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 final Ecology Working Group overview:
“Now pull the last four Ecology sessions seamlessly together to make some robust, insightful and progressive recommendations.”
Without saying it in those terms, that was the challenge laid out in front of us for our last hour by our facilitator. No pressure then. So much already discussed but so much left to discuss, surely, but you can’t go on ad infinitum… or so we were told.
This isn’t the place to run through our recommendations but more an opportunity to give a sense of the topics we moved through (in no particular order and not exhaustive); Ecology as a broad definition, climate change, under appreciated of historic and green ‘assets’, people in Winchester’s history that can tell us stories of today, physical and digital way-finding, spaces and events where we naturally find cultural and generational diversity and spaces or events where we could recreate it (especially those that intersect with our historic and green assets), traffic, the energy of our creative sector, gateways to the city, the power of small transitions to create change and momentum. The discussions alone served to remind me how beautiful and multidimensional Winchester is when you are driven to think about it or when you happen upon it – and there in a nutshell lies one of the main problems.
What struck me strongly as we started to wrap things up was not the strength, or otherwise, of our suggestions but more the power of the process. A genuinely inclusive one, where all ideas and inputs were valued, assimilated, and iterated to move, step-by-step, towards some ideas that started to feel right for Winchester. The strength of the process, in getting to high quality and genuinely useful conversations, was in the skilled facilitation, and the cross section of the community involved, plus their willingness to contribute in an open, non entrenched way.
The conclusion I personally drew was that our recommendations may or may not be useful, but if we did one thing differently going forward it would be to regularly and pro-actively reach a rich diversity of Winchester’s community and genuinely listen and co-create solutions together for the city. I have absolutely no doubt that the residents of Winchester have all the right answers if we ask good, open questions. Ask, listen… carefully. Generate ideas, re-ask, iterate, plan, create transitions, show change, create momentum, ask again… listen, go again.
My Winchester is a recognisably ‘green’, culturally diverse and historic city, with it’s people at it’s heart, and moving with the times…or at least I have faith it can be.
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