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Urban Sustainability: Evidence of Autumn

corn-on-the-cobAugust's Sustainable Bristol column from The Bristol Post, on sweetcorn, car free city centres, the Wild Place Project and the ending of summer:

The arrival of the seasonal harvest of UK sweetcorn in farm shops is always a cause for celebration in our house. But my joy this year was dented somewhat by the response of the Farmer. "When we get the corn on the cob in, I know autumn's just around the corner" he cheerfully announced.

I always struggle come September with not wanting the summer to end. I'm lulled into a false sense of hope by the remaining sunny days, and a glut of hedgerow fruits. I try and ignore the warning signs of the increasing early morning nip in the air and the children's return to school. Now it seems I have the foreboding omen of sweetcorn to worry about too!

Fortunately the sun was still out on Sunday for the Mayor's third free 'Make Sundays Special' event of the year in the Old City. If you haven't taken the kids yet you should definitely visit the remaining two on Sunday 29th September and Sunday 20th October.

These monthly Make Sundays Special events are already proving a big success. It's not just the crowds enjoying the free family entertainment. It's great to see local businesses getting involved too. Many are putting on extra food, music and entertainment, with their own extra chairs, sofas and gazebos out on the streets. Some must be making many times their usual weekend takings on these special Sundays. And good luck to them.

What I find almost unbelievable is that a few businesses are actually shut and missing out on these Sundays. Take a look for yourself at next month's event on 29th September. See which local shops have the community spirit and good business sense to be taking part. And as for those that are shut and losing out? I wouldn't be surprised if many of those businesses aren't still with us this time next year.

Of course the schools will be back by September's Make Sundays Special, but there a few more weeks of summer freedom yet. If like me you are a bit 'Gromited out' by now, then the traditional problem end of summer problem of 'What else can we do with the kids?' is starting to crop up.

Fortunately this year help is at hand in the shape of Bristol's newest attraction, the Wild Place Project. Out by Cribbs Causeway, this is Bristol Zoo's first step towards their long term plan to create a National Wildlife Conservation Park. It may be a small start for now, but it is great to see the Zoo finally up and running with this venture, and for parents the Wild Place Project is a welcome additional family attraction to add to the list for keeping the children entertained.

So enjoy your sweetcorn and what's left of the summer sun. And a big "Bah! Humbug!" to those Bristol restaurants already advertising for Christmas bookings.

Paul Rainger is director of Bristol's BIG Green Week Festival in June.

This article was first published in The Bristol Post on Thursday 22nd August.