Week 3: Lifetimes Working Group

Hat Fair - Lifetimes Working Group

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 Lifetimes Working Group overview:

During this third session we agreed that the Lifetimes Working Group was about defining principles rather than mapping ideas spatially. The idea of focusing on principals has emerged from the groups collective interest in the 15 minute city that we discussed last week, and the idea that we should focus on how to create lifelong opportunity in a 15 minute city in Winchester and prioritise the cross-overs and the common ground between different age groups.

There seemed to be a bit of disagreement within the group between utility and function versus attractiveness and ‘beauty’. The latter arguably contributes to well-being, whereas the former focuses much more on what people need and a basic desire to establish equality and equal access to basic community needs such as a place to socialise or a decent shop etc.

This led to a discussion about connectivity and the routes and pathways that could currently be walked in each area but which don’t quite connect. i.e a circular route that might circumnavigate busy roads, allowing people to walk a connected route between home and school or into town or to the park.

We also discussed travel and options for people moving about the city and the fact that the city is full of cultural, historic artefacts and natural spaces; often people don’t use these free resources. We talked about the barriers that are preventing them from accessing them, which touched on a far more complex set of questions relating to culture, individual cultures, personal motivations and psychologies. This relates back to ideas in Week 1, where we talked about how young people can be encouraged and motivated to have greater agency if they have access to groups or mentors in the community.

A suggested solution to this is creating an index of all resources in Winchester that can be shared. However, we noted that if a person is not motivated to do so it becomes hard to encourage them to take part and furthermore this shared resource started to feel a bit like the err… internet!!

Last week, we discussed adopting the culture of the Hat Fair 365 days a year; the city should be a porous experience co-created by the people who lived here.

One example that was given was ‘Window Wanderland’ an event run in February in Bristol. Residents decorate their front window and a map is created so that people can tour this neighbourhood exhibition and come together at the coldest, most drab time of the year.

It was suggested that a year round calendar of activities could activate the ’15 Minute cities’ that surround the town centre and that the High Street itself becomes a meeting place, a space of convergence where perhaps all of the neighbourhoods come together. 

The focus of all these ideas was how to co-create public space that enabled all age groups to participate. That ‘public realm’ or the places between A & B are opened up and activated so that every pavement, park, alleyway is a place for people to connect with each other and with the culture of the city. These spaces can leap into action and become the culture of the city where individuals express themselves through brilliant front gardens and generous planting creates colourful walks throughout the year.

Communities taking ownership over their 15 minute neighbourhood could also include devolving power for the central WCC to groups. Small project grants for example, that would be disseminated across the city could have a really big impact and, although some may fail, it would break the impasse feeling like nothing is moving or changing. Paris was highlighted as a city that gives 10% of its budget to community participation.

This utopian thinking was again rightly challenged with the question of equality. The neighbourhoods that are already doing well would simply go on to exceed at producing brilliantly orchestrated public space etc and those more challenged areas would need greater support.

Although we found as many problems to solutions I think this meeting has opened up the discussion of what is possible and how far reaching those possibilities could be both in terms of the more localised residential areas and the way that could interleave into the city centre, creating a high street that is more playful, that people come to spend time, to socialise. This dwell time is then picked back up as an economic impact as shops and business spring up to accommodate the new town centre.

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 Lifetimes 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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