American sociologist Oldenburg was one of the first to recognise the role of places such as coffee shops, bookstores, pubs, and hairdressing salons as spaces for socialising and building community. He referred to them as third spaces: un- planned places, beyond work and home, where unrelated people could connect.
It is not surprising then that when I talk to people about the precinct they often comment on how much they enjoy the local coffee shops, bookstores and pubs.
But what’s been exciting for me is the discovery of groups of local residents initiating their own cultural activities across such spaces. One such remarkable cluster of local citizens is the Kensington Arts Group. Formed over six months ago by Kensington residents, they have developed a unique arts program including music and literature evenings in the local pubs, and sustainable visual arts projects in collaboration with local schools – an extraordinary feast of cultural activities for the enjoyment of everyone in and around Kensington.
Such community driven initiatives are I think a reflection of a different kind of citizenship in action – an inspiring form of artistic citizenship – one that uses the arts as the vehicle for building community and affirming our humanity. I look forward to more developments like this.
Teresa Crea Lead Creative
Creativity is good for us – as individuals it makes us well and happy, as a society it strengthens equity and security, as a community it builds resilience, cohesion and has the potential to build an economy that is sustainably progressive and exponentially prosperous.
This is the founding philosophy of the Kensington Arts Group; an intentional, collective community effort, to bring art and creativity to life in Kensington; to bring the community together and make it a better place to live.
In October 2010, a couple of neighbour’s letter dropped the neighbourhood and called a community meeting. Ten people turned up and called themselves the Kensington arts group. Since then there have been a music night and a poetry evening in the local pubs, a month long gates festival involving local schools, kindy’s and residents, a secular walking Christmas carol singing night and a film screening night at the local Norwood pool.
The Kensi arts group is strongly supported by the Kensington Residents Association – which also provides the valuable framework and capacity for other similar ‘by the people’ initiatives.
Whilst we busy ourselves in being prosperous, our elderly are often left to feel redundant, our young can have little connection to their local community, and our sense of place is often strongest where we work, not where we live. This is about actively challenging those things.
It’s not about the interests of one particular person or group – it’s about creating a platform and opportunities to harness the individual creativity of all residents, young and old, local school students and families, local artists and local businesses, through art and creative initiatives. The group reflects diversity of age, experience, perspective and interest and there is a genuine effort to incorporate those varied talents to achieve something satisfying for both community and participants.
The Kensi arts group is about creating a platform for the local community, by the local community, to come together to share something.
Trish Hansen, Kensi Art Group
It was only a few weeks ago that I return from London, thinking about all the wonderful things I had seen and how they might relate to City of Norwood Payneham & St Peters; ideas about place making and the notion of community building (things for the next blog instalment). Then just over a week ago, Britain and particularly London was gripped by social anarchy and I start thinking how on earth did this happen.
At the end of July, I was in Dalston and Hackney, soaking up a vibrant and emerging community spirit. Self-assured, adaptive and expressing a local sense of community that brought together all walks of life. The regeneration of Dalston appeared to be springing up everywhere, almost as an antidote to the hard economic times that are gripping the country. Local people (the tax payers) are now deciding how Council’s limited budgets should be spent. They, not Council, are deciding what is important and in the case of Dalston, the community have started with their open spaces, pocket parks and community gardens – places that they valued.
So how could the riots happen, when this community was starting to thrive? How could things change so quickly and what were the causes. Last week, I started to understand some of the reasons.
I wish I’d been in Minto for this
June 22, 2011 | Categories: ART, Cities, communication, Community, Connection, ephemeral, Guests, Lisa Harms, oral histories, OTHER CITIES, Public Spaces, Renewal, Socialising, soft voices in quiet corners, thinking through the city | Leave A Comment »
Some might find this statement provocative, worrying or just mad; but when I was growing up in the late sixties that’s exactly what my parents used to encourage me to do. As a child, most days were spent after school playing in the street, learning to ride my bike, kicking the football, playing chasey or just hanging-out sitting on the curbside chatting to friends and other members of the community.
Somewhere between then and now the role of the road within our cities has changed significantly. I can’t tell you when, but the increased need for safety and security and the risks associated with the interaction of vehicles and pedestrians has become so absolute that there is a perception that absolute separation is now required for all our roads.
While the risks and dangers associated with roads remain very real, should these risks warrant the sterilisation of large tracks of land within in our cities, towns and suburbs?
“I like The Parade because it’s the closest thing in Adelaide to living in a European City. You can enjoy your coffee against a backdrop of wonderfully diverse people, cafes , fashion and other stores with the town hall clock chiming the time away on the hour.” Rosanna Busolin
“I like the shopping, easy parking and out in the street there is a good atmosphere – it has everything and then some ! “ Norwood Worker
“It’s pretty cosmopolitan. We’ve got a mix of everyone! We can cater to lot’s of different types of people instead of one stereotype. My kids go to school around here. I wouldn’t change a thing.” Iolanda Scaife owner ‘Galleria 131’ on the Parade
The recent street Festival was a great idea. Interesting to note the varying reactions to kids playing in public spaces – normally regarded with some ‘parental’ disdain and dangerous because of traffic. Perhaps some thought could be given to art and cultural activities specifically for kids – special occasions with a ‘playpen’ of sorts that can be re-created or moved to different sites and coordinated with other special Parade events – and by this I don’t mean inflatable castles!
This would also provide excellent child-minding support as well as catering to inter-cultural exchanges and socialising activities – a skilled person or two could be ‘borrowed’ for the events or a permanent-part-time professional could facilitate the games and activites. A good way of providing new entry points for perhaps the most recent of residents.
P.Haus, Visitor to the Parade Food & Wine Fair