This blog post started life about a month ago as a reflection on an evening at the Olympic Park to see a preliminary hockey match at an arena which has since been transformed to a Paralympic hockey venue for football, and will change again before the Park eventually reopens. Sustainability and change at the heart of this Games. While I loved that visit, the post – that focused on how the park and London felt different, changed because of the Games, because of the volunteers who were pounding not just the venues but the city streets, golden post boxes and more than one generation truly inspired – just lacked something, a heart I guess, so time passed and I didn’t publish.
Then the Paralympics opening ceremony. With Stephen Hawking and science at its core. A sea change again as heads spun on Twitter trying to get used to a new world where Glamour magazine can comfortably quote one of the UK’s top scientists, and the scientific heritage that brought us to this point where technology and superhuman expertise is openly celebrated. I might not be involved in science and society policy at the moment, but I can celebrate that moment and recognise the impact it could have. As an inspired city and country can celebrate sporting achievement as something to aim for rather than empty celebrity, could we be seeing a change in attitudes to the science that gets teams and individuals to the starting lines – or is it already there, something nascent like a passion for sporting excellence that many just gloss over as daily life gets in the way?
Science and technology were at the heart of the Olympic opening ceremony too – but I couldn’t work out if it was always in a good way. Was I seeing mixed messages about scientific progress in the segment where England’s (or GB for those of us who can’t claim English heritage) green and pleasant land is effectively destroyed by progress, but then the power of technology, the world wide web (personified by its creator in a stadium of light) has the capacity to bring us all together, and bring human stories to the fore through the power of social media. I’m lucky to work with someone who was part of that opening ceremony, and have a glimpse of what it was like to be involved in that – and again watch from a distance as social media is allowing those human stories to be shared by those who can say they were there. Humanising a cast of thousands and continuing to build bridges between them.
So legacy comes in lots of forms – some of them maybe never anticipated in that bid that has brought us Londoners along for almost three-quarters of a decade. Inspiration comes in many forms and just has to be translated, fed and grown. Closer to home (well work) it’s got a colleague blogging, inspired to share his London photography, initially on the Olympics, but that’s hopefully only the beginning.
- A show of genius! Professor Stephen Hawking and wounded war veteran launch the London 2012 Paralympic Games (standard.co.uk)
- Paralympics start with big bang and apples (iol.co.za)