What is the 4 am project?
I first heard of the 4 am project over a year ago. I had started following @karenstrunks on twitter via people I had met at Social Media Surgeries. Karen had been driving home one night at 4 am and it had struck her how different the world looks at that time. The idea for the project was born.
Made in Birmingham
This is now a global project but it all started here in Birmingham in 2008. Social media has enabled us to play a part in building a global picture of the world at 4am.
I met with Karen at one of the monthly Social Media Cafes she organises in Birmingham. I have been on a bit of a mission to actually meet people I met first through twitter and she was on the list. Her blogs are brilliant and she is a real enabler in so many ways. The next 4 am project was coming up and she persuaded me to join in.
When I attended Planning Camp I learnt a lot about street furniture. So it seems has Winchester.
The decline of the high street
This was the theme of my first contribution to the 4 am project. I had got involved with the Portas Pilot bid for Bearwood and I had started noticing the empty shops more and also the general neglect of what is essentially community space. I wrote a bit about it on my blog Post Travelling Blues. I called it litter and light.
Litter and Light
We chose a different location for the 4am project this time and we knew it would be interesting to see the contrast between Bearwood in Sandwell and Winchester in Hampshire. There were some common themes, again in litter and light.
It was shocking to see how many empty shops in Bearwood had lights left on all night. The wast is shameful. Yet in Winchester we found that so many of the Building Societies and shops also left not the odd one of two lights on but loads of them blazing away. From a security point of view there may be valid reasons to do this, yet the waste of power appalls me.
Things really look different at 4am
They really do. Looking at the photographs today a few things struck me. I had walked past this shop in daylight (well gloomy rain filled light ) earlier and never noticed this display. Now all I can see is legs and handbags.
Or this one.
The once busy pubs were all shut up and chairs on top of tables.
Yet here there was a whole team of staff laying tables at 4am.
Who would have seen this in the daylight?
And what a gloomy, dirty and neglected bus station for such a beautiful city.
Yet again, I was glad I was not waiting for a bus…..