Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together

Easton in Bristol

Easton in BristolWe are in a Recession. Friends and Neighbours are staring into an abyss. Others, through luck and Privilege, are pressing on with their agendas.

The Baggator Nexus has tried to find a way through using the loan gift from a neighbour; incredibly dedicated Volunteers, and the skills of the Nexus members. Sometimes we felt like the witches from Macbeth stirring the Ideas Pool as it hubbled and bubbled.

Out of the Ideas Pool, came a plan. It relied on making everything support everything else. It relied on selfless dedication and trust. Everyone is short of time, and can only give a little. Nexus Members needed to focus on what they did best and reach out beyond the Nexus, not just for themselves but also for our Friends and Neighbours in BS5.

Feeding BS5

The Nexus relies on two dedicated Teams – Super Supper Club, and Barton Hill Sunday Kitchen, to turn the food donated by Pak Butchers, Bristol Sweet Mart, the big supermarkets, and a few hands going in pockets, to feed 600 every week. Things fall apart – cookers can wear out, and thanks to Burgess Salmon, Baggator will soon have a new one. Hint: we need a new industrial cooker at Barton Hill, so anyone with a spare…

Fuel Poverty

Throughout the Nexus, the staff team at St Philip’s Marsh Nursery School, and the Citizen Planners living on Newtown, not to mention our volunteers, Fuel Poverty kept raising its ugly head.

Think you know what fuel poverty is? Think back to Friday morning. Imagine getting the kids up, washed and fed, debating ” heating v kettle v got water – forget cooking” why? Because there’s no money to top up the meter, and no credit left on the phone to cry for help. “Homeschooling! Home Heating would be nice!” The £3,600 Baggator has from the Emergency Covid Winter Fund arrives on Friday. Maybe you’ll be lucky; chances are you won’t be. That fund will have all gone by Monday, Tuesday at the latest.

Young Citizens

Did I say, two teams? There’s more. Atamai Tutor Centre are working with DigiLocal, schools, and colleges, to expand their incredibly successful Saturday sessions. Reach out to Young Citizens whose needs are more than most; Reach out to Young Citizens whose futures are bleak because they can only cling to the cyber-world – hold STEM in your mind for a moment.

Young Citizens with more needs than most. Our building can be a secure, private place. Atamai’s Tutors can reach out, and every hour they do gives immeasurable help to the Young Citizen and the family, the parents.

Thought for the future – (because every plan must have an unfinished future) – secure space + Young Citizens with additional needs + Parents and Volunteers = weekend club maybe?

Clean Air

STEM Ambassadors and UWE are setting something up with BMCS and Baggator to use data on Air Pollution and Traffic from Saaf Hava (who? See below) to bridge the gap, the digital gap. Out of this, a few Young Citizens may learn to swim in cyber-space showing the rest of us how to understand our data about our world.

When it comes to understanding our data about our air, our streets, we need to see it and read it in the time it takes to walk past a shop window. That’s how long it takes to ‘read’ the weather regardless of language. Enter Lisa [our Social Media Manager] who’s already thinking about displaying Air Quality (and Traffic – shush she doesn’t know this yet) on a Screen in a shop window. Yes, Bristol Sweet Mart, we’ve got designs on your Community Kiosk display.  😉

So Saaf Hava’s data become the ingredients for a Coding Club that creates feeds for experiments in displays on St Marks Road.

Saaf Hava? It means Clean Air. It means Citizen Sensing across Easton. Twenty sites will measure Air Pollution, Temperature, Humidity; with room for expansion. Already we’re adding Telraam traffic counters by integrating UWEs WE COUNT programme into Saaf Hava via the STEM Ambassadors. Those 20 sites over 1.6 square kilometres will be the most comprehensive Citizen Sensing network in the UK? When we add in generation 3, and 4 of the data set expansion if not now. Holograms telling you about all sorts of things from your world, in any language, anybody? Maybe see them first on St Marks Road (something we need to talk to the Community Group about)

Saaf Hava? Is a joint initiative between RADE and the Council of Bristol Mosques. Saaf Hava is a megaphone for unheard BAME and Working-Class voices in debates about the environment. Saaf Hava dreams that no one will try and discuss the environment, or transport without starting with the people who work it, live it and feed their families.

Street Art

Peace of Art, who started by asking if they could ‘have a go’ on Baggator’s Graffiti wall, are about to begin their second commission on the pillars opposite the Stapleton Road entrance to the Station. They’ve been asking locals what we want through puzzles, quizzes and questions. Here’s wishing them fine weather.


Meanwhile, the Bike Club and Cycling Sisters are busy planning their next expansions. Both use the same shipping container at Baggator to store their bikes and bits. Rumour has it that it’s a recycled Tardis because it never ceases to amaze how much gets put in by both groups (and they never seem to argue). Some of the other Nexus Volunteers also use the Bike facilities – admittedly sessions will spill out to take over the whole ground floor of the Pickle Factory (what the buildings called).

Did I mention Cycling Sisters plan to run a creche with their sessions, or that the Bike Club will use the main room for bike repair training? (Bagga-bike will be back – you fix it, you keep it).

The bike projects are hampered by Covid-19, but that doesn’t stop the planning. When all is said and done we’re not as fit as we should be.


Talking of fitness, thanks to Sported, we’re about to launch two Women Only sessions, Dance and Keep-Fit. Initially, online, as usual, the Instructor and the users, work out precisely what works for them and how they do it. Tana will run the workshops to grow minds and bodies. But don’t think this is a standalone service – it is the Nexus after all. Not only is Tana building her business with our friends at the Prince’s Trust, but she’s also going to explore ways we can use our recording studio to create lessons, sessions, or whatever makes sense to the Citizen Women she works with.


Probably the right place to bring back Lisa. She’s mentoring our new Media Coordinator, Fatima, who should be called ‘Chief Cat Herder’ because she is going to reorganise our Social Media, starting with Young Citizens and Tana’s project, and set a pattern (a brand) for all of the Nexus media in the end. Won’t be long Fatima before you are wondering the Pickle Factory’s digital corridors with Lisa muttering ‘Content, just give me some Content’. Fatima’s work will link up with the rebranding input from Annemie (our Ethical Angel from Sony in the Netherlands). Like I said, “Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together.”

Rebranding goes hand in hand with the changes to Baggator’s objectives. Adding work with families and the community to youth work fulfils the manifesto “Everyone deserves an Equal Voice in their future” which is all about capacity building, skill transfer, and growth by innovation, not acquisition. Parts of the Nexus, independent groups called ‘Connectors’ can use other Connectors when it makes sense, and not when it doesn’t. Coupled with maintaining ownership of an idea, but building it up with input from other Nexus Connectors, the Ideas Pool has been the key to getting all of this plan off the ground during Covid-19.

Going forward, we will need to make decisions rapidly and fairly. Thanks to Digital Candle, we are trialling a voting app, which will eventually become available to Friends and Neighbours to make decisions about their world.

Going forward, we will need to make decisions about what we want from our world as a community.

Local Planning

Through Neighbourhood Planning Groups like Plan-EL and Marsh Maker, and supported by ELH Citizens University, Community Planning has brought six Masters Programme Design Teams from UWE into East Bristol over the past few months. Community Clients have enhanced each Design Team. The Community Clients ranged from two people pulling together past and present (St Philip’s Marsh); to a Stakeholder Panel from the Community, Organisations, Faith Groups, Businesses, and Statutory Agencies (St Marks Road).

Other Design Teams have looked at

  • Newtown, building on last year’s project to refurbish the play area (Newtown 1), to consider the open spaces, courtyards, and fencing (Newtown 2). The Nexus will use Project Management of Newtown 1 to transfer skills to the estates’ Community Planning Team
  • Barton Hill, using a simple intervention (communal gardening) to kick start capacity building. Then painting a picture of phased regeneration that ties into new Social Housing on St Philip’s Marsh. Marky of Redcliffe Residents Action Group provided the Horticultural input.
  • Craft Quater (between Barton Hill, Newtown, St Philp’s Marsh). Community Client included Cllr Afzal Shah (Cabinet Member for Climate, Ecology and Sustainable Growth). Integration of business and community sustainability in the inner city. Link the Craft Quater to St Philip’s Marsh via the new University Campus – the ‘Craft Trail’. The Old Market Neighbourhood Plan include a connectivity theme, and this is the subject of joint discussions soon.
  • Riverside Park. Often overlooked, or hurried through as it is not very welcoming (especially after dark), work with the Community Clients created a short, medium, and long term plan to make this surprisingly large area a much more useful asset to local Citizens.

Meanwhile, Covid-19 has slowed progress on the two potential Neighbourhood Forums, Marsh Maker, and Easton Energiser. On the other hand, all of these Community Planning Initiatives can draw on by the freely available Saaf Hava data [all of which is open source]

BS5-2 Alive is the next phase of this Community Planning work. At the end of the month, two sets of events will

  • Present the six Design Team reports side by side drawing out linking elements – Thursday 25th February
  • Consider the elements to be carried forward in the Community Planning Groups via an event appropriate to their approach and objectives. The St Philip’s Marsh event will probably be a presentation and discussion. Riverside Park could be a small group discussion. – Saturday 27th February.

Cross-cutting themes could emerge like sustainable energy that gives birth to a synthesis of the Councils Parks Strategy and using Netham Park/Feder Canal as an energy hub based on ground and water source heat sinks/pumps.

All of which is a long way from needing to feed 600+ Friends and Neighbours every week. We are surrounded by the terror of a growing recession; some using privilege to force their views on the majority, yet so many want to reach out and work with their Friends and Neighbours. The Baggator Nexus benefits from all the different lives within and around it. From this comes a plan, and it all ties together thanks to all the people who dipped into the Ideas Pool (often without realising).

Like the man said

“Don’t you just love it when a plan comes together”

 Stuart Phelps



Baggator Nexus is a collection of and people dedicated to Citizen Empowerment. Everyone deserves an Equal Voice in their future.