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With grim inevitability, I return to the recycling champions saga. The whole saga really is a foul temptress, drawing me back in with the offer of some potential answers to my questions, then slapping me down and leaving me bewildered and back at square one.

Hope this time came in the form of an extravangant green and black magazine/booklet provided to me by Rachael Giaramita, who seems to have some kind of anonymous council based tap that churns out materials and email addresses for relevant council officials. So thanks for that!

The front cover offers so much potential, the oddly gothic green and blacks juxtaposed by an incredibly joyful lady in a hi-viz jacket, practically screaming to the heavens with delight as she helps her local community. The reactions of those around her at this time aren’t illustrated, but I imagine it would be a shuffle of awkwardness.

In big letters streaking across the front is the declaration: MAKING STREETS INTO NEIGHBOURHOODS. How promising, for wasn’t the role of our illustrious champions to make our grey streets into gold-paved recycling havens? The title of the booklet is ‘Street Champions’ (you may note that the site is still under construction. The booklet states the site will be live by January 2010. Typical eh?),  a slightly different title but maybe this new crack squad of mercenary citizens encompassed the recycling messiahs?

First page, and so far, so good. There’s a bloke who helps dispose of waste for his neighbood in Lozell’s. Not exactly recycling, but at least he’s helping to tidy up a bit. On the next couple of pages, I noted they’d even roped in kids (in standard council issue hi-vis jackets) to litter pick! What a great school trip that must have been.
Over the next couple of pages, it’s clear the Street Champions do alot. They clean up graffiti from skateparks, clean up allotments, stop people from dumping rubbish (I’m sad to admit I regressed into a 6 year old’s mindset and had a good chuckle at the ‘Stop The Dumping’ tagline), and organise various community events. But the ‘R’ word was missing. No mention so far.

My heart was sinking quicker than Steve Brookstein’s illustrious music career (he played a Pizza Express in Maidstone recently dontchaknow?!), and things didn’t get much better. The ‘R’ word just wasn’t coming up. However, I was intrigued by a piechart which outlined the fact that 71% of Street Champions didn’t actually feel that the current system worked. I’m not being funny, but that sounds like an oddly high level of discontent amongst people who volunteered for the role.

There was also a piece calling for volunteers to be Community Crime Fighters. Doesn’t this sound like a scheme spiralling a tiny bit out of control? Volunteering to clean up graffiti is great, I mean if the council don’t want to do it and can find people willing to for free, then I’m all for it. But crime fighting? Unless some kind of action movie dream-team consisting of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal and Chuck Norris happen to live in Birmingham, I would hate to see a kind-hearted resident end up in danger simply because they were willing to help out their neighbourhood. Surely this is what PCSO’s are for? They might as well be asking people to dress up as Batman and patrol the mean streets of Birmingham at night from the rooftops.

Anyway, I digress. Cutting to the chase, Recycling Champions are only mentioned once in the entire 20 page booklet. It’s on the very last page, and guess what? It’s only another bloody advertisement for ‘Community Recycling Champions’. Written by Jeremy Shields from BCC, it basically asks for volunteers in the same vein as pretty much any other recycling champions material I’ve found.

There is a huge contact list in the booklet, but most of them are managers of street champions. Considering the advert comes from Jeremy Shields, I’m guessing that Recycling Champions are different entity handled elsewhere. Nevertheless, I’m attempting to get in contact to get some answers. Otherwise, I’ll have to send my old friend FOI to draw out some answers…

So there you have it. The carnival that is looking for Recycling Champions, encapsulated in one small booklet. It almost makes the Elections seem simple…


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