The Feeling of a Place

A Notwestminster 2017 workshop from David Moynihan and Emma Nielsen

Notwestminster workshops ident

Breaking from the traditional workshop format, this session will involve a psycho-geographic exploration – a walk – of a local neighbourhood near the event location. We will stop at points on our walk to discuss our collective sentiments in relation to the built or nature environment we come across – whether we feel positive or negative about each place, how those feelings might differ for other groups of people.

Often weaknesses in democracy are most evident where the built environment around us is not reflective of our needs and wants. Our walk will reflect on this, while also aiming to building up a collective understanding of divergent experiences. We will imagine what a better built environment might look like – how it can better reflect current and future needs and wants.

We will then reconvene at the event location to discuss the walk and our experiences of it – and how we can use tools (such as the internet of things) to capture citizens’ feelings and ideas in relation to the built environment.

The lived experiences of citizens (and well as their expertise and skills) are an incredible asset to shaping our built environment and service planning decisions, but this has traditionally been overlooked. This workshop will help build up a shared understanding of how citizens interact with their built environment and will generate some ideas about how we can capture this and channel it into better decision making.



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David Moynihan

David Moynihan
Social Life

David joined Social Life in April 2016 as Director of Projects. Recently, he has been undertaking development work on some technology-based approaches to supporting community profiling and citizen engagement. He has previously designed and delivered several area based regeneration programmes and established a network of community-based job brokerage organisations to link candidates to 2012 Games vacancies in partnership with the Olympic Delivery Authority. In the past 10 years, he also founded and led four successful ventures, including a consultancy business, an art gallery, a music label and a community arts collective, which all continue to prosper.

David and his colleagues are currently working with Urban Realities Laboratory (headed by Colin Ellard) to borrow their methodology, deployed internationally, to measure our emotional response to the built environment.

This walk in Huddersfield, together with a series of other walks Social Life are doing in south London as part of the Unusual Suspects Festival in April 2017, will explore these themes.


emma-260Emma Nielsen
Social Life

Emma works on a range of projects for Social Life, including resident engagement on Woodberry Downs and Grahame Park Estate. She also worked on benchmarking of the area around the Somerleyton Road development in Brixton and co-developed Social Life’s Atlas of Social Maps. Her interests include social sustainability, psychogeography, public spaces and inclusion. She has been involved in community work in Denmark and the UK and is currently working with the Wayside Community Centre in Hackney and Hackney Winter Night Shelter.



Kirklees Democracy Commission
Kirklees Democracy Commission

All our Notwestminster 2017 workshops are based on themes that have been inspired by discussions with citizens, as part of the Kirklees Democracy Commission.

This workshop is inspired by…

Making democracy part of everyday life



Notwestminster 2017 workshops list