The brexit debacle has so far proved to be a substantial distraction from much else going on this week. However work toward the first of many MAZI reports to satisfy conditions for EU support, has been completed on time. MarknGarethOUOur academic partners at the Open University now have an additional part time researcher (Gareth) in post to help prepare the ground work for the next phase of neighborhood engagement which SPC are for preparing now. Here is Mark pointing out the Minesweeper floatilla on the creek.

We haven’t had many visitors to the recent Brookmill Park Monday meetups, though great progress has been made with those attending to clean and prepare the space for Redstart Arts who take up residence later this summer. weatherscape2Their current exhibition at the Deptford Lounge is result of 8 months work with learning disability artists and called ‘weatherSCAPE’ and has been installed in the 4 story atrium space there, very impressive!

Much of the conversation so far, has been concerned with how to improve on use of the park and encourage a wider appreciation and support for the events and activities organised by the ‘friends’ group.brookmilpicnic Last weekend YT joined the Picnic and met with near neighbors as well as some more familiar faces. There was great interest in the MAZI activation initiative in the park keepers building and many questions on what and how might be possible. We sat in dappled light beneath a giant London plain tree with it’s bat and bird boxes, adjacent to the large pond with resident Heron and frolicking water birds, to share stories, savories and cakes!

CETlowpointLater this month we will meet again with MAZI partners Common Ground in Berlin to review progress of the new Prinzessinnengarten building  and enjoy the bloom of midsummer. Here in Deptford there is no shortage of building work underway as seen here in this site view adjacent to CET. Directly opposite, preparations for the Tideway tunnel excavation are also advancing quickly.

DLRovercreekintensive building work in progress on both sides of the creek reach are reaching crisis point as project increasingly coincide and collide. Any plans for environment monitoring, neighborhood awareness and suitable responses may  be overlooked if we don’t make some rapid progress before long.

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YT visited Mobile City Garden early in June to attend EcoDA collaborative workshops  held as part of Co-designing resilience project. Hackney wick based Public Works Group hosted the group of locals, garden volunteers and representatives from Mobilecitygarden02other projects partners to consider ‘urban resilience’ within the context of the Mobile Garden City and how it relates to their current interests and garden activities.


We sat together in an open top shipping container (chilly) and each took turns responding to questions and offered insights of our own. The focus was very much on the needs and activities of the garden but also allowed for consideration of related activities of attendees. One thread of discussion investigated how to add public information systems offering wireless access that direct traffic to inform on general garden updates and biogas status. This was followed with some tasty home grown soup, bread and cake before we retreated from the rain!

Dr Davide Poggio is involved in the biogas processing prototype on the site which has a link with biogas pilot ISABEL in Humberside. A dedicated container on site holds the methane processing unit with gas reservoir in construction adjacent. Mobilecitygarden-NoelSolar panels provide the electrical energy required to activate the pumps and sustain good conditions for gas production.

Local volunteer to the garden project Noel was my very knowledgeable and helpful guide, pointing out with the aid of this site plan where the various elements of the project linked together. There is a large garden nursery area where a wide range of vegetables are grown for use in food production at the on site cafe. I also spotted a clay pizza oven and bicycle workshop..

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Babbling book

IMG_20151004_163719As part of ongoing research into the Deptford Mazi zone, we have begun conversations with Friends of Brookmill Park and hope to hold meet-ups there in coming months. Their slice of green starts as Brookmill Park by Elverson Road and ends as Broadway Fields by Deptford Bridge with the DLR running alongside.

TbrookmillparkfromSLhe friends group was activated in 2015 to liaise with Glendale services management and co-ordinate communicate park activities, eg. nature watch and clean-ups of the Ravensbourne river that runs through the park and into the creek. During a recent low tide walk with Creekside Education Trust we heard how old trolleys and carpets provide ideal micro environments to shelter young fish down stream! IMG_20151004_163614So, how much cleaning should be done?

The park is a mixture of natural and gardened areas, pathways and trees all need maintenance. There is a genuine sense of ‘getting things done’ as the group work with the park visitors and keepers, new bins on the way apparently and funding is available to refurbish the play area. BrookmillLodgeRegular bat walks and dawn chorus sessions are proving very popular and bird boxes have been installed recently. Redstart Arts soon begin workshops at the park keepers lodge and there is also picnic planned for the Saturday 25th June, please bring chairs, marquees and facepaint.

The Steven Lawrence Trust building is situated between Brookmill Park and Broadway Fields. It was built in 2008 on the site of a Thames Water pumping works which restricted the footprint of the new building of two sections with a 1st floor linking bridge between. SL-deptfordbridgeDuring our visit, Larwood showed us around the internal spaces and talked about it’s regular users and tenants. slcfoyerThere are several well serviced areas for meetings, workshops and social events overlooking the creek.

The trust faces considerable challenges to cover operational overheads and development of a public program. As a consequence, several small companies currently rent the work spaces available throughout the building. We heard about ‘IT-house‘ who offer technical support for the trust and a game design and software development company Playback Interactive. Radio project Mi-Soul occupy the annex building connected by elevated walkway.

broadwayfieldsThe river passes alongside in a narrow channel here, which is bridged with two unused concrete walkways. The tangle of manufactured and organic rubbish found downstream is not washed in by tide, or the result of local dumping but gets dragged along by river surges carrying fish, fauna and shopping trolleys from Lewisham and beyond. A small footbridge leads over to the basketball courts and open space of Broadway fields, where kids can skate and play together. More images here

The area is subject to more than one Section 106 or Community Infrastructure Levy*. These legal agreements between local authorities and developers, link planning permissions to planning obligations for environmental development and social improvements. For example, a new residential development can place extra pressure on the social, physical and economic infrastructure which already exists in a certain area. A planning obligation will aim to balance the pressure created by the new development with improvements to the surrounding area ensuring that where possible the development would make a positive contribution to the local area and community. BroolmillPicnicThere are many such agreements in place in Greenwich and Lewisham as a result of planning permissions and building projects along the creek, but perhaps more could be done locally to track and evaluate.

See you at the picnic!

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Party ark

pitpnxd logoYT often cycles through Fordham Park in New Cross, on the way to and from the organisers meetings at NXL learning for this years Party in the Park.

This years festival will be held on Saturday 3rd September from noon till 9pm. Your contribution and support is needed now, please see the web crowd funding appeal !

It will take a several days to build the temporary infrastructure needed to host the many performance stages and community stalls, provide sanitation, signage and arrange for electricity, water and refuse services. Once the festival is over the park must be returned to it’s tidy self. So there is a call for volunteers, to help prepare the park, guide and support on the day, then clear up after, which we hope you will be able to help with.

Several of those who were actively involved in the successful 2013 and 2014 event, formed a constituted group this year, to organise the festival again and build continuity for future events. Many local organisations and social groups will collaborate to stage music, performance and entertain kids! Expect a wide range of stalls offering food, clothes and books, toys and treasures. They will also present information about neighborhood activities, through a series of installations around the park, with special attention focused on housing.

Deptford urban free festivals were held on Fordham Park from 1989 at a very small scale for local people until 1995, eventually attracting people from all over London in such numbers that further events were not permitted*. The park was extensively refurbished in 2010 following the reactivation of Moonshot centre and Deptford Green secondary school which has been rebuilt adjacent to the park, rounding off a grand transformation in appearance and improving usability for all.

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Energising Interest

Web_SELCElogoThe Ashmead junior school in our road at home, has recently had solar panels installed on it’s roof space by SELCE.  Cooperative entrepreneurs formed ‘South East London Community Energy’ in 2015 to ensure the mutual benefits of renewable energy and reduced operational costs for local schools, whilst offering realistic proposal for anyone interested, even with minimal funds to invest.

Best-roof-shot-by-Selim-Korycki-768x512A successful campaign to raise the initial £250k by end of 2015, made it possible for the first four installations to have been activated already. Despite reduction in the feed-in tariff for those collecting more than they use, SELCE was able to ‘pre-accredit’ a further four local community buildings before the rate cut. A second shares issue to underwrite those costs is due to start shortly and will still be able to offer investors annual interest of around 4%.

GCDA support cooperative development in the Greenwich area. They offer project development and training for catering and health initiatives, host MIG kitchens and operate WCCC community centre in Woolwich! GCDA also support community empowerment projects locally and SELCE are currently based in their incubator office.

msclusterThough our initial work with Minesweeper Collective as part of Mazi project pilot in Deptford Creek, we have talked a lot about how improvements to energy infrastructure could have a huge impact on quality of life and sustainability for those living on boats or otherwise off-grid. Wind turbines and solar collectors have long been used in these situations where fixed land connections for mains power are scarce. Harvested energy is stored in large batteries which need monitoring and management then safe, low loss re-distribution.

Boattr project illustrates some of these issues with DIY solutions to regulate energy and integrate with on board computers and sensors. Various initiatives are underway to bring these issues together and offer complimentary tool for those setting up autonomous energy systems.

Recent pressure on housing in London has put fresh pressure on city waterways to supply power, process rubbish and curb water contamination resulting from increased numbers of river users. Canals across the UK are very active for the first time in generations yet infrastructure facilities remain limited. More could be done to share the wealth of information available between these isolated communities so MAZI will focus on some of these issues to further research and promote solutions locally.

Thames Tideway is a huge infrastructure project in progress along the length of the Thames to relieve sewerage load on several key vulnerable locations not least at the Greenwich Sewerage works adjacent to the creek. Their progress west to east will effect many users of the Thames and it’s tributaries. Understanding this, they have embarked on a charm offensive which has already visited the creek on several occasions to press for acknowledgement and make its case for worthwhile disruption. During the meeting with Friends of Deptford Creek discussion focussed on practical use of 500GT barges in the creek, the effects of dredging on the structure of the river ecology and swell effect of moving large boats on the smaller vessels moored there, not least the minesweeper cluster.


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Vexed, hashed and ported

tmp_9818-IMG_20160502_162516-595039255Battlemesh 09 was the latest in a series of intensive exchanges organised and attended by the prime of mesh firmware developers, hardware hackers and community activists – An international movement of open wireless network innovation with it’s root in the earliest moments of net culture.

tmp_9818-IMG_20160502_11302721601660More than 80 contributors from Korea, Colombia, India, Argentina and across Europe gathered at the Faculty of Engineering in the University of Porto (Portugal) for a week in the deep code of OLSR, Babel, B.A.T.M.A.N, BMX and Batman-ADV, each contenders for eternal glory!

All use the OpenWRT operating system first issued at the outbreak of contemporary mesh networking in 2004, when discovery of GPL code in the very affordable Linksys WRT54G router triggered release of it’s proprietary sources for open re-engineering.

battleovermassiveEach afternoon lightning talks and presentations were held in a space between the busy workgroups. We listened to memorable accounts from international groups and community actions, a film première of Sarataporo documentary (Greece) and reviewed GNUnet and netJason projects two of many others listed in the packed event schedule. Our hosts even arranged us a cruise on the Douru River with spectacular views, bridges and fresh air!

bridgemeshWork progressed on setup of the Battlemesh ‘Wibed’ testbed, itself an ambitious and complex set of configurations, to allow for easy switching between competing firmware to enable monitoring of the 30 or so wireless routers now dotted about the university. Inevitable bugs obstructed completion but we start to see results at the eleventh hour, hoorah!

Key members of the OpenWRT developers group gathered to announce it’s community reboot as new project LEDE which resolves to shake off legacy constrictions in the operational structure of the old system. There was widespread delight mixed with a sense of some trepidation this news should schism the project. battleovertripOverall it seems, this is an overdue shift toward a more flexible approach to future development of firmware for embedded devices, so good luck with that!

battlegoesonOvershadowing the event for all this year is the news that FCC have followed steps taken at EU to legislate a lockdown of firmware on equipment (RED) featuring 5ghz wireless devices, so that critical weather and aviation radar systems cannot be compromised by non standard radio uses. New hardware will not permit firmware modification and improvements by community in the future will no longer be possible! It’s hard to follow the exact conditions that have lead to this unfortunate situation, certainly manufactures have taken flight and entirely re factored their products to adhere to the rules as they understand them, in fear of heavy fines should they fail.

Suspicions were voiced, that telecom interests have influenced authorities to revise controls allowing them capture pubic access spectrum for more exclusive commercial uses. Here is the joint statement from the wireless network community, more needs to be done to highlight the situation.

fingerpalaceOn  route out of Porto, YT met a group taking the ‘Worst Tour‘, visiting the islands of workers housing and gardens between the 6 fingers of city blocks spanning out from the centre. worsttourguideConcerns for neighbourhood networks prevail as the hollowing out of city and its communities continues.

These fresh insights and final adventures capped a week of many memorable contrasts some images of which can be seen here

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Mudlarking On

mazimudlarks01Before heading off to this years Battlemesh in Porto, Portugal, YT got together with 20 Deptford locals, Inurian activists and Mazi partners for a low tide walk on Deptford Creek. Our guide for the walk was botanist Nick Bertrand of the Creekside Education Trust, leading river ecology and environmental experts.

We had a splendid experience of the creek and learned a lot about how our impact on the environment, even one already so compromised and contaminated by waste and decades of abuse can have unexpected outcomes on ecology of plants and animals. mazimudlarks03When 400 shopping trolleys were removed in 1990’s it caused a collapse of fish populations! So now things a mostly left as they are.

Hundreds of school and public groups a year visit the creek and gain a unique experience and insight into the workings of Thames tributaries and an understanding of this most urban of British coastline, it’s place in history and current state of play.

southerncreekendFresh water from the River Ravensbourne washes into Deptford Creek having soaked up Spring Brook, Pool and Quaggy rivers on its wander from Bromley. Daily tides swell the Thames 7 or 8 meters, yet the creek remains mostly fresh water with very little saline effect to deter plant and animal propagation. The sea wall containment of all these rivers has restricted the opportunities for nature to gain a firm footing, yet many wild flowers and water creatures thrive in the stew of manufactured and organic rubbish the river drags along. We saw leaches, shrimp and crabs and should expect flounder and eels in abundance later in the season. Decaying timber ‘bumpers’ along the length of the creek serve alongside purpose built terraces as home to small fish and plant life, nurturing success of species variety.

mazimudlarks2Many human lives also rely on the ebb and flow of the river not least the boating community here, many of which we continue to talk to and engage with, as our MAZI pilot develops. Minesweeper Collective operate an art lab aboard the wooden triple hull 2nd world war minesweeper in the creek. A screen printing workshop and image creation lab occupy the below deck areas whilst on deck the space suits symposium and performance both of which are well used by local and visiting artists. The collective seeks energy autonomy and uses 12v throughout, currently relying on large batteries, charged by diesel generator but intent on harvesting solar and wind before long. Slow repairs to the boat following a fire in 2008 are in progress but a crowd funding campaign and or public funding is needed to complete the majors works still required.

Minesweeper logoYesterday, Greenwich Maritime Museum hosted a public consultation for those interested in artist and community collaboration projects seeking funding. The presentations from GAVS, ACE and Royal Borough of Greenwich, each explained how funding and support was available to nurture project development of public arts. Greenwich operate a Community Arts Fund which would particularly suit existing minesweeper project work and may offer a pathway to greater development funding in the future. In particular with a view to participating at the tall ships event in 2017 where a season of community arts and creative interaction events a planned to celebrate the return of the Tall Ships regatta to Greenwich . The theme for this year’ is ‘Voyaging, Discovery and Adventure’ perfect.

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Meanwhile Zone

We have begun hosting Mazi Mondays meet-ups aboard the WWII Minesweeper boat on Deptford Creek where local people can come along to meet with members of the Minesweeper Collective as they collect ideas and prepare resources to extend the Mazi Zone into their space. Join us there from 1-5pm each week – entrance on Norman Road..

minesweeperantennaviewBoats now clustered at this mooring point already share energy and information resources but seek to extend their range with a set of low powered sensors to collect and publish environmental data, sound recordings and a visual record of their day to day existence in and about Deptford Creek. [images]

undercurrentsdollsetThe Minesweeper Collective lead on refurbishment of the boat and operate the creative program on the boat with regular screen printing workshops as well as monthly Undercurrents exhibition in the nearby Birdsnest public house. This month they present ‘a doll a day’ collection of tattooed and undressed fabric doll sculptures.

karenbarnesboxcamerabirdsnestcrewforkarenDon’t miss images by Artist and musician Karen Barnes, seen here with legs out of her portable pinhole camera, preparing to capture Saturday drinkers gathered outside on Deptford Church Street. Something like this! (will swap out once we have a copy)

Refurbishment of OWN infrastructure continues with update of the antenna installation at APT on Creekside, linking back to Minesweeper and within easy range of Birdsnest.

PANO_20160316_115216This view from APT roof of this spring 2016 shows the remnants of Faircharm Estate, all part of the rapid changes sweeping Deptford and so much of South East London.

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Swept overboard

wp-1454401204898.jpgYesterday a few of us from the Wireless Wednesday workshop visited the Minesweeper on Deptford Creek to meet with collective members and take a few photographs in advance of their fundraiser this weekend and Mazi workshops on the boat in Spring. This coincided with a visit from three representatives of Thames Tideway to meet up with concerned residents of boats moored in the area, all seeking more information. There was a tentative yet friendly exchange and a good deal of information about the timetable and nature of work surfaced as a result.

Thames Tideway is a private company working with Thames Water to build the London super sewer network. Tideway is owned by a consortium of investors that comprises Allianz, Amber Infrastructure, Dalmore Capital and DIF. The construction site in the east end will be delivered by a joint venture of Costain Ltd., Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche. This contract is known as Tideway East, with work taking place from Bermondsey to Stratford. Here is a short film showing each of the construction sites


sea wall and iron bridge

Groundwork for the main shaft at Greenwich Pumping station opposite Creekside Education Centre has already begun. The plan is to dig an 18m diameter shaft down to a depth of 65m for the tunnel. The ha’penny hatch pathway on the Greenwich side to Norman Road will be rerouted and then possibly closed during the work, despite appearances at the moment. Mined materials will be pumped across or under the existing pathway and railway line, into the Jewsons site for processing.

Material from related shafts and tunneling construction between here and Chambers Wharf, will also be extracted here to be loaded onto 100 trucks a day or more likely, river barges for removal. By August 2016, the sea wall at Jewsons requires reinforcement to enable installation of a mooring cradle, to support the 500 GT barges, leaving little space for existing moorings!

tidewaySometime before early 2017 a channel 0.5m (from lowest riverbed level) and 8m wide will be dredged at low tide to enable large barges access at high tide. Such huge earthworks could well destabilise the riverbed for any boats normally in contact with it most of the time. Once the dredged channel is ready, the ‘cradle’ is in place and processing plant for the mined materials is operational, then there will be at least two barges per day for further five years!

So, “are you all ready?”

A ‘Greenwich Pumping Station Community Liaison Working Group’ meeting was held in September 2015 at Creekside Education Trust but unfortunately no public were invited nor attended due to communication error! Further meetings are being planned so all are advised to attend and find out more about the scale and duration of the plans already underway. In the meantime neighborhood bloggers are busy tracking the situation, improving awareness of the complexity and compromise at the scale of such intensive civil engineering. Perhaps this is a good moment to invoke DNA the recently acknowledged Deptford Neighborhood Action group!

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Olympia aspirated


YT just returned from a round trip around Greece for MAZI-kickoff meetings. Starting out in Thessaloníki for a couple of days to acclimatise and explore the city on foot, caught the bus with Mark Gaved (Open University) south to Volos.PANO_20160112_144507x1000

On the eve of the sessions we joined the other consortium partners for first of many lovely feasts in the re-animated service quarter adjacent the port and marina, where we all enjoyed first principals of Volos catering; drink tsipouro and eventually great food arrives at the table, keep drinking and the selection and frequency increases! IMG_20160115_225327Great social exchange and a wealth of information and insight on these new relationships was gathered and a sense of fun and inquisitiveness established.

Our meetings at University of Thessaloníki set out to unpack the many layered project package of the successful bid to EU. Ahead are three years research, application and monitoring of MAZI toolkit development, which begin in earnest now. PANO_20160114_094342Their Nitos lab offers a grand facility for prototyping and testing a wide range of sensor components, wireless options and engineering of suitable interfaces we will need for the successful establishment of the MAZI toolkit at the pilot sites in Berlin, Deptford, Zurich and in the wild from Athens to Edinburgh.

volos-tripPartners introduced their respective organisations, listened to each others proposals and considered the scope of collaboration together. We examined how to begin the processes of examination and annotation to best serve the needs of wider public communication and consultation with one another throughout the project. This intensive and somewhat testing experience, articulated some gaps in our assumptions and reinforced the sense of confidence and enthusiasm in one another for the tasks set.

IMG_20160117_123538 Those left standing continued on to a trip up the Olympian mountains in central Greece, a unique opportunity to visit community wireless project We met it’s key protagonists and heard first hand, from locals about their hopes and fears for the future.  Improvements in the interlinking of settlements has already animated relations and revealed more ancient rivalries of village life. The children and more specifically grandchildren of longest lived residents are the most enthusiastic adopters of the new services in place, now much more willing to visit from nearby towns and cities than ever. IMG_20160117_132232Further promotion of mountain existence and wider expansion of the impressively well distributed quality broadband is underway. . Quality broadband access has been granted by regional university in Larissa and the project has already delivered to eleven of the many dislocated villages. Population depletion of recent decades now shows strong signs of reversal as a consequence of economic turmoil and these homegrown successes. The sense of goodwill and courage demonstrated was an inspiration and energis for the MAZI we now embark on together.

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