Wednesday, October 17, 2007

City of dreams?

Yesterday, I was invited to attend and observe a 'Generation Europe' conference, which assembled from Cardiff's twin towns in France, Germany, Ukraine and Norway groups of senior citizens and young people to consider an agenda of wide ranging social policy issues, family values, environment, community safety and neighbourhood renewal. Over a hundred people took part.

Unfortunately it clashed with the last City Centre Retail Partnership meeting before Christmas, so I could not stay for the whole event. The Retail Partnership meeting is so informative and relevant to daily life in the city, it's vital for someone from St John's to be there to keep on top of unfolding events. So, I had to dip in and dip out of a conference which normally I would have been glad to observe from start to finish. Now I have to await the conference report.

In the opening session the latest edition of the irritatingly trendy Cardiff promotional video was proudly shown, to introduce the city to our poor visitors. It's a brilliantly crafted piece of hokum, more like a pop video (soundtracked with third rate euro-techno-pop), full of fantasy images that somehow manage to take the substance out of the city, disorient the viewer and reduce Cardiff to a dream world, in which you're not exactly sure where you are to start with. And this is the city I live in?

By way of contrast, our twin city of Nantes gave us a beautiful presentation of video and still images of their city, shown to a typically nonchalant French soundtrack, that was chock full of content. Images of culture and entertainment, of industry, science and learning, noteworthy achitecture, art and physical environment that left me wondering why I haven't visited Nantes, as the city appears to have a lot about it - certainly a lot more than dreamy images.

What are the image-makers and spin doctors doing to our city?

I asked the two six formers sitting on my conference table to rate the videos out of ten. They didn't bother. The French one was better, they said.

Does that mean they didn't recognise the Cardiff they live in either?

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