A network to rethink and revitalise town centres and high streets
Cllr Andrew Malloy (Knutsford) tweeted today “Wasn't #RT4Towns great yesterday? Lots of chat around the country, well done”…
The first RT4Towns day launched Yesterday, March 8th 2012. As the councillor tweeted, residents and practitioners chatted, swapped stories, ideas, prejudices and shared with each other the best of the towns and cities, across the UK, where they live and work. Mark and I tracked tweets from residents in around 120 or so towns and noticed multiple conversations that fell outside the any monitoring we can do on twitter. Residents and practitioners were engaged in debate about there own particular places and sharing ideas and examples with other towns across the UK.
“New Alresford is the best for over 50 indy Shops, all in a beautiful Georgian Market Town #Alresford”
A typical tweet from yesterday.
RT4Towns came about on the back of the Portas review and a combination of our understanding of social media, frustration with negative reporting our town centres; “the end is nigh for High Streets” etc, and a belief that there are great ideas, creativity, and innovation in all towns across the UK and perhaps it was time to see if people were willing to share with others. We believe that the greatest resource a place has is its residents, they have great skills, knowledge, experience, networks and are almost with out fail attached to where they live. RT4Towns day was conceived to help residents to say something good about where they lived, and more importantly to tell others what is unique and successful about where they live and work.
I now know a great deal about Wolverhampton, Diss, Knutsford, Ashford, Buxton, Merthyr, Bedale, Cheadle and where I can go wine tasting in a Deli, get free water, and watch great independent cinema. There was so much more… so many places to learn from.
We also saw Tweets such as:
“Still 3/4 of an hour left to say how scared we are about losing one of the last traditional market towns in England. #rt4towns @saveHatherleigh”
So debate was ranging between the good and the challenging and to cries of help. A common theme running through Tweets detailing residents concerns, was “what’s gone wrong and who’s going to put it right” – “Why does Margate seem to get it so wrong? Thriving once upon a time. Dying now. Will rebranding work?#rt4towns”
Mark and I could track any Tweets that included the hashtag #rt4towns, so we have a fair idea of the general questions, statement and numbers of towns participating, however what began to evolve in the early afternoon and carried on through the rest of the day was the conversations people were having “elsewhere” in the twittersphere. We were shown only tantalising glimpses as people began to twitter late last evening that they had had conversations with “60 towns” or “debated with blah, blah and blah.” So we can only extrapolate from these tweets that so many more people and places were involved than Mark and I can report. I guess we will continue to have conversations with people involved and get to gather more information over the next few weeks.
Finally you always wish for a little serendipity when running any event and so Mark and I were delighted to discover that the first ATCM Portas Pilots workshop was running in Solihull on the same day – nice synchronicity and great cross-tweeting. Of course running the event on March 8th also meant that no one in Leicester participated as they were all out to see the Queen.
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