Progress in 2023 and what’s next for 2024

Over the past year I’ve focussed mainly on projects in the City and Clerkenwell that developed from the idea of Exploring EC1, started before the pandemic. More background on that below, with plans for further development including an exciting project in North Kensington.

Highlights in 2023

I’ve created a set of wiki pages that bring together blog posts and resources about the main area of activity mentioned here.

Background

The aim of Exploring EC1 was to experiment with ways in which media and maps can help people explore and engage with the past, present and future of their neighbourhoods. You’ll see from links here that my son Dan and I experimented with various mapping platforms and developed a system of map records linked to information sheets, with data stored in Airtable.

The inspiration for the project goes back to 1977, when I supported Mike Franks in developing the first heritage trail in Clerkenwell, and then working with Mike to update and put that online in 2019. More in this article for the EC1 Echo.

There are now several hundred records of places in the north west of the City – Culture Mile – and Clerkenwell, with lots of associated information sheets created using Dropbox Paper. That makes it relatively easy to create different sorts of maps from the content.

Opportunities in 2024

More in Clerkenwell and the City…

In Clerkenwell I’ll discuss with Mike Franks and others the scope for developing the maps already started on the rich history of the area, and possibly promoting them again at Clerkenwell Design Week. In addition, there is now a Radical Clerkenwell group, sparked by previous work, and led by the Marx Memorial Library. We’ve discussed with Footways the idea of creating a paper map as well as one online, building on the success they’ve had in other areas.

In the City, I hope there’s scope to develop the idea of a guide to Culture Mile, and the wider Destination City programme. As I wrote here, I think that’s particularly needed because action is split between the many departments in the Corporation and five Business improvement Districts.

It looks as if the independent review of the programme, currently underway, will suggest more focus on a liveable, workable city to complement activities to attract visitors. Engaging residents and workers in what that may mean for them is essential to its success.

… and further innovation in North Ken

One particular pleasure, and exciting opportunity, arose at the end of 2023 when I met up with friends and acquaintances from North Kensington who are revisiting the radical projects and campaigns that they developed in the 1960s and 1970s.

As I’ve written here, I lived in the area in the 1970s when I was working for the Evening Standard, and covered some of the action. From 1977 to 1981 I was chair of the North Kensington Amenity Trust which later became the Westway Trust.

I’m now discussing with the group how we might use some of the tools and systems I’ve been developing in EC1 to tell the story of social innovation in North Kensington. It will be in part the Voices of the Troublemakers, as the group tell their stories, and partly a project to locate the action on one or more maps with QR codes to link on-the-ground and online information creating a participatory Museum of the Streets.

Most of us are in our 70s or 80s, so there is a sense of urgency that will help drive things forward.

Do get in touch if you are interested in any of the above. More about me here, and my email address is David@socialreporter.com

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