Sharing Communities

Sharing Communities is the name I gave to my Bristol 2015 Neighbourhood Arts Programme commission running from April to October 2015, as part of Bristol’s European Green Capital year.

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The brief was to work across the Cabot, Clifton and Clifton East Neighbourhood Partnership area of Bristol engaging people in re-use, re-purposing and recycling.

It’s such a diverse area, taking in the leafy heights and former slave trade residencies of Clifton to council estates in Redcliffe with issues of disengagemetn and racism.

I met with residents and stakeholders from Bristol City Council, Bristol University staff and students, local businesses and organisations to find out what people’s concerns and interests were and I developed five projects:

  1. Bedknobs and Broomsticks was an idea to encourage students and more permanent residents to share resources and skills as a way of diffusing some of the tensions that locals thought derived from ever growing student numbers. This was a partnership with Bristol University student union (UBU), Bristol University Waste Services and Community Liaison.
  2. Your Place to Play was a consultation event for young people in the Cumberland Piazza with Young Bristol
  3. Float your Boat with the Underfall Boatyard explored boating re-use and creative engagement about of the restoration of the yard. I created a large banner with photos of re-use stories gathered by Isobel Tarr, and a sound track with Liz Purnell and ran several ‘boat making’ workshops for families. We then floated the boats in the Cumberland Piazza. 
  4. Growing Communities began as a series of conversations with people in the neighbourhood who were doing great stuff with gardens, but I met some council estate residents at a neighbourhood forum and embarked on a partnership to do some re-use and planting at their annual Children’s Day event and build a garden in the children’s playground in the estate. I also painted a mural with the kids.
  5. The Wayfarers were bandstands designed and built by the fantastic trainee architects I acquired from UWE as the first part of the brief I wrote for Rachel Sara’s Live Project. I had met a group who were organising extended road closures for the A4 Portway running through the Avon Gorge after sporting events, so that the community could enjoy the space. I wanted to see how the acoustics sounded against a rock face and the group wanted some creative activities for their event. The brief specified that the structures had to be made form re-use materials and be transported manually. 

The main legacies from Sharing Communities for me are that I have joined the Peaceful Portway Steering Group and helped them run two more successful events, with another planned, reducing emissions and giving the community access to this iconic space; inspired the Underfall Boatyard to keep re-use at the heart of it’s activities and make lots of banners of their own; established a collaboration with the trainee architects which led to raising £20,000 for the Cumberland Piazza and making out pocket park. I also got involved with the fantastic Bristol Re-Use Network who are inspiring!

The challenges were the tight timescale and working with marginalised people without the support of youth and community workers.

For more details and re-use stories see Sharing Communities engagement and Sharing Communities Activities  

 

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