‘There isn’t a person in the world who isn’t interested in the place they live in.’ Allan Bosley, former chair of Corsham Community Operations Board and Wiltshire Forum of Community Area Partnerships.
Localism is inherently grounded and specific. It understands that public services are not delivered or designed in a vacuum, but happen in real places. Each place – each village, town and city – is in some way distinctive. Understanding that difference, however subtle it might be, can be critical in either agreeing policies, services or interventions that go with the grain of people’s lives or imposing policies that inadvertently miss their mark.
Public service leaders and professionals face a double challenge in working better at the level of place. Firstly, they need to get better at seeing places through the eyes of those who live and work there – or in the terms of one of our projects in Wiltshire, learning to walk in other people’s shoes. Secondly, and just as importantly, they have a role in helping the different communities within a place to connect with each other’s perspectives. Stronger social connectivity makes a community more adaptable, better able to draw on different resources to thrive through change.
In Wiltshire, the town of Corsham was planning a major new public service ‘campus’ away from the high street, while at the same time looking at the prospect of significant expansion, new industries and new people. The Pass it On arts commission was an opportunity for different generations, towns people and villagers, professionals and residents to map the place(s) they saw and valued.
Highlights from the 'Felt Local' workshop, July 2015
How are culture and arts embedded in local identity? Our one-day 'Felt Local' event held at the RSA in July 2015 explored the importance of creative place based approaches.