Spreading joy with Urban Workbench in Sutton Way

Our nomadic learning hub & CNC manufacturing project, Urban Workbench, has been keeping busy in Sutton Way!

Urban Workbench Learning Programmes

Our Urban Workbench learning programme has been going from strength to strength recently - read about feedback from our participants and its positive impact on beneficiaries.

Our community engagement work recognised nationally

We Make Places have been recognised in a Special Report published by Local Authority Building & Maintenance Magazine for the unique community engagement and placemaking work we're currently delivering on behalf of ForHousing and Cheshire West & Chester Council in Sutton Way, Ellesmere Port.

Friends of the Flyover – Renewable Energy Scheme

Whilst the outcome from the structural investigations into the Churchill Way flyovers is awaited, we gave an update to a local newspaper about the proposals that the Friends of the Flyover have been working on for the space and what the uncertain future may hold.

Our CEO Kate Stewart said “We Make Places have always advocated for shared use of The Flyover and for its alternative use as public space if traffic is taken off The Flyover completely. The original Friends of the Flyover proposal was a response to a Council vision to redirect traffic away from the structure. Recent discoveries as part of the council’s statutory PTSI process have led to the current closure whilst more structural investigations take place.

It’s

#IWantSpace

Join our conversation about pubic space, how it gets used, who owns it & who pays for it and how we can make it better. Join the #IWantSPACE conversation on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook as well as this blog and help write a Citizens Manifesto for Public Space

Labels, Labels, Labels – thoughts from our CEO on creativity

Labels, labels, labels – something I have struggled with most of my life: a daughter, a wife, never a student, a stage manager, an entrepreneur, a producer, another wife, a mother, a patient, a different kind of daughter and usually… the boss! Lots of these are pretty lonely and unforgiving roles and I guess as a result, for years I have struggled with my self-identity beyond these labels. Maybe because none of them have felt chosen and maybe because they have all felt too limiting and I hope I am a much more multi-faceted person than any of them allow.

So, what is a Creative Producer and is this what I am? And would applying to be part of a 3-year programme which defines a group of people be helpful to me at this point in my life?

After years of shying away from any complements relating to my creativity – feeling much more comfortable to recognise measurable and provable skills – around my 50th birthday I decided to start accepting people’s definition of me as a creative, inspiring, even pioneering person.  I resolved to try and explore this definition more so that I could ‘grow into’ it and maybe start to realise my full potential. So my first venture was to apply for a ‘creative lab’ in Rio – that experience and the follow-on project started to help me see what others saw in my work. (read more about Rio Visivel in our previous blog)

But still, applying for the


A NEW KIND OF HERO

It is important that we retain public space in our towns and cities that small organisations and community groups as well as families and individuals can ‘programme’ and interpret over time. So much of our lives are spent working and living in buildings with poor quality light and air that the ability to be outdoors, to have space for thoughts, conversations and interactions that are not based on consumer transactions is vital to our well-being. Today we salute the bravery of the Hastings Pier Charity and their Architect dRMM in committing to open space and recognising the importance of space for citizens to occupy and make their own.

The Unkindest Cut

Unfortunately due to things outside of our control we have had to cancel the performances of Unkindest Cut this week, due to take place as part of Liverpool Mental Health Festival. All the partners are working to reschedule the workshop and performances for Spring/Summer of 2018 and we are really excited about the opportunity for young people to be involved in co-creating and for audiences to see the work.

Community Build at WECC

The day after The Maverick City symposium was an important one for We Make Places and West Everton Community Council……we had decided that this year, our symposium would give something back to one of the communities we work with in Liverpool.

We invited the speakers and the audience from The Maverick City to join us for a day of community building at WECC and during the weeks before we asked local businesses to donate pallets that we could strip and use to make furniture on site.

Our team was very international as it included most of our speakers and during the day a few of the audience joined in too.  We had people from Chicago, Rio, Latvia, Italy, The Netherlands and Liverpool involved.

It was one of the most moving projects we have worked on – at some point during the day everyone cried, with humility, compassion and joy.  This was about so many things…….individuals making new connections, learning new skills they could take back to their own communities, leaving a gift for a community that felt neglected and the rebirth of ambition and hope.

Read a couple of accounts of the day from participants below and have a look at some of our favourite photos.

Community Build project reflections by Chiara Organtini

On the Saturday we packed all our energy and headed as early birds to West Everton, where We Make Places recently opened a workshop to support their brand new Urban Workbench  project led Angelo Madonna, a multidisciplinary artist. This project  is a learning hub for communities and people  that can gain the skills and ability to reshape their own spaces by learning DIY skills and collaborative attitudes.

As I directly experienced, Urban Workbench is a way to empower people, enable the grass roots process of urban regeneration or the reclaiming of spaces by changing peoples thoughts, skills and the way they see things and relate to one another.

We spent the day at West Everton Community Council with a group of community members and stakeholders to make outdoor benches for their courtyard so to make the space alive, visible and enjoyable for elderly people, children and others visiting the centre.  West Everton Community Council is a resident led organisation that advocates for residents to ensure they have a voice at all levels, also identifying and responding to all issues that directly affect the  whole community.

While there, the community members told us about the story of the place and the recent fire that damaged part of the building and the story of Everton also in regards to the new project  in Great Homer Street (Project Jennifer) that will create a new hub of activity in North Liverpool and will act as a catalyst for the wider redevelopment of this part of the city. Their role as a community organisation is to ensure a balanced regeneration process where  bricks are not more important that people and where quality of life and community relationships are equally taken into account.

I felt enriched by the idea we could  give a small contribution to the improvement of the future of this valuable organisation.

The whole day was a collective creative workshop, teaming up according to tasks and projects in-between excitement, release of energies and ideas, frustrations also for not being perfectly able to do all the work. This doing affected of course also my thinking and I realized the importance of creating infrastructure for participation, leaving spaces for the people, and giving tools to people to make their own spaces.

 

During the day I found my self hammering, sawing, breaking pallets: I wanted to achieve results without knowing how, I wanted to get the final result without observing listening to the shape of the object the material and the group as I was so anxious to make a big contribution to this community centre.

 

Then I started to be more in flow, streaming with the group, listening and observing what was around me and in the object we were creating. This adjustable navigation is indeed one of the principles I try to apply in my daily work in project management and this level of openness is crucial to inject oxygen and keep our action alive and in tune with the surrounding situation. Making together is really a way to reset minds and bodies, shifting the focus on a common goal, sharing reponsibilities and forgetting our egos and assumptions: we entered a land where collaboration, creativity and reactions where the keywords and a perfect receipt for new ideas.

 

This afternoon, besides giving new benches to the community,  above all gave me confidence and changed how I think about me and the possibility I have to impact being a reflective practicionner, acting thinking and adjusting the navigation beyond the simple planning.

Afterwards

My experience in Liverpool still resonates in my body and in my head, and is more a patchwork of diverse areas of the city that speak about a complexity that merge opposites stories from gentrification to regeneration. But above all I still have a gallery of voices and faces that feed me with inspirations: Kate makes magic happen, she creates a perfect mix of people and then let the process goes.

There is a precise moment I remember: when I was taught how to use a handsaw; in that movement I felt like I was playing the violin, not as gently as Tiago does but in the effort of learning: in that moment it was like I was cutting away my fears and the limits I imposed myself.

Some people are like stars: what keeps them alive is the balance between the energy they get while releasing their own light.

Plywood with Soul

Plywood with Soul is about co-creating livable spaces & transforming bare accommodation into a home or making community spaces usable on a limited budget using CNC technology. Steve's residency in Madrid produced our first solutions in this ongoing project

The Mavericks are Coming – RIP Regeneration

We've decided the time has come to stop ONLY talking (we are great fans of talking, we do it a lot with our clients) and start DOING

Would you like to hear more? Would you like to join us?

We have proposed a research project to a prominent funder and whatever they say, we think this needs doing and needs doing soon...........

The Maverick City 2017

We've just finished 2017's version of The Maverick City, so here's a quick round up - including a write up by one of the participants

Artist Provocateur Proposals

Our Artist Provocateur project commissioned 4 proposals for our future cultural programme - we are now working to secure funding to deliver them

Building a collaboratively creative city

New Start Magazine recently came to Liverpool and interviewed us as part of their feature on the city. Editor Clare Goff also asked for blog posts from Kate and Toria and here is the one that Kate wrote about her vision for Liverpool as a Collaboratively Creative City:

Flyover Takeover Film

We have condensed more than 35 hours of community workshops, performances, installations and general good fun up above our city during Flyover Takeover Summer 2016 into around 90 seconds of film footage....