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Where will I live Background Inspiration

House on hill

‘… meeting places of different people, different groups, different ethnicities. In human terms they are the entanglement, the meeting up, of different histories many of them without previous connection to others. I live in a second floor flat: there are two flats below mine. The occupants of these three dwelling spaces arrived here, in this building now, from very different directions. But here we are, and now we must manage to live together to get along. The area of the city in which I live replicates this on a larger scale, and one way of imagining whole cities is indeed as massively complex meeting places of difference. (This difference does not have to be dramatic, nor ethnically-defined for instance. We are each of us different). The point is that ‘places’ from a house of flats to a whole city, in consequence require negotiation (our emphasis). On a daily basis, and in a hundred unremarkable ways, we manage to live together, to negotiate our difference. Or sometimes we do; sometimes there are chasms of inequality and /or incomprehension; there may be violence and confrontation. …’

(taken from Doreen Massey’s ‘The geographical mind’ from the Secondary Geography Handbook: Sheffield, pp.46-51).

Sustainable Place

The project was also informed by Christine Phillips’ work on Sustainable Place (Wiley). In the text Phillips argues that ‘Building development constitutes the single largest energy-consuming human requirement’ (2003, p.vii) and develops an approach to help us consider this need in relation to environmental considerations. The main themes in Phillips’s work are:

  • Clarification of the term sustainable development
  • Interconnectedness of seemingly paradoxical issues – global-local, quantitative-qualitative, objective-subjective.
  • Awareness of the elements that could form an aesthetic for sustainability.

We were impressed with the way Phillips, writing from an architecture tradition, intersects so successfully with the geographical perspectives and educational objectives.

Education for Sustainable Development, A Manual for Schools

The Royal Town Planning Institute’s Education for Sustainable Development, A Manual for Schools (2003) proved hugely valuable as a practical resource for informing our creativity. The manual is about:

  • How society’s demands impact on the environment
  • How the planning system plays a positive role in managing demands and their environmental impact
  • How these two elements can be used in sustainable development education

Your school received a copy of this manual in 2003, but if you’ve misplaced your copy, it can be downloaded from the RTPI website.

People and Places: A 2001 Census atlas of the UK

People and Places: A 2001 Census atlas of the UK by Daniel Dorling and Bethan Thomas (2004) (Policy Press) also proved to be highly informative. In the introduction the authors state:

‘People and places, 2001 is the first published atlas that aims to depict the detailed human geography of the whole of the United Kingdom. It is also the first atlas of its kind:

  • to include well over 500 separate maps and cartograms;
  • to map so many aspects of life in the UK in a single volume;
  • to show how almost all of those aspects to the geography of life are changing over time;
  • to use a single population denominator throughout;
  • to simultaneously depict every pattern graphically both from the point of view of the people, and of the land.

The hugely provocative final section represents the authors’ perception of a divided nation, no longer a North-South divide, but:

‘On the southern side of the line is the great world metropolis of London, while on the northern sides lies its antithesis, the provincial archipelago. The archipelago lies west and north of the old counties of Gloucestershire, Warwickshire, Leicestershire and Lincolnshire. These are no longer counties: they are the city limits of London. You could quibble as to the exact route London’s city limits run, but they follow a line that corresponds closely to those county boundaries, from the estuary of the Severn to a few miles south of the Humber, running along the foothills of what used to be called upland Britain’ (Dorling and Thomas, 2004, p. 183).

You may also be interested in Danny Dorling’s 2006 GA Conference Lecture.

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