraries organised by Cluttons on behalf of All Souls College at the beginning on August and recent meeting described by Margaret Bailey

"We met with All Souls Friday August 3rd. The meeting was cordial and there was a frank and open discussion by both parties. Thank you to Maggie, Pam and Paula for being a very strong team and putting the case for The Friends of Kensal Rise Library so well.
The College, who said they were sympathetic to our wish to have the library re-open wanted to know that whatever plan was put forward would mean the building had a sustainable future, and this of course means strong finance for leasing or buying the building.
This of course may be difficult for us to achieve, at least initially...... but we do have a plan .........
We continue to talk to other groups who have aims compatible with ours and will be putting our proposal to the College in early September.

Save Kensal Rise Library Fundraising Appeal - Crunch Time!

£14,858 pledged so far
Goal: £70,000 by September 7th 2012

Please put your money where your books should be! Libraries connect communities. Help our fight to prove it.

We urgently need financial support to strengthen our bid to All Souls. We need to raise enough funds to secure the first year of operations (which includes urgent repairs to the building). We have a strong business plan and are confident we can make the library self-sustaining in the long-run. But we need your help now. We are asking residents, friends, businesses and supporters to pledge a donation towards our target of 70K.

We need these pledges urgently - by September 7th when our proposal needs to be with All Souls College. We will only collect a payment if our bid to All Souls is successful. If we are unsuccessful, you will not donate anything.
Please take a moment to watch the video above  to explain more about the cause.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank Daniels for their continuous support throughout our campaign, and for being the first local business to pledge 10K towards our target.

Please log on to our website for further details about making a pledge."

I can't put it any better than Margaret!

And Jodi has just tweeted this (in case you didn't see it)
Day 2: An AMAZING £15,500k PLEDGED! Need additional £55k by Sept 7th. PLS DONATE NOW!
In some places they do appreciate their libraries - Chicago, for example

The elevated "loop line" goes right in front of the library building

The library's wonderful gothic lights

No problem about returning your book after hours - you just post it in this bin

Sorry these next photos are a bit rubbish - it's the Library's mission statement from 1935, which they clearly still think applies today,

whereas here in Brent.....Public libraries at our service?  what a crazy idea

Chicago and Brent do have a few things in common - they both have large immigrant populations, areas of poverty, and bored teenagers.  Chicago's response to this is to maintain a large, well stocked and welcoming library in a large, handsome building, where librarians and security guards feel proud of the service they're providing.  I'm not making this up - I spent a whole afternoon exploring all 9 floors of the library and talking to the staff.

And on the ground floor, with its own separate entrance is the privately funded YouMedia center

where some of the art and poetry faces outwards into the street

Have a look at the teens section of their website

My friend Alison (@nemonemonemo) just tweeted this photo of Tromsø library (Tromsø's the Norweigian capital of the Arctic by the way).  What a great looking building, and...

"because of its convenient situation and spectacular architecture, the library has become a natural meeting place for the local citizens, and a "must see" experience for tourists. The vision of the library is to be a model library in the region of northern Norway. In 2006 the library was declared the Best Service Enterprise in Tromsø, an award given on behalf of the citizens of Tromsø. In 2008 the library was nominated as one of three for the award of "Library of the Year" in Norway, while in 2009 a general poll voted the Tromsø Library the best public library of the year."

But back to Kensal Rise library where the local community also have a vision and are as optimistic as ever, now running a children's holiday reading club as well as the pop-up library, and have some great ideas for fund-raising

So, as they say, put your money where your books should be... and please pass it on...

Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Weeds part 2

Remember the fenced off area of meadow in Hyde Park in the last post with the "Warning Plant Movements" sign?
You couldn't see from my rather dark photo what plants were there - but as well as some yellow and white flowers (sorry to be so unscientific but I just can't remember them) there were a few cornflowers and poppies but also CORNCOCKLE!

So what? Well, corncockle is interesting. It used to be a common weed in wheat fields (like poppies, cornflower and those yellow and white flowers), but you hardly ever see it now thanks to selective herbicides. Back to Richard Mabey's "Weeds. The Story of Outlaw Plants" again.

 This is what he has to say:

"Corncockle, a member of the pink family, with exquisite purple flowers... has seeds which ripen at the same time as wheat, are of much the same size and weight as wheat-ears, and which aren't easily separated out by winnowing. They turn flour - and the bread made from it- grey. The noxious glycosides in the plant, known as saponins, enter the bloodstream and cause a breakdown of red blood corpuscles and other cells. The condition (still common in India) is known as githagism, after the plant's Latin name Agrostemma githago and is characterised by lassitude, yawning, loss of weight and enteritis"

 So you really wouldn't want to be eating that

By the way, I know it's not exactly local, but the North American prairie garden at the British Museum is great.  That's echinacea at the front.  That's a medically useful plant, rather than a toxic one.

The info boards are great, telling you which plants were effective against snakebites and so on

The garden is at the front of the British Museum until the 25th of November.  And if you like taking photos of flowers with columns behind without the bother of finding a real temple (as I do) it's a must.

Monday, 23 July 2012

Weeds..... and Plant Movements

Richard Mabey's great book "Weeds" set me off on a weed-related journey. First stop my own garden to see just how many weeds were there

Yellow weeds - creeping buttercup, avens (with its crazy seed heads), nipplewort

Pink, red and blue weeds - one of the willowherbs, scarlet pimpernel, speedwell, forget-me-not, wild rose and bramble, herb robert and another cranesbill

Grasses - far more different varieties than I realised

Yellow and white weeds - goosegrass and ground elder, with the avens and creeping buttercup

More pink weeds - comfrey (a useful weed) and woundwort with a cranesbill

White weeds - bindweed, jack by the hedge, feverfew, ground elder

Today's weeds - enchanter's nightshade, greater hairy willowherb, tormentil, dandelion, knapweed (I introduced this), self-heal, white clover, small spurge

These are the coarsest weeds - nettle, dock, plantain and two types of borage/comfrey The process of sorting them for their photos was interesting - I found myself doing it partly by colour and partly by what kind of plant they are.

Once the weeds are in a bunch they look different - they turn into a bunch of wild flowers

And by the way, have you noticed wild flower meadows springing up all over the place? Hyde Park, the Olympic park, the raised bunds in Queen's Park, loads of unmown grass with different wild flowers in at Kew. The poppies, cornflower and corncockle have been fenced in in Hyde Park, with a warning sign (probably something to do with the Olympics)

But back to Richard Mabey's "Weeds. The Story of Outlaw Plants". The whole book is excellent, but I really enjoyed the chapter about greater celandine. Medieval herbalists recommended it to clean away "slimie things that cleave about the ball of the Eie", but as Richard Mabey says "It was a drastic remedy. The orange latex exuded by the plant is so corrosive it was also used to cauterise warts". He describes the stone carving of the plant on St Frideswide's shrine in Christ Church Cathedral, Oxford which dates from 1289. And here it is, with its characteristic lobed leaves

The carving shows a scene from the dramatic life of St Frideswide when she had to hide among vegetation to evade her pursuers (King Algar wanted to marry her so he and his band of men were chasing her). I'd say these leaves are the greater celandine... but the reason it's interesting is that as well as being the patron saint of Oxford, St Fridewide was a benefactress of the blind, which might explain the presence of the greater celandine (a "prime eye-herb", as Richard Mabey says) on her shrine.

Other plants are also beautifully carved and easy to recognise - hawthorn, mulberries (being eaten by a bird), sycamore with keys, a grape vine, ivy and oak with acorns. I mentioned the incredibly naturalistic carving to a woman replacing the flowers on the shrine and her response was "oh, they probably carved whatever was out at Port Meadow at the time". Well these days it's mainly Oxford ragwort, but it's a bit unlikely that mulberries or vines were ever there. Maybe she just thought I was being too clever. Whatever. If you're anywhere near St Frideswide's shrine go and have a look for yourself.

More incredibly detailed carved plants - this time in wood - in the chapel of Exeter College. Amazing passion flower with perfect leaves, flower and tendrils, hawthorn and vine. And outside the chapel, a passion flower growing up the wall... I love these connections

Carving skills are clearly alive and well in Oxford as I saw this butcher's display featuring carved fruit and veg in the covered market

Aren't those citrus baskets great?
And thanks for not deciding that this blog was dead. There's life in the old blog yet... more posts soon... Libraries update next.
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