PHOTO SHOP: How Flickr made a difference to an empty shop

Sometimes good things come to those who wait.

Worth waiting for has been an informal project between the Walsall Flickr group and Walsall Council.

Faced with an empty Tesco supermarket in the centre of town a debate was started on how to fill it.

A chance comment from a Flickr member Lee Jordan made some time ago came to the fore. He is @reelgonekid on Twitter.

Wouldn’t it be great, he said, some time before if shots of Walsall taken and posted to Flickr were displayed in an empty shop window?

Wouldn’t that be better than having an empty shop?

So, that’s just what we did.

Walsall Council’s regeneration town centre team have Jon Burnett working to improvce the town centre. He came up with the funding and picked up the ball. The landlord was agreeable. Jon helps run @walsalltown on Twitter, by the way.

I helped Jon ask the wider Walsall Flickr group if they’d like to take part and were pleasantly surprised at the response. You can see the original conversation thread here.

More than half  a dozen members submitted more than 30 shots and our print and design team who then pulled together a design with some town centre information.

We added a picture credit and a link back to the photographer’s Flickr stream. That was important.

There’s plans to redevelop the site and Primark and The Co-Operative are lined up to move in some months down the track.

When that happens the vinyl images will be taken down. But until then bright, creative people of Walsall have a chance to celebrate their work and their town.

According to a Local Data Company report there are more than 28,000 empty shops. That’s about 14 per cent of all the 202,000 shops in England, Scotland and Wales.

This isn’t an answer to all any town centre’s problems. It’s just a good thing to do to ask local people to display their work and brighten up empty shops.

LINKS

A slide show of the Walsall town centre Flickr window by Stuart Williams can be seen here.

Lee Jordan, whose inital idea it was, took a set of pics including this one.


BRILLIANT: A new Flickr group for local government

It’s quite mad to think that there wasn’t a Flickr group for local government.

Snow ploughs? Yes. There’s two groups. There’s more you can shake a stick at for  libraries and museums but there was nothing for the overall umbrella institution of local government.

So, after a bit of messing about there’s now the Local Government Does Brilliant Things Flickr group.  Feel free to have a nose around and explore it.

What’s there? A whole array. This Japanese election poster with a man and a lapdog is stunning. So is Brian doing the bins. And as for the Korean school dinner… that’s about as far away from the pink custard of my school days as it’s possible to get.

Amazingly, after two weeks there’s now more than 400 images posted to the new group from several dozen Flickr streams. The excellent US blogger, Gov 20 Radio host, Flickr user and advocate for Nation Builder Adriel Hampton has got behind it too with this blog post which is rather great to see.

What is Flickr?

It’s a social photography website that people, clubs and organisations have been using in growing numbers. Or six billion to be exact. That’s the number of images uploaded so far.

You join and upload images and you can post them to an array of different groups with a common theme.

Yes, local government can be a frustrating institution at times and when it’s done badly it can be as horrid as the little girl in the story. But even it’s fiercest critic must admit that local government does some really good things. It’s by celebrating them that we ensure it’ll be around in the future.

Celebrate the routine stuff…

I’m becoming increasingly interested in the routine things that local government does. We’re hopeless at shouting about the day-to-day things that get taken for granted. That’s the play equipment, the park, the roads we drive on  the school bus or 700 other services.

It’s fascinating to look through what’s been posted to the local government Flickr pool so far to see shots of routine tasks being done elsewhere in the world.

Yes, there’s a place for the set piece media ribbon cutting shot. But the routine shots of people just doing everyday things for me are what really stand out. All to often what we think is everyday is actually a really vital service to someone else’s parents.

So, you’re no David Bailey. What can you do?

It would be really fantastic if you could post some too. They really don’t have to be a staggeringly good quality. A camera phone will do.

Just so long as there’s something of local government in them.