This is a brief story of a hardcopy book, and its impact on the city and the wider region.
It is called The New Optimists: Scientists View Tomorrow’a World & What It Means To Us. Kate Cooper published it in 2010; this link explains why she did so.
It comprises 80+ essays from regional scientists, and sold 3,500 copies.
The author of The Lunar Men, Jenny Uglow, wrote the Foreword. The essays were edited and collated by Keith Richards (not the Rolling Stone!). He also wrote this brilliant introduction, as fine account of why science matters as any.
It was launched on the first day of the 2010 British Science Festival by David Shukman, then BBC Science Correspondent, at a big dinner at Birmingham Botanical Gardens.
A year later, Kate published a Kindle Challenging Cancer, with an introduction by the broadcaster, Sue Beardsmore.
At the same time, she was wondering what to do with the brain power she’d unleashed.
And so that publishing endeavour spawned various spin-offs. including:
- The New Optimists Forum which carried out the Birmingham 2050 Scenarios Project, with food as its topic.
- This project lead to Birmingham Public Health, shortly before its transfer from the NHS to the City Council, asking me to set up the Birmingham Food Council.
- The New Optimists made a significant contribution to the HMG’s Elliott Review (2014) after the horse meat scandal.
see also Our update on food crime since the Elliott Review (2015)
- The ‘Narrativium’ projects which, under The New Optimists banner, included the food crime musical performed to thousands of people,* Stories from the future and a theatre production at the MAC, called Food futures.
We’ve carried these projects over into the Birmingham Food Council.
A few years ago, all the IP into the Birmingham Food Council CIC.
*Think community choir, meets rock, meets street theatre.
The image at the top of this blogpost is of one of the professional stars of the show, Xhosa Cole, being interviewed by Mat Beckett of River Rea Films.