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.
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 Vice – The Regeneration Game – which looks at some of the issues …