Celebrating Transport, looking to the Future: a conversation about mobility and urban wellbeing in Birmingham and the West Midlands
Join us on Wednesday, November 29, 2023 at 19:00 GMT to discuss the future shape of transport in the West Midlands.
Birmingham was once known, proudly, as the UK’s “motorway city”. For generations the role of the city and the wider region in car manufacture has been a rich source of pride. In recent years, Birmingham City Council has announced plans to rebalance its streets to create more space for public transport and those walking and cycling and similar changes are being made across the West Midlands Combined Authority area. There have been wider calls for urgent action to reduce air pollution and changes to tackle climate change and to promote public health by enabling those who live and work in the region to embed active travel into their daily lives.
For these and other reasons, the future role of cars has become a controversial topic.
The Lunar Society, in collaboration with specialist solicitors VWV, has drawn together a varied panel to celebrate the way that the car and other forms of transport have shaped Birmingham and the West Midlands, and to explore the changes required to deliver mobility and urban wellbeing in years to come.
A modern day Society with a historical heart
The present-day Lunar Society provides a dynamic forum for its membership to influence change through focusing and informing debate, linking social, economic, scientific and cultural thinking, and catalysing action on issues critical to the common good. In the 200-plus years since the original Society, Birmingham and the region have changed beyond recognition. It is now a lively, multicultural city, open to the world. Its industrial base has high technology, medicine and legal services as well as modern manufacturing. It is also notably a young city, with a high proportion of under-35s. Yet what is still the same is the need to adapt continuously, to connect across different agendas and perspectives, and the need to engage local energy and effort in making change succeed. We are at the forefront of this, contributing to an innovative agenda throughout this region and beyond.
Today’s Lunar Society has several hundred members and includes leading practitioners from all walks of life in Birmingham and the wider region, people who are prepared to help shape the scientific, political and social agenda not just here in Birmingham and the West Midlands, but nationally and internationally.
In the late eighteenth century, the meetings of a few fertile minds changed an age…
The original Lunarmen gathered together for lively dinner conversations, the journey back from their Birmingham meeting place lit by the full moon. They were led by the larger-than-life physician Erasmus Darwin, a man of extraordinary intellectual insight with his own pioneering ideas on evolution. Others included the flamboyant entrepreneur Matthew Boulton, the brilliantly perceptive engineer James Watt whose inventions harnessed the power of steam, the radical polymath Joseph Priestley who, among his wide-ranging achievements discovered oxygen, and the innovative potter and social reformer Josiah Wedgwood. Their debates brought together philosophy, arts, science and commerce, and as well as debating and discovering, the ‘Lunarticks’ also built canals and factories, managed world-class businesses — and changed the face of Birmingham.