A Notwestminster 2020 workshop hosted by Helen Graham
How can a local area’s past be used as a resource for collaboratively and democratically shaping its future? In this workshop, we will explore techniques for using the past – and its difference from today – to open up an accessible and critical space for local democratic debate.
We’ll be sharing and reflecting on techniques for using old photos, archive material, the historic environment and museum objects in ways that help us respond to urgent issues that local councils are grappling with today (such as traffic congestion, regeneration and the climate crisis).
Our local heritage can offer citizens a different way into local democracy. Using our heritage can also help us to value different ways of knowing and different ways of contributing.
The workshop will include some examples of work done in York, which show how different heritage resources can be used to open up and sustain inclusive conversations for meaningful change.
About the workshop host
University of Leeds & My Future York
Helen teaches heritage studies at the University of Leeds. She has run collaborative research projects asking questions about how to democratise heritage, like: ‘How should decisions about heritage be made?’ This has led to a wider interest in public participation in local democracy and to a long-term collaboration with Phil Bixby in York (My Future York). In collaboration with City of York Council, we have been experimenting with ways of approaching citizen involvement through two large regeneration projects: My Castle Gateway and My York Central… with heritage playing a key role in both!
How to get involved
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Big hearts and open minds
Our kind of democracy is human-scale. When we talk about local democracy, we mean the democracy that happens where we are, in our neighbourhoods and the places that we know. It is the democracy that we live and breathe, each and every day. It only lives when we have our hearts in it, and it only grows when we are open to thinking and doing in different ways.
So if you’re open to our local democracy being what we want it to be, and if you’re up for the challenge of doing something to help make it happen, please join us at Notwestminster.