Tagged: north street skate park

Fifty four

Rachel called.

The planners had issued a statement a week ahead of time. North Street Skate Park would stay. A new consultation process would begin immediately to determine the validity of two other options to resolve the traffic problems. It didn’t say if these options were those presented by the consultancy but I had my suspicions. It’s one thing for a planning committee to give a group of teenagers some airtime, but quite another thing to be confronted with professional opinion.

Actually, let me rephrase that. It was the combination. The professionals would not have got involved without the Defenders’ determination.

I was excited for Rachel and her friends. Interestingly, Rachel was simply pleased; she had expected to win through. I wondered if that was the steadfast confidence of youth or symptomatic of a real change in the way influence goes around comes around these days.

Myra called.

She proposed we take Rachel out to celebrate her triumph. And Rachel’s boyfriend. “What boyfriend?” I asked.

Fifty one

“@eliappel What do you think of this? #savenorthstreet ow.ly/____”

I followed the link at the end of Rachel’s tweet to the website of an international urban design consultancy, to a page dedicated to a concise analysis of the North Street Skate Park problem, and two schemas that didn’t require the park’s closure.

I read on.

It seems the consultancy had noticed the noise the Defenders were making online and had decided to contribute some time to the debate free of charge. They listed caveats to their contribution (they’d need to undertake a more diligent consultation before committing professionally to either schema) and reserved the right to negotiate appropriate commercial fees for their consultancy if they were invited to input further in an official capacity. Regardless, they still encouraged visitors to ask questions and leave comments.

I thought this was awesome. I bookmarked the website for that day in the not too distant future, I hoped, when Attenzi would need to expand its production facilities, possibly by acquiring the units either side with no small alteration to the park’s layout.

I retweeted of course, appending “<< awesome”.

I wondered if this was an example of #socbiz in action. Or just #socialmedia? I guess it depends on how the consultancy in question is adapting its structure, culture, policies and processes – the journey we’d embarked on – yet no one can determine that from simply looking at a website and tweet stream.

On that point, it seemed to me that the Twitter community frequently considered #socbiz and #socialmedia synonymously. We do not as you know. Language is the output of a complex system of course, so it will be interesting to see how history records the eventual definitions, and I wonder whether Attenzi might influence that outcome.

Twenty nine (i)

I took a call from Rachel during the middle of a misty Tuesday morning. “Aren’t you at school?”

“Sure, on break. Listen. We’ve won a meeting with the planning people at the town hall today at 5pm. We want ‘pillars of the community’ on our side to attend, and our group thinks you’re one. Kinda funny, but guess you are.”

“Planning people…?”

“Dad! Yes, North Street Skate Park, remember?”

“Ah yes. Well that sounds interesting, very well done Rachel, but it’s a bit short notice and…”

Let’s just say I never finished the sentence and I was at the town hall at 5pm. And I’m glad I was. I had never seen such a prepared, coordinated and articulate bunch of teenagers in my life, and by the look on the planners’ faces I don’t believe they had either.

The Defenders, as the group labeled itself, had been allotted 15 minutes to present its case. Rachel’s role was to hold an iPad with a big countdown clock on it and make sure the group kept to time; no mean feat when the presentation included video evidence played out on the biggest of laptops (the room had no audio-visual facilities), various schematics printed on large sheets of paper, excerpts of commentary left on the online petition and associated Facebook page, a roll call of ‘pillars of the community’ in support of the Defenders (my two seconds of fame), statistics describing the number of social media check-ins to the park during the past twelve months, and a topping and tailing of the representation by the elected leader, an overly tall seventeen year-old called Trent or Demon depending on who was addressing him.

A little guy darted around the room taking photos on his smartphone with immediate upload, and another sat typing furiously on a battered laptop, live blogging. I learned later that their request to video proceedings had been declined.

The finale entailed two kids walking up to the planners’ table, buckets in hand, and literally pouring hundreds of photos of people enjoying themselves at the Skate Park onto the table. Trent: “Thanks to North Street Cameras for joining our campaign and for printing these photos free of charge. They’re the best.”

I was astonished. With the photos, they’d even recognized when to drop digital and get analogue for the less net-savvy on the committee. These guys are going to shake up the workforce in a few years.

Fourteen (ii)

I had entertained the thought that she was looking at any screen handy simply to avoid having a ‘deep and meaningful’ with me about our new family circumstances. I dismissed the self-pity however on realizing that this is just the way it is these days, and besides teenage girls have likely never relished a ‘deep and meaningful’ with their father.

On driving Rachel back to Myra’s I could see a sign had been stuck in the rear window of the car – “SAVE NORTH STREET SKATE PARK!” On getting on line that evening, I found I’d been invited to sign the online petition, re-blog, re-tweet, ‘Like’ and +1. There was also a link to a Google Map mashup showing other options for improving the traffic flow at the North Street junction that didn’t require ripping up the skate park, and another to a wiki where the pressure group formulated its plans.

Rachel would not recognize my childhood.