Yourtopia: What makes a neighbourhood?
The project sought to engage people from three local areas in Camden to discuss the past, present and future of their communities. The aim was to draw this together with events and exhibitions that could be shared with a wider audience.
The library team worked with the Department of Culture at UCL.
For researchers, working on the project assisted them in working towards achieving the aims of the Urban Studies Department, mainly by means of introducing them to practical examples of contemporary urban development. The team recognised that it constituted a genuine, well-resourced initiative to engage with communities on their doorstep and to forge a constructive partnership with libraries.
The project ran walking tours around the Camden area to facilitate residents sharing stories about their place. Residents were filmed telling their stories, and these films were put together to form an interactive web experience where you can explore the videos plotted on a map of Camden (see further information).
The team ran launch events for the participants and for academics interested in the project. They hope to publish a hard copy map, book and to create an exhibition going forward.
This project underlined the role of public libraries in their communities, as being social connectors, and places where stories are gathered and narratives shared. It also highlighted the importance of place to people and communities, and the way in which libraries are grounded in the physical place that they are located, as well as having opportunities to connect more widely such as online.
The project shows the potential for libraries and universities to work together in creative ways that are meaningful for the community. The work enabled new connections across the various parties, and hopes to open up connections between residents, community organisations and academics now that the website is live.
The library team learned about the positive impact of working with external partners and the support and help that these partners could give. They also became more familiar with voluntary organisations in their area. The team enjoyed working with the partners at UCL, Martine and Richard, and were keen that the current project would not be the end of the line.
Staff also reflected on gaining a fresh perspective on their borough (many of whom had lived in Camden for many years). They also felt more confident about communicating the value of the library service and making it visible.
Richard DeDomenici (Artist)