|Bristol's so changed since I last visited, that even my map is out of date. It's clean, easy to walk around and by the station and harbour it is filled with huge spaces that are fun to linger in and easy to reach by bike too. |
Dead ringer for Sydney?
Bristol hopes to copy Edinburgh festival's "must be there" status during its annual June biggreenweek. Running from 9-17 June, Bristol's Big Green Week 2012 boasts comedy, music, film, talks, poetry, art and family events. £8 seems to be the top price tickets and there are plenty of free events too.
"Bristol has a festival every week," explains my friend as we pass a large marquee being put up for the German Beer Festival. We're down at the harbourside - although still a long way from the sea - cycling around after a day at the typeface, and it's a lovely place to be. All that water, space and big venues make you think of the Australian lifestyle. On a warm day with blue skies you definitely could imagine yourself Sydney-side, maybe even Brisbane.
The point of the Big Green Week is that it inspires change. Wherever you are in the green spectrum this is the chance to get buzzed up by Dragons Den's Deborah Meaden, the amazing poet Matt Harvey (he calls himself a Wondermentalist on BBC Radio 4) plus old favourites such as Jonathon Porritt from Forum for the Future, Juliet Davenport from fab Good Energy, Tim Smit from the Eden Project and environmental lawyer Polly Higgins who is determined to sort out the UN.
Cash and conscience
Festivals may seem like a fun place to meet up with friends - but they can inject considerable sums into the economy, never mind spread ideas. The 2012 January Sydney festival is thought to have brought in A$56.8 million (more than £35 million!!!) to the New South Wales economy (13% up on last year).
It can be hard to make money from those greens who lack the super-consumer gene so I shall be looking carefully at how Bristol's Big Green Week balances its books. But if it was a success - not just drawing in lots of people, but getting people to be more inspired from a green perspective and adding a nice flash of cash to the city how impressive would that be? I reckon engineer Brunel (see pix above) who had a very up and down relationship to money, despite his impressively inventive and well-remembered career, would be well proud.