I travelled up to Leigh Park today to meet with Lynne Dick, the Director of Making Space www.makingspace.org
They’ve recently completed a Heritage Lottery funded project and I wanted to learn from her what she thought made the project a success and how it might have been better.
Making Space as an organisation is a refreshing blend of valuing the creative (seven studios available for artists starting-up) whilst underlining the practical (artists need to have a business plan and show how they’re going to make a living from their work) and outreach (using creative approaches to engage and value local people and skills).
Whilst their former project doesn’t link so much with Somerstown Stories, the new one they’ve just applied for may overlap a great deal with ours. The new project seeks to explore Leigh Park in the post-war era and they’ll be recruiting a Historian-in-Residence. Given that many of the former residents of Somerstown may have been relocated to Leigh Park, there may be some interesting cross-overs, as their stories and ours, weave together.
More to come on this, I’m sure!
I met with a chap called Tim Raw who’s the Marketing and Communications Officer for Somerstown Regeneration. Jan Fleming put me on to him and we had a very useful meeting where I was able to update him on the Somerstown Stories project and its scope, and he in turn explained to me about the next campaign they want to run called ‘Supporting Somerstown’. This is where the Housing team will work with the residents to find out how they can support them in developing their locality “beyond the bricks and mortar”.
I’m very excited and pleased to hear that people within the Housing team are looking beyond the built environment and acknowledging that a successful, sustainable community is based on more than good street lighting and regular rubbish collections.
Now, don’t misunderstand me: lighting and rubbish collection can do a lot to improve an area, as well as well-planned streets, green spaces and good transport links. And that’s just the start of the list. But to make a community truly successful, everyone living in it needs to be able to understand that they EACH have a part to play and contribution to make. One drop of water won’t fill a bucket, but if everyone adds just one drop, the bucket will overflow. In the same way, successful communities have co-operation and a shared sense of ownership and belonging. People know and understand that its a symbiotic relationship: what happens over here has an impact on what happens over there. Positive and negative events create ripples that touch more than just those who might be immediately involved.
As we talked, Tim explained that he didn’t really know quite how to launch the campaign, or how it might link to the heritage element of this project, but then we realised that Somerstown Stories actually provides a really good platform form which to launch this forward thinking campaign.
Having looked back at where we’ve come from, and understanding more about why and how we are now where we find ourselves, people in the locality can look forward, with a greater degree of informed understanding and a better grasp of the implications of the decisions they might choose to make.
We can’t fix people. Its not our responsibility and we haven’t the right. But maybe, through a good combination and variety of activities, opportunities and events, we can help people to choose to fix themselves.
PS Tim Raw from PCC sent me details about a local heritage project taking place in Leigh Park that has also been funded by HLF. I’ve contacted the project Director to see if she’d be willing to share some top tips with me!