Week 3: Ecology Working Group

King Alfred - Ecology Working Group Winchester

Each week we are asking one member from each Working Group to share what they discussed at each meeting and plan to do for the next session. Here is the third Ecology Working Group overview:

We closed our group discussion on week 2 with a question along the lines of:

“What is an Anglo Saxon city, and how can we use that as inspiration for our future?”

Initially the question seems at odds with the 21st century. How can we find inspiration from a time where the highest form of technology was a water mill and social media was confined to tapestries and stories around a fire. Well – there was no car pollution for a start! And then one starts to think about how a city comes to be.

Why does a city spring up in the first place?

A city grows organically, responding to its ecological constraints and assets, but at a certain point, we start to overlay that form, adding layer upon layer of complexity. We build whopping great concrete car parks and private schools and shopping precincts and one way systems. What we end up with is a city of enclaves; of ancient, organically formed pathways clotted by artificial structures. We lose the connection to the very reason the city grew in the first place – it’s landscape; waterways; green space and geography. 
800 years on from King Alfred and his people, we still suffer the same human ailments, have the same desires and needs, but the biggest difference between our community and his, is 800 years of human ‘progress’. It’s the countless layers of complexity in the form of technology, population growth and information overload which now pose a real threat to our basic human needs.
There is no greater threat to this, than the most conspicuous legacy of that 800 years – the global climate crisis, and that is the one thing that unifies us all. So that must be, surely, the single point of focus for change in Winchester. If King Alfred was alive today, I’d like to think he’d feel the same.
We must lead by example, as he did, and focus on creating a city that uses the health and richness of its ecology to inspire and unite the its community now and for the future, and become a beacon of hope for every other city, not just in the UK, but globally.
Big aspiration? Well why not, that never stopped old Alf!
Share your views on what you might like to see for Winchester in the comments box below and stay tuned for the next update from the Ecology Working Group next week! Don’t forget you can also join the conversation on social media, you can find us on FacebookTwitter and Instagram


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