The Shepherd's Bush blog is a fantastic example of a local area site, run by an enthusiastic resident with genuine love for the area. The blog celebrates all that is great about the Bush, but has also grown to act as a serious and important news and views point for locals, on issues, campaigns and happenings that don't make it onto a traditional news agenda.
If you had to describe your blog in less than 15 words how would you do it?
A thriving community based and owned source of news and views for Shepherds Bush residents
Why did you start blogging?
Because I was frustrated that there was no on or offline W12 based source of news that wasn’t either a couple of pages at the front of an Ealing paper (the next borough) or an advertiser led website with the odd out of date article. There was and is so much going on in W12, I honestly believe this is one of the most diverse and vibrant areas of London, and this just wasn’t reflected anywhere, meaning that many residents were really missing out on what was on their doorstep.
There are also of course lots of things wrong with the area and I suppose it’s a place for me and contributors to give a voice to how we feel about those. From time to time local political leaders respond to that on the blog too.
What about London inspires your blog?
The diversity of the city. Shepherd’s Bush alone is a microcosm of this with strong West Indian, Arab and Irish communities among others.
What's your favourite post/day/find in Shepherds Bush to date?
My favourite posts are always those of the community festivals we have in the locality, I try to get along to most of them and put pictures up afterwards. It gets a huge amount of local traffic, the most recent being a Japanese Garden Party which over 150 people viewed and commented on. I’ve had comments that people wouldn’t have either known about them or gone along themselves had they not read it.
What are the best and worst things about Shepherd's Bush?The best things are the energy and vibrancy of the local community and the way it knits together. You can see it every day if you walk down the Uxbridge Road as I do most mornings quite early. The stall holders in the market and shopowners constantly working together. I was in Shepherd’s Bush on July 21st when we were attacked and I saw those same people starting to work with the police who were desperately trying to get people up that road and away from the tube. The shop and stall owners just joined in without thinking about it.
The worst thing has to be the gangs, which is a London wide problem but our own local morons include the gang that calls itself ‘Murder Dem Pussies’. They were the ones who stabbed Kodjo Yenga. There is currently a case investigating the shooting of a man in Loftus Road at Christmas as well.
You are in some ways, like a local news service - was this intentional, or has it grown naturally?
It wasn’t intentional, but that side of the blog seems to be the most popular and there is certainly a need for it which is not currently filled at all. Just last week there was a stabbing on the Goldhawk Road which the local press did not cover at all. I was alerted to it by nearly a hundred people coming to the blog and searching for information about it. Because I didn’t know what had happened I just asked them, and several of them contributed what they knew, including two people who were apparently witnesses. In this way local people had a way of knowing what had happened in their community around a week before the traditional media got round to reporting it.
Equally when there was a fire in Hammersmith I blogged hourly including using footage that someone sent me having uploaded to YouTube. That harnesses the power of blogging for me, citizen journalists that pass news directly to each other using the technology that’s available. No other source could compete - its just one tiny story to the likes of the BBC and there is no local online service that reported it until several days afterwards. I had hundreds of hits on that story alone that day. So it shows there is a need.
I don’t claim to be just a news service though - I’m far too opinionated for that so people get news and views - their own as well as mine. There are currently local campaigns that have featured on the site relating to the effect that the Westfield Shopping Centre has had on the lives of people living locally, and local politicians have crossed swords on the blog over plans by Thames Water to build a ‘super sewer’ in a local park.
Would you feel more or less connected to London, or missed out on things without your blog?
I’ve discovered a huge amount about the local area just because of the blog. In part because of what readers contribute and also because I’m always under pressure to find new and interesting things to put up there. There’s a huge amount of hidden history in Shepherd’s Bush for example - you just need to know where to look.
How has your blog connected you to another community of bloggers in London? The world?
I work in another part of London, Stockwell in South London, and have regularly contributed to the local blog community there too. Although I don’t live there its added a richness to the time I spend in that part of the world too.
Tell us about another up-and coming London blogger you like
Faded London - not sure about the ‘up and coming’ tag but this blogger is excellent. They reveal lots of hidden history about their part of London and it inspired my own local series of hidden history you can still see in Shepherd’s Bush.
And for some general London chat Bit academic now, where do you live & why do you love it?
Shepherd’s Bush and for all of the reasons above!
What's your favourite place in London?
Apart from Shepherd’s Bush I’d have to say Golders Green where I used to live a long time ago. Another area with a very vibrant community ethos.
Have you ever been sick on the tube?
Yes. And I once woke up in Morden having travelled at least once up and down the length of the Northern Line asleep. Don’t drink too much before getting on the tube kids.
Anything else we should know?
Yes. You should know just how lucky you are to live in London. My job takes me to places in Africa which have been affected severely by armed conflict. Coming back here you realise just what a fantastic place this city is.