A network to rethink and revitalise town centres and high streets
The Portas Review made a number of recommendations for changes at government level to promote our town centres as lively, thriving and economically successful places. But for government action to be effective it needs to learn from and be inspired by local action.
There are many imaginative, enterprising people taking action across the UK to bring life back to our town centres. However there are few forums that bring them together in an informal environment where they can exchange experiences and experiment with new ideas. That’s what High Street Camp is about.
High Street Camp takes its model from the ‘unconference’ or ‘BarCamp’ format popular in the technology world, where developers get together to share and test new applications. There are now BarCamps for local and central government, for the built environment, for individual cities and much more. Many of these have a technological bias but organisers increasingly recognise that it’s the application of technology in the real world, not just the development, that’s of wider interest.
High Street Camp aims to use the BarCamp environment as a way of bringing together people who are developing new ideas for town centres - from different approaches to shopping to rethinking town centres as green places, business hubs, learning environments and much more - including, of course, new applications of technology. High Street Camp is for anyone with an interest in successful town centres, whether you’re from local government, retail, property management or community organisations. Technophobes are welcome.
The purpose of High Street Camp is to share and record new thinking and inspire people to take action. The emphasis is on discussion and generating ideas, not on hearing speeches. People can choose the subjects they’re interested in, and at the end of the day groups come together to present the results of their discussions so everyone knows what’s been discussed.
The other thing that’s important about High Street Camp is that the presentations are reported and recorded so others can find out what’s happened. There will be discussions via social media, from LinkedIn to Twitter and Facebook, and we would encourage people who come along to blog their thoughts and ideas - the aim is to share them as widely as possible. We’ll aim to bring these all together on a website linking to the material produced at the event and attendees’ own blogs and websites.
If you’d like to help make this happen or just want to be kept informed, please keep in touch. While High Street Camp will run on a shoestring, it will need some practical resources: food and drink, a venue, wifi, flipcharts, reporters and more.
High Street Camp is being organised by the group that submitted the ‘21st Century Agora’ proposals to the Portas Review, with the help of others who identify with its vision of multifunctional, people-powered town centres. Details will be posted on the Revive Our Town Centres network and elsewhere as they develop.
We’re working towards a date in late April or early May for a one-day event, and we’re looking for a central London venue. For more information and to join in, contact Julian Dobson via this forum or email julianATurbanpollinators.co.uk
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