Peterborough blueprint to lead the world?

Peterborough could be a blueprint for the rest of the world to follow if an ambitious project to create a new kind of community in the city is successful.

After months of research, the national think tank RSA (the Royal Society of Arts) have launched a plan to try and encourage a greater sense of belonging to the city after years of rapid change.

Chief Executive Matthew Thompson says we all need to start loving Peterborough:

"The question of how people feel about the place that they live isn't a kind of luxury...it's absolutely crucial to whether or not Peterborough succeeds.

"That's why we think this project is so exciting - it's taking this question of identity, and attachment, and citizenship, and saying this is vital to the success of the city."

The project is aiming to work out a way of responding to economic, environmental and social changes whilst building a stronger and more engaged sense of community.

In partnership with Peterborough City Council and the Arts Council for the East of England, RSA are setting up a range of schemes here - from arts and environmental projects to programmes in schools and drug treatment centres.

Matthew says it is about trying to get us engaged with the city:

"What kinds of people do the people of Peterborough need to be to create the kind of Peterborough they want to live in?...

"The future depends on how we as citizens behave - we all know for example over the next few years there will be less money for public services.

"But if we look after our health, if we help our children with our homework, if communities support each other to fight crime, then we can achieve the things that we want, even though we're not spending more on services."

The RSA are hoping the ideas behind the scheme could be used in other cities, if it is successful.

"I thinkPeterborough's a bit of a sleeping giant. There're a lot going for it - parts of the city and the countryside around it are really beautiful and there's a lot of creativity in the city

"If we can find a way of tapping that, it wouldn't just be exciting for Peterborough - I think people across Britain and around the world will be watching and trying to learn from it."

You can find out more on their website www.thersa.org.

There are more details about the plans below:

 

1. Sustainable citizenship campaign : This project will use theories of behaviour change and behavioural economics to combat climate change at a neighbourhood level and help people build more environmentally-friendly lives.

2. Arts and social change project : Through the arts we aim to find creative solutions to social problems and forge a cultural identity that people in Peterborough can be proud of. The programme will include interdisciplinary arts events, arts residencies, and a cultural festival with high profile international and local artists working alongside local people and pave the way for the development of a sustainable arts infrastructure for the city.

3. Empowerment through social media: We will be using social media to mobilise the community, ensure that citizens can keep up with project progress and make decision-making as transparent as possible.

4. Civic health audit: The civic health audit is a new tool we are developing for measuring the civic health of a community and will be trialled in Peterborough. The audit brings together user-generated questionnaires, social network analysis and secondary data analysis.

5. User-centred drug services: We will be working with drug users to design services that tackle dependency thereby empowering some of the most excluded citizens in Peterborough.

6. Area Based Curriculum: This project will involve local institutions and residents in education, to develop a curriculum that has a sense of ‘place’ and make Peterborough a learning city. Specific to Peterborough the curriculum will draw on the whole city as a learning resource and will promote engagement and civic awareness among young people.

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