Colin Moody responds to this week’s ‘Seven reasons why I’m leaving Bristol’ opinion piece by Alex Rankin by writing his own seven reasons to stay.
Not only does Bristol have so many diverse communities, they are all over the city and I’ve been made so welcome in so many parts. The secret is to care, to get involved in those local action groups, radio stations that want to hear from you, shop at the independents, get out of the city centre and explore. It’s the community spirit that just might save us from these greedy developers who would happily sell units and never give back. Bristol’s communities survive by giving back.
The more the merrier. Because when we fill up the central areas full of festivals then they will have to spill out into Eastville, St George etc. It’s already happening and the vibe at the Easton Food Festival was amazing. I ate and was introduced to cultures that don’t usually tend to head into the central areas and celebrate, so we need to come to them. It’s the way we can make our city thrive.
Bristol will never empty of Bristolians and their accents. Partly because it’s so small and it’s so easy for proper Bristolians to come in. Yes, areas are being gentrified and house prices are forcing people out but have you read Bristol’s history? They won’t take that and let it push them out. Have you seen the Acorn campaign for fairer rents? Do you see people crashing apartment bridge openings to protest about a lack of affordable housing across the city? No way is anyone going to just rail out the less well-heeled. It’s the Bristolians that have the good stories. They are a keystone. I’d rather listen to some no-nonsense Bristol wisdom in a cafe or just flopped in a sunny park as they drink cider than go to a stripped-back exposed brick wall overpriced hipster cider experience to listen to how well people are doing since they downsized to BS8. And besides: it’s the real Bristol people, the originals who know how to bypass the pretentiousness that is rife.
Whether you are listening to the pumps go chug chug at Underfall Yard or cheering on from the terraces at one of our football teams. We don’t put our history in a box and just stick a label on it. We live, work and play our history. And thank goodness we don’t just dress up and pretend the past is behind us. We give it a bit of Bristol spin. Did you see the BME community readings and performances in the Georgian House Museum dealing with slavery? Yes, we have yet to really look at our slave past in those big places like Colston Hall, but we are doing it all over the place in our communities. See point 1.
Yes there are too many coffee shops and on-trend, pre-trend and anti-trend eateries opening up for some. But look closer. They are getting their veg from local suppliers. Their meat comes from less than 20 miles away. It’s a new local food chain boom.
6. Cul de sacs (or lack of them)
Most roads in Bristol lead to other roads. And if the council keep stopping home owners from paving over their front gardens to put the Range Rover on then we may never see that dark David Lynch spirit ever manifest here. Cul de sacs are for people who don’t want to be in the flow, right? Well, it’s all in the flow here in Bristol. As long as that Range Rover isn’t blocking the narrow streets because they don’t know how to park it, and only got one because they made so much cash downsizing from London.
Don’t drive at rush hour. And with electric bikes you can get to work sweat-free on a bicycle now. There are a lot less militant cyclists here so you won’t get bruised walking the pavement as a razor thin Lycra demon zips by to avoid the red light. A cycle ride also takes you through the real Bristol. Along towpaths, over old Castle Park. And wider afield connects you to the other local cities and towns. You can get from Hotwells to Easton in 26 minutes by bike and pick up a falafel wrap on the way without dismounting. A car takes 28 minutes off peak and 45 minutes at rush hour. Get your life back!
Oh, and it never rains and it’s always sunny in Bristol.
Colin is a photographer, TV, radio and corporate presenter who has lived in Bristol since 2009. He is tweetable at @moodycolin
Read more: ‘Seven reasons why I’m leaving Bristol’