Exploring Community

Exploring Community – a facilitated open discussion looking at how communities are changing and encouraging the development of ground up solutions to common problems.

I started Exploring Community because I wanted:

  • to find out what really concerns local people
  • to ensure that different community groups got together – speed dating style
  • to erode some of the artificial / assumed boundaries between groups to ensure more cohesive working between them …

That’s a lot to achieve!   But then, I’m not easily scared.

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I was inspired by the art work London is Changing –  a design and research project by Rebecca Ross (with help from Duarte Carrilho da Graça) at Central Saint Martins.

Exploring Community: Outcomes

There will be a series of follow-up events, taking the themes further, opening up yet more discussion, more solutions and co-working opportunities and led and agreed by the group.

These will be kick-started by open invitations to various local groups with the aim of encouraging mutual working and understanding.

I won’t talk about the issues that we discussed – we are all bound by confidentiality.   That’s the only way to achieve open discussion and sharing of the issues affecting the community.   I can share some common themes however:

  • Insulation between different groups is harming communities further at a time of already damaging rapid change
  • Gentrification and the lack of affordable housing
  • Mental health and wellbeing as people become displaced by profit driven development
  • The creative life of the city is being eroded as people get pushed out to its fringes
  • Communities are becoming ‘museum exhibits’, fetishised rather than humane

I’ll finish with a final thought. During this first session, I asked of the homeowners among those present whether they could afford to buy their home at today’s valuation. The answer? Unsurprisingly, no.

Keep an eye out for the next event – it will be at a different venue next time, part of the spirit of keeping people talking, thinking afresh and working together.

Here’s a recent piece from ViceThe Regeneration Game – which looks at some of the issues …