Wednesday, 17 May 2006

Common knowledge I've written here occasionally about everyday life and conditions on the Havelock estate in Southall, where I've been working with Giles Lane of Proboscis, and Bev Carter from Partners in change, over the last 10 months. Proboscis has now published some of my idiosyncratic twittering about the estate, in their Cultural snapshots series. The essay is an unashamedly impressionistic assessment of the communication context for community development. Here's the abstract. Common knowledge: community development and communication on a housing estate Residents striving to improve conditions on a low-income estate face a range of problems, some of which severely constrain their ability to act collectively. This essay offers an impressionistic view of conditions on the Havelock estate in Southall, west London, based on an assessment of the communication and information ecology, with the aim of clarifying the role that Social Tapestries might play in stimulating information flow and the sharing of ideas and knowledge. The essay offers a snapshot of the physical conditions, low levels of social interaction, and ‘civic absence’ that characterises the neighbourhood. It notes the sense of weakening community presence in the face of unresponsive environmental services and a looming drugs threat. It attempts to explain why participation in community initiatives is sometimes very difficult to establish or sustain, and it contrasts this reactive, fragmentary style of urban life with the contemporary image of lively urban consumption.

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