BetterBearwood with @maryportas and the crafty muthas

The muthas have been involved, to varying degrees, with Bearwood’s bid to become a (Mary) Portas Pilot. Towns and high streets all over the country have been putting bids together in the hope of securing government funding and support from the ‘Queen of Shops’. You can find out more about the whole Portas Pilot thing here.

In March, we got the consultation ball rolling by giving out shoppers surveys at Bearwood Handmade. Jayne, spoke to lots of people about why they do or don’t shop locally and what they like or dislike about the High Street. We also allowed the cameras in to film the fair – something that led to a little late night fussing regarding outfits and make-up amongst the muthas. One of the bid team filmed stall holders setting up before doors opened, and then, when Central TV arrived, she filmed them filming us. I was ‘persuaded’ to talk about the whole pop-up shop idea. If you really want to see me waffling about having a life and no time to sell my makes then follow this link!

Erin and myself went along to (some rather long and difficult) meetings to discuss the bid and I helped to co-ordinate surveying some of our 300+ traders. The crafty mutha coffers helped pay for photocopying surveys too. Then, on a sunny Saturday at the end of March, my family, Ceri’s husband, Loz, and Nat’s husband, Rich, and their kids, along with a big crowd of locals, marched down the high street, drumming and chanting “make a, make a, make a better Bearwood”. Me with a faulty megaphone and a very long script. The kids and Loz with drums and various other instruments. All of it caught on camera, to be used to help make a YouTube video. Finally, once the research was completed and our goals decided upon, Ceri used her skills to help edit the application.

Bearwood’s bid went in last Friday. You can watch the accompanying YouTube video here. It features a few muthas and quite a few stall holders and shoppers from Bearwood Handmade. We need people to ‘like’ the video and also ‘like’ our Facebook page. I’m not sure if all this ‘liking’ makes a difference to anything but it won’t cost you a penny and you’ll be able to keep up with our progress. The 12 ‘winners’ will be announced sometime in May.

Many people tell us at the handmade fairs or our monthly Tapestry socials that the crafty muthas have already helped make Bearwood a nicer place to live. We really hope so. I know that my life is richer for being around my creative, funny, passionate friends and I know that the events we put on allow many in our community to come together in a really positive way. I’m pretty sure that whether the Portas bid is successful or not, we’ll continue to share the crafty love with Bearwood – we have quite a few plans up our crafty little sleeves and of course, you’ll read about them here first.