Love Easton approached The Glass-House prior to embarking on a month-long consultation project aimed at creating a community-driven vision for Easton, located in Bristol. We supported them by leading an explorative workshop in community engagement.
Project date 2009
A broad variety of ethnic groups live in Easton and the area has several streets with good local shops and services, but a large number of unused shops . An increasing pressure for new build and re-development of Easton was occurring due to its proximity to the city centre, and a group of residents met monthly to comment on planning applications in the area.
The Love Easton group aimed to take an active interest in the future of the area, and was developing a vision for Easton based on community needs. The hope was that these discussions would feed into any future developments in the area.
Shankari ‘Shanks’ Raj of Nudge Group contacted The Glass-House to help shape and develop a community driven vision for Easton. The Love Easton group were looking for input on how to involve the community in a variety of ways: how their proposed regeneration document would fit in with Bristol Council policy and comments on their engagement, and the resulting document and exhibition.
Six students from Sheffield University worked with the group to develop and run the engagement activities, and to develop the final document and exhibition setting forth a vision for Easton. The exhibition was initially hosted by the Bristol Architecture Centre and has since been shown in other venues in Easton.
The Glass-House visited Love Easton in the early stages of their month-long community engagement process, to discuss the types of consultation that were planned, and to act as a sounding board for the group. After the consultation period, The Glass-House held a brief workshop to help the group pull together the key points that were raised while engaging with the community. The group worked in sub-groups to explore any issues raised and actions needed and brought these together to set out a way forward.
Students from Sheffield University Architecture Department worked alongside community members on the project, using their technical expertise in the fields of Urban Design, Regeneration, Master-Planning and Community Consultation. During this time an intensive consultation process was undertaken, allowing residents to share their stories and experiences of the area and helping to create a shared vision of the future of Easton.
The consultation process and workshop were the first of many steps in the direction of a community-based vision and plan for Easton.
“The project ran for two months and was successful due to the collaboration and help from Sheffield University to make it all happen.” – Shanks at Nudge Group
One of the many ideas generated from the project that materialised was the M32 Skatepark, which is a concrete and timber DIY skatepark located under the M32. The space started off as a neglected space underneath the M32 Motorway in Eastville, Bristol, yet people from the community used this space, especially skateboarders. Although this idea came about during this project timeline, it was delivered by another collective. You can find more in-depth information here.
The M32 Flea Market also stemmed from the initial community engagement. The market was founded by LitterARTI – A local arts organisation working with communities facing social and environmental neglect. The collective helps bring economic growth to local traders and creativity to areas as well.
The objectives of the project included featuring a dynamic process, new ways of talking, working, and mapping, and of course creating a shared vision.
A large variety of engagement techniques were used during this project, which led to the opening of the Love Easton cafe on Stapleton Road. The space was used as a base for workshops, meetings and events and as a go-to point for those who wanted to share their thoughts and feelings on Easton.
After further work the group decided to open a cafe as food was a key tool of the community engagement process, bringing together an array of different groups from varying backgrounds and allowing residents to mingle and be introduced to each other without the need to form close-knit relationships.
The ‘Cafe’ acts as a hub for the local community, and can be used as a venue to hold events which bring members of the community together for discussions alongside the opportunity to drop in, share opinions and keep in touch with developments in the area. This is a new concept within the community and offers alternatives to the usual planning consultation processes.
One of the events held at the ‘Cafe’ was a workshop for South-Asian women, where around 30 women joined the event. A discussion was held followed by food, and all the attendants brought a dish to share. Integration, safety and cleanliness were the main themes to be raised amongst the attendees of the event.
You can find more information about the outcome of the Love Easton workshops in the project report that can be found here.
Watch a video interviewing residents about why they love Easton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dXHwlEodBiU
Other Glass-House stories
Live projects through EDP: The Empowering Design Practices team and Masters students from the University of Sheffield’s School of Architecture worked with community clients in real time with real budgets, on socially-engaged projects.
The Gateway – The Ravenscliffe Community Centre: The Glass-House supported The Ravenscliffe Community Association (RCA) to articulate their project vision for a new multi-purpose community centre.