In collaboration with Empty Shop CIC, Durham University and Beacon North East, Transition Durham held a week-long community mapping event from 11th – 18th June 2011, transforming an empty shop in the Gates Shopping Centre, Durham into a welcoming place to relax and chat about Durham’s potential futures.
The event, entitled ‘What? No Oil?’, used an interactive mapping activity as a focal point to encourage shop visitors to participate in a debate exploring how community action can turn economic instability caused by rising oil prices into an opportunity for positive change towards sustainable futures for Durham City and the surrounding area. Extensive outreach work was undertaken prior to the event to ensure widespread awareness of the project, and shop visitors were provided with a variety of means to participate, thus ensuring an inclusive approach. Over 350 written contributions were given by shop visitor’s, alongside innumerable contributions made via conversations with shop staff.
A recurring theme throughout the research indicated that people are particularly concerned about how we make the best of our existing space and resources and regenerate derelict or underused buildings and land. People are proud of Durham and its heritage, but feel that so much more could be made of it – the river, Wharton Park, public buildings, green spaces, empty shops and houses – everywhere could be more productive, bringing life to the city and its people, and increasing local resilience. This theme has been incorporated within all the following subsections, but deserves a special mention due to its importance in people’s imaginations. Shop visitors contributed hundreds of ideas over the course of the week, out of which 10 key themes emerged:
- Waste management
- Livelihoods, local business and economy
- People and Community
- Skills and Education