Think of a city.
What is the first thing that pops into your head? Is it an image? A building? A street? Or is it something slightly less tangible, such as a ‘scene’ or a ‘vibe’?
Now try it with your own city. What do you get? For me, when I think of Brighton, my mind is not suddenly awash with images of the Pavilion and the Pier. What I get is a sense of excitement, of ideas, of communities of people getting together and doing things because they are worth doing.
A community is a collection of people with something in common. Maybe they share the same interests or have the same goals. Although technology now enables us to create communities beyond geographical boundaries, we are fundamentally social animals. We need to meet and connect. And it is this need that brings freelancers and start-up businesses into shared workspaces.
Communities, what they are and who is responsible for creating them, was the topic of a recent Construction Voice event from the Brighton Chambers of Commerce. The discussion took place at FIELD, the newly renovated Preston Barracks site, where seven new start-up businesses and makers have won a temporary rent-free residency.
It is both heartening and exciting to know that developers are now looking for ways to help develop and nurture new communities. After all, the availability of physical spaces to meet and create is crucial to any group of people with a shared goal.
But, although there may be a responsibility on developers and local government to provide the spaces that allow these groups to meet and grow, there is also a duty on all of us to share our ideas, our creativity and interests, and invite our neighbours to join in. Brighton is full of these communities and, for me, it is these communities that make the city what it is.
By Tony Felstead