No butts

It’s amazing what you can pick up with a litter picker (if that’s what those long sticks are called). At first sight on Saturday, Leith Links looked fresh and clean in the spring sunshine. Within two hours it was much cleaner. A group of willing volunteers had filled around 30 refuse sacks with assorted rubbish – crisp packets, drinks cans, cigarette butts, poly bags and a few other things you didn’t want to investigate closely (those litter pickers and rubber gloves meant you didn’t have to!).

leith links clean up

Bags of fun – with thanks to Greener Leith for the picture

Leith Open Space supported the enterprising community event organised by Greener Leith. We were joined by Cllr Gordon Munro (who is standing again for Leith Harbour Ward and got stuck in despite being dressed for a HIBS match, no prizes for picking him out) and Angela Blacklock, a Labour candidate for the new Leith Central Ward in Thursday’s Council elections, who proved to be a dab hand at picking up cigarette butts.

Altogether, as Alastair Tibbitt of Greener Leith said, it was not only a successful afternoon, it was fun too. Here’s to the next one!

The word on the street

If you have time, treat yourself to a walk through living memories today. As you walk round Leith you will almost certainly see the green ear signs marking the spot where local people tell stories that shape the character of this unique part of Edinburgh.greenear 1 2

These green ears are symbols of [murmur] a very human approach to local history which we first reported on this website in September last year (see Making History in Leith). At that time we passed on an appeal for local people to come forward with their stories. Now [murmur] Edinburgh has been launched and Leith Open Space is very proud to have played a small part in helping to make local history. Some of our supporters are among the voices on the street.

Memories of life in Leith can come to life with the help of your mobile phone. Dial the number on the sign and you can hear a story (often more than one) triggered by this location. Alternatively, if you don’t have time for a walk today, click on the [murmur] Edinburgh website, and try any of the red dots on the map.

storytelling 1

A sense of place: thanks to New Media Scotland for pictures

Remember when you could catch a train from Leith Central Station to Waverley? Just click here for John Stewart’s story? Or try here for Stan’s great tales of ‘the dancing’ on Mondays and Fridays when Alexander’s Ragtime Band filled the Assembly Hall with jiving couples. Then go along to Victoria Swim Centre to hear Gina remember the days when she paid six old pennies for a bath at Victoria Swimming Pool (for a whole shilling she got soap too).

The present inspires stories too. Celina Mbwiria, a founder member of our Opening Doors shadow scheme, celebrates the diversity she finds at the foot of Leith Walk. Click here for her warm memories of the welcome Leith Primary School gave her children at a time when there were no black children in the classroom. And click here to discover how Tommy Miah (who has generously donated food for our Open Space events) brings ‘fusion’ food such as curried haggis to that grand old cinema building which is now The Raj restaurant.

Supporters of Leith Open Space were among many who responded to the appeal for stories when Shawn Micallef came from Toronto last year to explore the potential for developing the [murmur] project in Edinburgh. Mary Moriarty, vice chair of Leith Festival, welcomed Shawn to meet locals at her Port O’ Leith bar with his name chalked among today’s specials on the bar blackboard. (Click here for one of Mary’s stories).portoleithjpeg

The first 20 story signs were recently launched in Leith but there will always be room for more. Shawn hopes to be back for a second launch in June when [murmur] Leith is part of the Six Cities Design Festival, and the Leith Festival.
[murmur] in Leith is produced in partnership with New Media Scotland (, which supports imaginative collaboration between art and technology. Or as Michelle Kasprzak of NMS puts it: ‘we are using the technology we all carry in our pocket as a tool to access contemporary culture’. New Media Scotland is core funded by the Scottish Arts Council, and [murmur] in Leith is supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund and the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

December Diary

Music, food and friendship are the main themes of our December events. But there is room for stimulating debate too in the Full Council Meeting on Thursday 21 December. Members of Opening Doors are welcome to join a group outing to hear the debate on the proposed tram route from Leith – and the case against replacing Trident.

Please contact Leith Open Space Group if you want to promote your own event. Email us at

Monday 11 December Winter Party
6.30 – 9.30 pm
Edinburgh Refugee Centre, St George’s West Church, Shandwick Place.

Everyone is welcome to join the annual party where there will be international food and music provided by African Scottish band Diwan, Brazilian group, Dias Quarter, Scottish folk singer Aaron Jones.

Thursday 14th December Polish Market
14:00 – 20:00
Castle Street

The market will feature a range of authentic Polish food, drink and live music. Organised in collaboration with the Scottish Polish Cultural Association.

Saturday 16 December

Friends of Dalmeny Street Park Winter Planting & Litter Pick
Meet in the Park at 9.30am.

Co-ordinator, Lise Bratton says the day starts with the litter-pick until about 11.00 and then everyone repairs to Out of the Blue’s Drill Hall for hot drinks, home-made cakes and cookies. The planting session will start at about 11.30am and is likely to finish around 1pm.
Equipment: all equipment will be provided but remember to dress for the weather!

Thursday December 21 Full Council Meeting

10 am City Chambers

This meeting could be worth finding a seat in the public gallery. Councillors debate the business case for the proposed tram route from Leith to the airport – and Council Leader, Ewan Aitken will raise the temperature further with his opposition to replacing Trident. Opening Doors members are invited to join a group visit to City Chambers.

November diary

From drum workshops to English language classes, from complementary therapies to council meetings, or simply a chance to meet and talk over a cup of tea – here are just a few of the multicultural community activities happening in Edinburgh this month. Please let us know if you want to promote activities open to Leith communities – either here in Leith or elsewhere in the city.
First up: two events for members of Edinburgh’s Polish Community. Continue reading “November diary”

Making History in Leith

Who makes history? The answer according to Shawn Micallef is that we all do. And history can happen on a park bench, in a shop doorway or by a post box in Leith.

Shawn is creative director of [murmur] an innovative Canadian arts company who have come to Leith for their first project outside Canada and the US. With the help of funding by New Media Scotland, [murmur] will make local history come to life by recording the memories and stories of local people and communities living in Leith. But first [murmur] needs to hear from you.
murmur blur1
murmur at work in Toronto:

Continue reading “Making History in Leith”