Let’s not waste open spaces and community assets!

by johngarghan

The Social Inclusion Process Green Paper also focuses on the development of more open spaces and community assets, which are part of commitment 4.3 – connect people and places.

In Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s report ‘The social value of public spaces’ identified that there are six key features to successful social spaces, based on a study in 2005. These are:

  • access and availability – good physical access, welcoming spaces and extended opening hours;
  • invitations by peers and others – embedded in social networks to encourage use;
  • exchange-based relationships – moving beyond consumerism to participation in the exchange of goods and services;
  • choreography of spaces by discreet good management while also leaving room for self organisation;
  • moving beyond mono-cultures – encouraging diverse groups and activities to share common spaces; and
  • avoiding over-regulation of design and space, as security and well-being are more likely to grow out of active use.

Other examples include:

  • Urban communities in Scotland could be given powers that would allow them to take over unused land and grow crops, flowers or plant trees. The “community right to grow” is among ideas contained in the Scottish governments proposed Community Empowerment and Renewal Bill. Communities could also take ownership of underused public sector buildings breathing new life into them.
  • On the over side of the globe, Texan Urban Harvest’s programs thrives due committed staff and many talented volunteers; and not to mention a better climate. However, volunteering is an excellent way to support community gardening, our farmers markets and educational programs. Opportunities include individual projects, team work on volunteer committees, short term and long term positions with varying levels of responsibility and training.
  • Not too far away is London’s own City Harvest, which is another initiative showing the benefits associated with urban agriculture with hopes of sweeping across the UK. The website focuses specifically on the benefits in five categories of current political and social interest:

Addressing antisocial behaviour and decreasing isolation.

Improving urban environment, increasing biodiversity, and reducing the environmental impact of food production and food miles.

Providing training, skills development and job opportunities.

Improving mental and physical health.

Addressing poverty, strengthening green infrastructure, and helping communities to trade amongst each other.

Why not share what’s happening here in Birmingham ‘We’re doing it’ also tell us whether the recommendation is right, while you’ve  still got time!

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