I don’t know about you, but I get really frustrated with the public consultations that I see in my home city. It’s always educated, professional consultants and academics asking articulate city centre users about how they’d like things to change. The questions are often loaded towards a particular social or political agenda, and responses are filed away in an over elaborate report to be revisited sometime in the future.
But what about people who don’t feel connected to their town or city centre? What about those who don’t have the confidence to articulate how they feel? Those intimidated by the thought of talking to an academic? Or those who feel that things will just get done to them anyway, so what’s the point in speaking up? And what’s the point in ‘blue sky’ consultancy without the means to test ideas in real life?
Through our various discussions with marginalised, vulnerable and isolated individuals, and through our own lived experience – we know that the above can be barriers to engagement that can be felt by millions of people living in towns and cities across the country.
So we were super excited to have won a competitive tender to rip up the rule books and try something different. Our client, Selby District Council, wants to understand what residents in their three largest towns (Selby, Sherburn and Tadcaster) feel about their area – specifically, what activities and events would they like to see to make their town a place to feel proud of, truly engaged in, and entertained? We’ll also be testing some of the residents ideas as pilot activities rather than unattainable masterplans that gather dust.
From my experiences, I’ve found that art is a truly accessible way to explore these questions with members of all communities. So we’ve recruited a new team of freelancers – a community artist, landscape architect and social media expert to help us engage, understand and interpret the thoughts, feelings and opinions of residents.
We’ve got some pretty exciting activities planned, and will report back as things develop.
If you’d like to commission Social Vision to consult your local community, please email firstname.lastname@example.org