May 16, 2006

Common Knowledge Cultural Snapshot

Over the past two years of Social Tapestries we have been collaborating with Kevin Harris, first at the Community Development Foundation, and, since last summer, in his capacity as an independent community development consultant working as Local Level. Through Kevin we encountered Bev Carter of Partners in Change and were invited to work with the Havelock Independent Residents' Organisation (HIRO) to explore how our ideas and practices of public authoring – knowledge mapping and sharing – could make a difference at neighbourhood level.

Proboscis and Local Level began working with HIRO last July and Kevin has now written a Cultural Snapshot about what we have learnt of the issues and challenges facing local people.

Common Knowledge
Community development and communication on a housing estate

Residents striving to improve conditions on a low-income estate face a range of problems that are appropriate for collective action. But their ability to act collectively may be constrained by a range of factors. This essay offers an impressionistic view of conditions on the Havelock estate in Southall, west London, based on an assessment of the communication and information ecology.

The essay offers a snapshot of the physical conditions, low levels of social interaction, and ‘civic absence’ that characterises the neighbourhood. It notes the sense of weakening community presence in the face of unresponsive environmental services and a looming drugs threat. It attempts to explain why participation in community initiatives is sometimes very difficult to establish or sustain, and it contrasts this reactive, fragmentary style of urban life with the contemporary image of lively urban consumption.

Posted by Giles Lane at May 16, 2006 10:37 PM