Bicycle Matters do Matter

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Lorna Ramm, CineShrub Coordinator. (Credit: Linnéa Lind)


It’s Thursday evening and a small group of people have gathered on Guthrie Street for a film screening, but they don’t know exactly what they will see. The theme is bicycles. 

As bags of popcorn are handed out and blankets are offered, one of the viewers asks if it is okay if she takes her shoes off.

“Of course! This is meant to be like friends coming to a screening,” Lorna Ramm says, CineShrub Coordinator.

The Shrub is a charitable organisation that works towards a world without waste. The film screening tonight is part of the Bicycle Matters programme, which runs until the beginning of May.

“We do repair workshops and screenings. It is all about maintaining bikes and making sure we don’t throw them away. We focus on bicycles for environmental reasons, as there are lots of times when people might take the bus or the car instead,” Lorna says.

She says that the best thing about cycling is speed and freedom:
“Cycling gives me the feeling of being unstoppable and being in my own space, to move forward and be in my zone rather than thinking about what’s going on around me.”

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“Cycling gives me the feeling of being unstoppable and being in my own space,” Lorna Ramm says. (Credit: Linnéa Lind)


The surprise film tonight turns out to be The Flying Scotsman from 2008. The beautiful cinematic piece is based on the true story about cyclist Graeme Obree, who becomes the world champion twice whilst battling mental health issues. He’s also famous for his innovative bicycle designs as he used parts of a washing machine to build a bicycle.

Two of the visitors tonight are India Lumai Fiorentino and Max Johnson, who both cycle in their free time.

“I really loved the film, it was inspirational. True stories are always the best; they give you true motivation, as it is a real story and not made up. There were a lot of messages in the film, like never giving up on your dreams,’’ India says.

When India was young, she often cycled but then stopped because she did not have the opportunity to continue. Two years ago, she took up cycling again when she moved to Amsterdam and bought a new bike.

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India Lumai Fiorentino and Max Johnson came to watch the film on Thursday evening. They both cycle in their free time. (Credit: Linnéa Lind)


“I pushed myself so I could cycle with no hands. I fell a few times and had a few accidents too, but that didn’t discourage me. I can literally search through my bag and look for things and put it back on. In fact, I feel really safe on a bike. Sometimes, I feel unsafe if I go out and it is dark but when I’m on a bike, I am never scared. And you can go fast,” she says.

Max agrees and says that he has cycled ever since he was a child.

“It gives me the ability to engage with the city in a completely different way. It makes Edinburgh even smaller, but in a nice way.”

“I don’t have any plans for building a bicycle with parts of a washing machine, but it might be great,” he says, laughing.

 

The Bicycle Matters programme is part of the Zero Waste Edinburgh project, which aim is to establish long-lasting strategies to reduce waste in the south side of Edinburgh’s Old Town. It is supported by a grant of £300,000 in funding by Zero Waste Scotland and the European Regional Development Fund until March 2020.

For further information about The Shrub, see their webpage here.

The BRIT Awards: A brief history and a look at 2019’s nominees

The 2019 BRIT Awards are set to take place on Wednesday 20th February. The BRIT Awards, run by the British Phonographic Industry, have taken place every February since the second awards ceremony in 1982.

The first BRIT Awards Ceremony took place in 1977 to mark Queen Elizabeth II’s Silver Jubilee and covered the previous 25 years of music.

In the run-up to the biggest annual pop music awards in the UK, here’s a look at the most notable BRIT Awards moments over the years:

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This year’s events kick off next week as some of the nominees are set to perform in small venues as part of BRITs week in partnership with War Child.

Since 2014, The BRITs have become a bigger event, consisting of a number of concerts in the run-up to the awards ceremony.

BRITs Week 2019 starts on Monday. The week-long event will give fans the opportunity to see some of the biggest names in music in intimate venues across London in order to raise money for War Child. Last year, the BRITs Week shows raised around £650,000 for children whose lives have been torn apart by war.

The year’s BRITs Week bill includes chart-toppers The 1975, Bristol rock band IDLES, Critic’s Choice 2018 nominee Mabel.

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This years BRITs Week Line Up (Credit: www.brits.co.uk)

BRIT AWARDS (4)This year’s prestigious Critic’s Choice Award goes to indie-rocker Sam Fender. The Geordie singer-songwriter has charmed the nation with his powerful social justice anthems this year. Sam is the first nominee to receive this year’s BRIT Award, designed by Sir David Adjaye OBE.

 

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I'm truly humbled to win the BRITS critics choice award, being nominated was already crazy enough never mind winning. I want to say a few thank yous, firstly to everyone that voted for me, I'm gobsmacked. To my manager and brother Owain for taking a punt on an 18 year old kid who screwed school up and had no direction. How the hell you saw this in me back then still baffles me. To my band for your relentless work ethic, we've played literally hundreds of shows this year, we've worked bloody hard and we're gonna work even harder next year. Lastly, and most importantly, to my fans, I've met a lot of you over the course of this mental year, and I have to say it has truly been an honour to get up and play night after night to such a wonderful collective of people. Here's to next year! ❤️

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BRIT Award nominees are selected and voted for by music industry professionals, but the public have a say on who walks away with the British Artist Video award and British Breakthrough Act.

Voting is open for another week for both British Artist Video of the Year and British Breakthrough Act here.

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A look at this years BRIT Award nominees. (Credit: Tumblr)

Bleedin’ Saor: tackling period poverty and stigma

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Bleedin’ Saor logo. (Photo credit: Bleedin’ Saor)

Menstruation. TOM (Time of the month, FYI). The blob. Mother Nature’s gift. Whatever you call periods, they are sore. And bloody. Bloody sore, actually.

Aptly so then, that a non-profit student organisation that aims to dispel period poverty and stigma is called Bleedin’ Saor. Founders Brogan Henderson, Hannah Stevens and Sam Calder feel the name is perfect, both for the obvious nod to a woman’s monthly cramp-laden cycle and as saor translates to ‘free, without barriers’ in Gaelic.

Bleedin’ Saor is the design and social media branch of the collaborative A Bloody Big Project that includes Hey Girls – who are a buy one give one social enterprise – innovative marking team at Wire Media and the Bloody Big Brunch event enterprise.

The three Edinburgh Napier Product Design students have been commissioned with the task of designing dispensing stations to replace the ever-so appealing shabby cupboards that currently stock the free sanitary products at all three campuses. Tucked out of sight and reach, advertised with a singular poster limply hanging on by one pin, the current cupboards hardly help discourage the stigma and fail to make the products conveniently accessible.

Bleedin’ Saor and the university are keen to change that.

Next week, Hannah, Brogan and Sam will be trialling temporary sanitary stations to gage a public reaction, in order to design the ideal final solution. They have designed open, basket-like dispensing stations and hope for the final solutions to be situated at locations that have 24-hour multiple access points. Their goal is to bring freeness to a woman’s period – both in terms of cost and shame.

“There’s nothing wrong with the products being there, they don’t have to be hidden,” says Hannah. “We’ve focused on making it so that the products are there and where you can see them – we want people to get used to the fact that this is a normal thing.”

“It’s ridiculous there is still a stigma. Half the population experiences this and it’s a completely normal thing that women experience for 40 plus years of their lives,” says Brogan.

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Hannah, Sam and Brogan. (Photo credit: Rachel Lee)

Bleedin’ Saor also runs a social media campaign that invites people to leave their period stories, ask questions and banish the embarrassment.

“We want people to be able to celebrate their period, which is what we’re doing with our Period Blether project – its’ getting people to talk about it. A lot of people already have shared stories on our website,” says Brogan.

Periods are natural. Unavoidable. Uncomfortable. In a lifetime, a woman will endure around 450 periods and will lose about 12 teaspoons of blood during each cycle. A woman can find her periods to be painful and inconvenient; they needn’t be shameful and costly too.

The Scottish Government took a significant step in the long road to gender equality last year by pledging £5 million towards free sanitary products in all schools, colleges and universities. However, there is still work to be done to ensure that period poverty becomes a thing of the past.

Part of doing so, is opening up honest discussions about periods to all genders. By encouraging it to be universally viewed as a natural, taboo-less fact of life, it will hopefully allow products to be easily accessible and readily available.

“The biggest thing is that we want to raise awareness of it we want people to be comfortable enough to have that conversation” says Brogan.

Hannah adds, “It’s astounding that period poverty still exists in 2019. We have learnt so much since joining the project. We didn’t realise how big it was and that 1 in 5 girls in Scotland are not able to have access to products and therefore missing out in school and their friends by not having access to everything that they need.”

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Sam working on designs. (Photo credit: Bleedin’ Saor)

They hope that, with the new and improved sanitary stations, people will make full use of the free products.

“We don’t want you to just take one product as you need it, take enough to last you your whole period,” says Brogan.

The team say that the university has been greatly supportive of them. University leaders have supported the student’s designs and upcoming installations of the dispensary stations and have provided funding for a trip to Uganda this summer in which the students will observe the social aspects of periods and the design of reusable products.

Napier University has also allowed Bleedin’ Saor to host three across-campus Bloody Big Brunches on March 6th. The team will soon begin fundraising for the event which will welcome people to come together to chat all things period over everyone’s favourite mid-morning meal.

Whatever campus, whatever gender – Bleedin’ Saor is an organisation everyone should get behind.

You can support Bleedin Saor by following their Instagram @bleedinsaor and leaving feedback on the temporary sanitary stations from the 4th February onwards.

A book launch celebrating all things queer

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Michael Lee Richardson and Ryan Vance. (Photo Credit: Sebastian Faugstad)

“I tuck myself under the spathe
as if it were my mother’s pleated skirt.
Corpse-flower. Corpse-stiff and sweet,
the rotted grunt of its scent
enfolding me like a red womb,
holding me tight, safe against the spadix”

Poet Rachel Plummer reads one of her poems in front of eager listeners, Titan Arum. She is one of the contributing writers who have come to St Andrews Brewing Company in Edinburgh for the book launch of We Were Always Here. The world outside the windows is dark and frightening but in here, in this room warmed up by candlelight, diversity is fully accepted and there is no fear.

It is crowded. Glasses filled with beer and wine rest on the wooden tables that match the walls in the bar. On one of the tables there are stacks with the pink anthology, in which the words across the pages are written by people who identify themselves as queer. Other than Rachel Plummer, the contributors Andrés Ordorica, Jay G Ying and Christina Neuwirth are also here tonight.

“I’m going to finish with a poem about the Loch Ness Monster,” Rachel says, as she stands closer to the microphone. She explains that she thinks the monster is non-binary. On the top of her head, a leopard hat can be seen as part of the evening’s animal print theme. She lets go of the microphone and leaves the stage, but the hat stays on for the rest of the night.

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Poet Rachel Plummer. (Photo credit: Linnéa Lind)

“When I was in primary school, I had a fantastic teacher. I really loved poetry and he gave me a poem to read and to memorise. I just loved him so much that I started to write my own versions and my own poems. I haven’t stopped since,” she says while adjusting the leopard on her head.

Rachel has received a commission from LGBT Youth Scotland to write children’s poems based on traditional Scottish folk stories. She says that her sexual orientation often comes through in her poetry.

“I have two children. When I used to tell stories to my daughter I would swap the genders as I read them. Then I thought that maybe other people would be interested in these versions of these stories. That’s how I got into writing children’s poetry.”

When Rachel was young, she did not have many friends and would read many books.
“I felt really different to everybody else and that’s partly because of the queerness and the difference. I read a lot to escape from that. The whole thing made me feel kind of monstrous and I thought that maybe I was the only one in the world who felt like that,” she reveals, “I would really like to put my poetry in the hands of children who feel like that and show them that they are allowed to exist.”

The editors of the anthology, Ryan Vance and Michael Lee Richardson, share their excitement and often laugh with the listeners. Together, they run Queer Words Project Scotland for emerging queer writers. The anthology We Were Always Here is the result of queer literary pieces that were chosen among many submissions.

“A part of the project is to widen the margins a bit and creating a space for people that don’t always get an opportunity and a space,” says Michael Lee Richardson.

The book cover may be delightful and cheery in its pink shade, but the content deals with serious issues such as homophobia and sexual abuse.

“There is a lot of work in the book that reflects on how difficult it is to just get by sometimes. If you read it from cover to cover, there are a few shifts in tone. The pieces go from sweet heart-warming narratives about people finding their place in the world, to shocking moments of thinking that this is horrific, and it’s really refreshing to see queer people allowed to be monsters. We can’t be the best at everything and good all the time, we’re human,” says Ryan Vince.

Today is the first day of the LGBT History Month, which occurs in February each year in Scotland. Read more about it here.

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