Exe Libris Square

Sunday, 11 August 2013

Exeter Central Library, one of my favourite buildings, is going through a rebuild. As part of that, a scrubby bit of land in front of it is getting renamed as a Square.

Reflected Skies

Given the main public square is named after a bloke from the landed gentry who owned a lot of Exeter, I think this new square should be named after a woman of achievement connected to the city. Ideally one involved in improving literacy or advancing science. Doing that:
a) celebrates libraries as gateways to knowledge
b) celebrates knowledge as something that changes lives
c) highlights to girls and women that learning brings achievement and fame.

So, here are my top three candidates, in no specific order.

  • Rowling Square
    JK Rowling studied at Exeter University, and based Diagon Alley on Gandy Street (right next to the new Square). Whilst I’m not a fan of her writing, she has undoubtedly had an impact on children’s literacy. Her books also celebrate learning and libraries, so it’s a good fit.
  • Coade Square
    Eleanor Coade was a designer and industrial businesswoman in the 18th century. She successfully developed the type of artificial stone that is named after her, and successfully ran a business for 50 years. She was born in Exeter and lived here for her first 30 years.
  • Carpenter Square
    Mary Carpenter was a 19th century social reformer who campaigned for education, literacy and women’s suffrage and against slavery. She was born in Exeter, before moving to Bristol at about 10. Amongst other things, she founded a ragged school for the education of the poor.

Those are my preferred options. However, if we’re looking for any person of achievement who has connections to libraries and knowledge then there is also:

  • Babbage Square
    Charles Babbage is widely regarded as the father of computing. His work with his difference engine in the 19th century paved the way for Turing, Jobs and Berners-Lee. Given libraries are about access to knowledge, and now act as a means for people to access the internet, a connection to computers makes sense. His connection to Exeter is slight, having gone to a school in Alphington.
  • Bodley Square
    Thomas Bodley was an Elizabethan diplomat who founded the Bodleian Library in Oxford. He was born in Exeter.

This list came about in part from discussions on twitter, and how often I found myself citing these names as an alternative to Prince George Square.

Does the naming of a public space matter? Yes, undoubtedly. The name tells us what we value as a society. So we should pick a name that is aspirational and about the power of learning to transform lives. A name that shows what learning can achieve.

Have I missed anyone off the list?

Exeter Twestival – going chirp!

Thursday, 18 March 2010

I’ve not actually been quiet lately – I’ve been blogging over on the Exeter Twestival blog instead. The Twestival team started to form after the LikeMinds event in late February and, three weeks later, we’ve a music night on at one of the main live music venues in town – Mama Stone’s – with five bands and a top comedian hosting it.

That’s five acts for a fiver. A lovely bargain, and 100% of the money raised goes to Concern Worldwide‘s educational programme. So as well as being a good night out, it’s a good cause too. If you’re in Exeter, come along!

Right, I need to get back at it – I’ve a press release to write tonight…

The Wild Wild Wood

Sunday, 18 January 2009

Over the break, I was writing a story set in a West Country winter. One image I had in my head was of wild, bare trees tangling together, and I kept thinking I ought to go up to the ridgeway by my house to get some good photos. The story is done and in with an editor, and finally, yesterday, I walked up to the ridge.

It’s why I love living where I do. I’m in an urban area, all takeaways and Saturday night fights. But I can walk for ten minutes and be on the cusp of the countryside: the city sits in the Exe valley to the east, but to the west is farmland and high hills. The Exeter Green Circle is like this a lot of the way. This was up by Barley Valley Nature Reserve, about an hour before the winds started to pick up. And it’s just the sort of image I was trying to describe.

Freak weather

Sunday, 2 November 2008

The day before what the Met Office officially described as “freak weather” over Ottery St Mary, I looked out of my office window to see this cloud drifting in from the east.
Freaky Weather
I don’t think I’ve ever seen a square cloud before…and, yes, Ottery is to the east of Exeter.

Exeter Going Pop!

Saturday, 6 September 2008

Exeter Goes Pop! again at Tigga’s this coming Thursday night (11 Sept) and every second Thursday of the month until Christmas. It’s free, the bar is good value, the ExPoppers get to play music without the venue manager telling them to turn it down, and there’s now a dancefloor. The first night at Tigga’s was good, but I forgot to take any photos.

If you’re thinking “but what is ‘wonk folk’?” then you can take a listen to the sort of music Alistair plays tomorrow on phonic fm (106.8FM in the city, or streaming online) from 4pm till 6pm. Or you can take a listen to the mixtapes he posts to unpopular. I’m not sure what ‘wonk folk’ is either, BTW.

ETA: you can listen again to Sunday’s This is Pop! broadcast here.

(Terry, who has been DJing the excellent Collisions at Timepiece forEVAH, also does a slot on phonic.fm)

What? Now?

Monday, 11 August 2008

Being sneaky, I check my gmail at work during my lunchbreak. It’s OK, we’re allowed. Sorta. So I know that, as well as email discussions about girlies’ night(s) out (did I mention ExPop! starts at a new venue – Tigga’s – on Thursday 14 August? It’s free and fun, and there will be badges*), there are emails about the Vampire Curse which I need to answer sooner rather than later.

Naturally, gmail has chosen this moment to return a server error. Argh.

*facebook group (slightly out of date).

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