the grit of grassroots in glasgow

I described my time at Speirs Locks as a ‘day with a difference’. So what was different about it? Well, I spent the first half of my day in an old glue factory which was inspiring despite being freezing. I then ‘toured a site’ with an architect, something I have never done before. I spent the second half of my day in Scottish Opera, after a behind the scenes tour –  a place I would never typically find myself and I played a beautiful grand piano at the coffee break – something I would love to do every single day but rarely get the chance to…

I was part of this day as a result of the work David Barrie is carrying out as part of an innovative collaboration between Architecture Design Scotland and creative organisations based in the Speirs Lock Area of North Glasgow.

David invited Snook to be part of an international workshop into urban regeneration through culture.  The purpose of this work at Speirs Locks is to provide a framework and implementable plan that identifies what forward uses and actions should be promoted that will help Speirs Locks become a world class creative neighbourhood.

As the appointed ‘visualiser’ I spent the best part of the day listening and translating what I could hear into pictures. You can click the picture below and zoom in to get a flavour of the discussions.

I was also the ‘voice of social innovation’ (as David put it ) which was interesting as the majority of the people there were from architecture, arts, performance, planning, regeneration etc and I believe social innovation and motivation has a key role to play in any venture involving communities.

Things got really interesting when Adam, a member of the community, joined us and the conversation turned to the grits of grassroots and how we could make the most of what is already there. I asked the group to think about what we could all go and do tomorrow, that requires no funding or framework, just a thing, anything, we can do to engage with the people who live here…

The group split up into teams ; ‘Wouldn’t it be brilliant if?’ | Touchpoints | Whales and Plankton | -Ing the thing | to explore this notion of growing the people and then growing the place whilst thinking practically and economically. The ideas that appealed to me the most were:

  • A ‘social kitchen’ where people go to share food, learn how to cook and prepare food and eat together.
  • A ‘geek on a bike’ who wears black baggy trousers who can come and set up skype for you or sign you up to twitter.
  • A ‘grant writer’ ( inspired by John’s experience of people who sit on the side of the road in India and type letters for people on their typewriters – and something I experimented with myself in St.Andrews )

As always, the day ended with lots of questions needing answered;

* What are the demographics of the future community?
* What will be the educational requirements of that community?
* What jobs will be offered by the site?
* What are the health and well-being needs of the future community?
* How will the site contribute to and express urban identity and civic pride?
* How do people socially interact on site?
* What are the opportunities on offer for independent business?
* What are the aspirations for micro-enterprises?
* How will neighbouring communities feel that the site is beneficial to their area?
* How will the site support the generation of new creative and social networks and enterprise?
* What opportunities will the site offer for personal development?
* What shopping facilities will it offer?

And last but not least, I made new friends : Tom Beardshaw Laura Mc Naught Gary Watt , Mhari McMullan and caught up with old ones. Definitely a day with a difference.

Photos from Tom Beardshaw