Bristol’s Parks are the most highly used leisure facility in the city with over 82% of residents using them. Parkhive is UWE’s pioneering project to create a crowd sourced archive of photographs celebrating these parks and green spaces. To date they have over 1,200 photographs of plants, people and scenes taken citywide by resident and visitors.
The project has been directed by Sam Thompson from UWE’s Faculty of Arts in collaboration with Bristol Parks Forum, a coalition of resident led park groups and citywide organisations involved in protecting and improving Bristol’s green spaces. The digital photo archive documents the many ways parks are enjoyed by residents.
Part of the reason BPF formed was in response to the threat that park spaces were being earmark for sale of by our cash strapped council. Back in 2010 “Area Green Space Plans” were proposed to sell off 64 less used green spaces in the city to support development of better used facilities. Only 70% of the money from land sales was to be invested in parks, and not in the areas that lost them. It was widely viewed as a cynical attempt to flog off green spaces for commercial gain.
The Parkive project aims to support BPF volunteers working to promote & enhance all of Bristol’s Parks and green spaces. Also to raise awareness of the issues facing UK public parks & green spaces. Parks lack statutory funding so local authorities do not have to fund maintenance beyond the basic ‘safety’ issue of not containing anything that might lead to injury.
With increasing local authority budget cuts these spaces are very vulnerable. At yearly budget meetings Bristol Parks funding is a bit of a political football. Bristol’s Parkhive will help remind interested parties of what a great resource our green spaces as healthy recreational spaces.
“This was a way we could contribute to/support residents & volunteers working across the whole city by collaborating with BPF to support improved civic outcomes”, Sam explains. “The Bristol Parkhive project will continue from the end of green capital year which it’s been part of & we’ll also be looking at how we might be able to use this same approach to support other areas of volunteer & resident-led activity in Bristol”.
The Parkhive project is ongoing and open to all entries throughout the year. Visiting the archive of beautiful park images will give you a fix of green through the grey winter months. And you can add your own images. You never know when they may be used to help protect your local green space from the bulldozers. Parkhive has also created an app that tells you where your nearest green space is in Bristol and can lead you to some real hidden gems in the city.
To view the Parkhive and get the app go to: bristolparkhive.com
For more information on Bristol Parks Forum see: bristolparksforum.org.uk
With thanks to photographers Jenny Clarke (plus top image)