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Week 18 – Nuala’s book review

Friday, February 4th, 2011

This week was Nuala’s turn at the book club, a challenge she took with much gusto! Our resident PhD student, Nuala has an impressive talent at deciphering information, analysing and summarising content. The thesis for the evening was: What creates a good City? Covering three books, Cities for People by Jan Gehl, Creating Sustainable Cities by Herbert Girardet and Collapse by Jared Diamond, she drew key arguments from each, which built towards a lively debate on the responsibility of individuals in creating sustainable cities.

Jan Gehl, the Danish architect who reformed Copenhagen into a City for People, uses a method of people-watching to understand what a good city could be, with ‘Liveliness’ of a City being an essential element. However, Nuala found it lacked discussion on why liveliness was so important and was disappointed to find little rigour behind his method of people-watching.

In Jared Diamond’s Collapse, the writer establishes a 5 point framework for why Cities collapse. The last book, Creating Sustainable Cities, looks to find how the problems of a City can be solved, providing examples of Cities that are sustainable within themselves. These books posed complex questions to the book club – Is it every persons duty to be aware and act on sustainability? Are Cities the answer to the issues of sustainability? How do our actions impact the City? A very successful book club, Nuala brought to light the greater context in which ‘Love the City’ is working and conveyed the importance of understanding and debating this in order to create a good City.

Week 18 – Open Day II

Thursday, February 3rd, 2011

On Thursday afternoon, the team hit the streets once more! As we worked to distil 100 ideas for the area based on our conversations during the Open Day, we have found that further discussions with specific groupings are necessary to ensure all voices are heard. This second Open Day was more defined, with the team targeting specific groupings who we either missed the first time or did not hear enough from. Mary and Vincent headed to the Dublin Christian Missions on Chancery Place to talk to the youth of the area. Nuala picked up the responses box from the parishioners of Father O’Brien’s Cappuchian Friary. Shane, John and Nuala talked to parents outside George’s Hill Primary School as well as tourists in the Jameson Distillery. Michéal talked to Laura, the woman behind Block T and a head of the business development board in Smithfield. Nuala had lunch with Jessica Foley who is running sensory walks through the Market’s Area with the children of George’s Hill Primary School. From these exciting meetings and encounters, the team are now working to distil this information again and add to the 100 ideas.

Week 18 – Visit from Anastasia Crickley

Wednesday, February 2nd, 2011

We were delighted to be joined by Anastasia Crickley, Head of Applied Social Studies at NUI Maynooth this afternoon for a lively and insightful discussion on community engagement. With Anastasia’s extensive experience working on Pavee Point, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racism and the Migrants Rights Centre of Ireland amongst others, she shed much light on effective community engagement on a small budget, being inclusive of all on a local level and ensuring long-term change; key topics for us at this stage of the project.

Regarding how we approach the community, she emphasized the importance of authenticity. Being honest with our role, our background and why it is in the community’s interests are vital. We also need to be aware of what sort of change will happen, to avoid letting the community down. Being realistic about what we can achieve in the short time-frame, Anastasia questioned what level of impact do we wish to achieve, from the short-term local activities such as a street feast to a long-term change in thinking which requires fundamental shifts to occur. By setting realistic targets, we can create conditions for further long-term change to happen.

Anastasia drew our attention to how we can measure the impact of our work, stressing the importance of needing to be able to say what we did, what worked, what didn’t. We need to justify our work, advising us to set our own multi-dimensional framework for measuring success. She advised us to build on what already exists in the community – the linchpins, the support groups, the active members of the community. It is through these groups that long-term impact can be achieved. To engage these groupings, we need to grow projects that are in their interests and also create conditions for them to own the projects.

Anastasia provided the team with much food for thought, at this critical stage of the project, where effective community engagement is critical. Her advice was thought-provoking, reassuring and very astute. In the coming weeks as we begin testing projects in the area, Anastasia’s guidance will be essential in helping us ensure we communicate authentically with the community, find project champions and ensure the project’s create long-term change in the Market’s.

Week 18 – Open Day I and 100 ideas

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Last week, we held an Open Day in the Markets to hear from all of the stakeholders of the area where their needs lie and what they would love to see happen in the markets. The team are now working to compile, analyse and draw conclusions from each of these conversations. This process of distillation will help us understand what people are telling us, see clearly patterns arising and get to the root of the issue, need or desire. From these insights, we are pulling ideas that address the needs, can be prototyped and also have scale. Working to pull together 100 ideas, the team have been pushing to understand what can effect change in the Markets area, iterating the process a number of times to ensure no idea or need is left behind, as we move to narrow the 100 ideas down to 20 next week. It’s exciting times in the studio, as the research forms tangible ideas for the Markets area.