Thursday 1 November 2007 8.23am
I appreciate that there are a number of threads re individual elephant schemes on the forum and have looked for an overall regen thred without success. I hope no-one will mind me starting this one anyway: I'm writing it because there appears to be so much frustration around the lack of hard facts about e.g. the roundabout underpasses. I know residents like Jackie make huge efforts to keep people updated but actually, that's not enough.
It's such a shame that the whole elephant regen, whilst potentially exciting and positive, is being let down by such poor communication from the main teams. We get the glossy 'Quarter' which is fine, but contains very few hard facts. It just tells us in clever fonts how 'vibrant' we all are. The website is distinctly non-interactive. Of course we now have the obligatory vertical banners in equally funky fonts saying that 'it's started'. There's the occasional lame exhibition in the shopping centre, but no 'hub' where people can go and chat to Southwark or even LendLease employees. The Ecopod is the most shocking example of how to mystify and alienate people - I assumed one could go into it but then realised that it was a dumb box.
Anyone remember this box in Berlin?
berlin red box
It proudly announced the regen of Potzdamer Platz - a large site in the centre of town. It sat smack in the middle of the regen site itself. Locals and tourists alike went there to learn about the proposals, comment, find out when meetings were going to take place etc. It was somehow 'open/visible' and stopped the regen from feeling like it was all going on behind closed doors, like the elephant does. I'm no conspiracy theorist - I don't think the elephant regen organisers are trying to hide things or be obstructive. I just don't think they are being creative about engaging people in the area in a truly public way which says: 'we are regenerating this area - come and see us'. [I am involved in regeneration myself and I know how hard it is to get people engaged - most people are just trying to get on with their lives, frankly.] But wouldn't it be great to have our own 'red box'?
Come on Southwark/LendLease. Stop fiddling around with small outreach efforts and announce yourselves loudly, publicly and with some oomph.