Cervezeros crafting “better places”

As well as having an interest in how different places pulse, I also love following the craft beer movement, whether that’s here in Barcelona/Catalunya/Spain/Iberia/the Med, or further beyond. So my interest leapt when I read of the marriage of both:

Modern Times exists to make extraordinary beer. But it’s also an actor in the life of this city. It has a responsibility to shape its own environment, to constructively engage with the city upon which it relies. One of the ways it will do that is by helping to transform San Diego into a better, more liv[e]able place.

The wonder of the Internet returns…  I have found a kindred spirit way out west in California!

Read Transforming San Diego if you think the liquid poetry and social catalyst of good beer can have anything to do with shaping better places to live in and better places to visit. And please comment here on what you see as the real and possible connections between the two.


Sensing outstanding natural beauty

The remarkable CoaST team and people at Tamar Valley bring on sense of place to better appreciate the value of this AONB (Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, in Britain) and hopefully draw appreciative visitors to the area too.

For illumination visit www.coastproject.co.uk/theland/tamarvalleyasenseofplace.


Where white elephants roam amid “modern ruins”

A year or so ago a friend took me through the Marina d’Or development near Orpesa in Valencia.  Slowly driving up and down the deserted avenues of high-rise holiday apartments, I experienced a peculiar mixture of awe and aversion.  Never mind the environment, or local people’s interests, or indeed the cultural heritage that this place might once have afforded, here was economically irresponsible tourism development—grossly misjudged speculation—and it was staring me in the face.  It was ghostly, sickly, tacky and surreal.  (And Castellón airport lay redundant just miles away, and along with it, millions of Euros of public investment.)

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Cultivating connections between the young and “old land”

News from Kangaroo Valley, New South Wales (Australia), of an initiative that will actively seek to cultivate sense of place, particularly among the young.  Run as a World Responsible Tourism Day activity, it will seek to foster connectiveness to nature using Aboriginal belief systems.

Organiser, Christopher Warren, writes “research confirms that individuals who have pro-environmental values also hold a strong connectivity to nature, and are frequently positive thinkers. Methods [therefore] need to be found to build connectivity to nature which in turn can influence pro-environmental social practice and behaviour”.

To achieve this highly intangible yet very valuable prize, Chris and his colleagues at a local school and in an aboriginal community will try “to determine if elements of traditional environmental care can be transferred to school children [to] successfully build pro-environmental values through connection”.

The 2012 World Responsible Tourism Day marks just the start of this very local action–the activity will run for at least a year and seek to engage youngsters through workbooks, encounters, reflections and story-writing.  To find out how this progresses, and perhaps contribute your ideas and moral support, follow Chris and colleagues here.


Sense of development

Dominant transport modes have a major effect on sense of place and other ways we experience and imagine urban places. They can both energise and afflict a place; both clutter and adorn a place with their concomitant infrastructures. Just think of cycle taxis and tuk-tuks in Indian and South East Asian cities, gridlock in LA, civilised cycling in Amsterdam, or commuters flooding off trains and metro services in London and Tokyo before scurrying away into their studios and offices. Picture the absence of cars in mediaeval market towns, or in the plazas of world heritage hotspots. Perhaps ancient tram wheels squeal out their steely call a couple of streets away. Or maybe a modern tram glides into view.

So, here’s a “thought for the day” from someone who has the responsibility of overseeing transportation as well as the social, economic and cultural life, environment and reputation of his city. Gustavo Petro:


Te Awa Tupua

News of an astonishing agreement that recognises the status of a river in New Zealand as Te Awa Tupua, i.e. “an integrated, living whole”.  New Zealand’s Minister for Treaty for Waitangi Negotiations, Christopher Finlayson stated:

Under the settlement, the river is regarded as a protected entity, under an arrangement in which representatives from both the iwi and the national government will serve as legal custodians towards the Whanganui’s best interests.

Adding:

Whanganui iwi also recognise the value others place on the river and wanted to ensure that all stakeholders and the river community as a whole are actively engaged in developing the long-term future of the river and ensuring its wellbeing.

File:Whanganui River.jpg

The Whanganui River on the North Island of New Zealand

(photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/CC BY 2.0)
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How to build community

How to build community

“A community exists when people interact with each other, not just with you”: an infographic stumbled upon at Deskmag, a coworking magazine.


A particular place in the land…

A particular place in the land is never, for an oral culture, just a passive or inert setting for the human events that occur there. It is an active participant in those occurrences. Indeed, by virtue of its underlying and enveloping presence, the place may even be felt to be the source, the primary power that expresses itself through the various events that unfold there.

David Abram, The Spell of the Sensuous, 1997.

From Quotes That Prompt Creative Action at powersofplace.com.


Places not destinations: a conscious shift with thinkers and followers

A previous post called for conversations on places rather than destinations.

A number of voices and sources can be drawn on to support the case against places that are contrived, often from elsewhere (i.e. destinations), and in favour of places that are enabled to flourish from within (richly textured and distinctive places; places with integrity).

Greg Richards and Julie Wilson, for example, suggest that creating places as products for their marketing as destinations is of limited value, as it can often lead to the serial reproduction of culture (Richards & Wilson, 2005).

Similarly, Chris Murray concludes that “the notion of designing identities for places should be rejected as in the end it leads to disaffection (…) and there is insufficient evidence that it works” (Murray, 2001: 73).   He proposes that a more appropriate process is to identify and build on distinctive local cultural resources for successful place branding and marketing.

Anna Pollock’s framework on conscious travel indicates a similar shift from product-led thinking, which sees destinations treated as products, albeit complex ones, by their marketers and some “been-there-done-that” consumers, towards concerning ourselves with “people and place”:

Instead of discounting their primary asset – the Place – [conscious travel advocates] focus on protecting, expressing and celebrating its unique Personality to sustain and increase its value to guests.


Trade-offs in “capital public spaces”

A piece in The Economist pitches New York against London in terms of progress on “bettering” public spaces.  More usefully, it provides an overview of some of the key dynamics shaping today’s “capital public spaces” as well as people’s relationships with them, i.e.:

  • continued pedestrianisation and trading off visitor (tourist) interests against the interests of car-dependent or business-owning locals;
  • the insidious privatisation of public space;
  • place-making changes shaped by commercial motives, not community needs and sentiments;
  • the forces of power and control shaping public space.

Decent public space became an economic necessity.

For the washed, who quite like shopping and safety, such space is a great deal better than nothing.

The problem comes down to governance. While New York’s mayor is all-powerful, London’s shares power with 32 boroughs, which often have conflicting agendas.