“I’ve lived here for two years and I’m never moving”, said one resident to a Future City Explorer on a recent community mapping expedition. What utopia could have inspired such a feeling? A tropical paradise with sandy beaches and turquoise oceans? The interviewee was referring to somewhere much closer to home: Glasgow’s popular district of Dennistoun. “There’s such a good sense of community here”, he added proudly.
Soon the places to visit and things to do in Dennistoun will be visible to a larger audience, thanks to a new printed map and mobile app created with residents’ community knowledge. Who better to plan the perfect ‘Day out in Dennistoun’ than the people who know it best? OPEN Glasgow and Pidgin Perfect worked with the Dennistoun Community Council to gather and map some of this valuable local knowledge.
The Big Gig
We set up camp outside The Corner Shop vintage clothing store and chatted to passers-by about their favourite spots, stalled spaces and shortcuts. We soon learned that Dennistoun is home to a finalist in the Scottish Entertainment Awards’ ‘Best Indian Restaurant’ category, and that bargain-hunters can find treasures in Dennistoun’s many second-hand stores. The next stop was the Reidvale Neighbourhood Centre where the Big Gig was taking place. Thanks to a grant from the Glasgow 2014 Culture Programme, the centre provided an exciting evening of free entertainment and tasty barbecue food. Families, tourists and members of the community council were all there to listen to some great musicians, including Sarah Hayes (Admiral Fallow) and Lorraine McCauley. The Dennistoun map was soon covered with colourful pins displaying everything from wild deer in Queen’s Park to cool cafes on Duke Street.
From musicians, who said they had found a network of support in their community, to families who shared growing spaces with their neighbours, everyone we spoke to had something in common: community pride. Of course you would expect nothing less in the birthplace of many great Scots, such as Charles Rennie Mackintosh. Before The Big Gig kicked off, we mingled with the gig-goers in the courtyard. It was refreshing to see that everyone seemed to know each other. It could be easy to feel anonymous and alone in a big city: that’s why spaces like this are invaluable. When we asked people to describe their ideal future community a common theme arose… Whether dreaming of an abundance of community gardens, or simply knowing your neighbour’s name, what everyone desired was ‘community spirit’.
Future City Glasgow has enabled the city to open over 350 data sets from 59 organisations. Open Data– and data visualisations through maps in particular – allow a new understanding of how the city runs. It allows citizens to articulate their needs in a powerful way; for example, identifying where Stalled Spaces could be used for community projects. But organisations’ open data is only the beginning; citizens have a wealth of local knowledge about their neighbourhood and the whole city. By listening to their voices we can better understand the city, the resources available and needed – and innovate more effectively. The better resources the community has to engage with one another, to learn and to create, the greater the community spirit.
‘A Day out in Dennistoun’ Map and App was launched as part of Glasgow’s Doors Open Day. The App is supported by Future City Glasgow’s Active Travel Demonstrator, which aims to encourage walking and cycling in the city to deliver health benefits for citizens and tackle environmental issues such as emissions and congestion.