Catherine Max reports on 'Putting the 5 Ways to Wellbeing in Place', an event she co-hosted recently with Shared Assets and London National Park City.
At the end of February, I co-hosted an event with Shared Assets and London National Park City which tested the idea that the '5 Ways to Wellbeing' (Connect, Be active, Learn, Give, Take notice) could provide a useful and broadly appealing way to approach place and health. Over-subscribed several weeks in advance, the event brought together researchers and practitioners from the public, private and voluntary sectors - from public health, housing, architecture, engineering, landscape architecture, community gardening, environment, culture, welfare and community development.
We designed the event to be exploratory and participative, with a 'Living lab' of speakers sharing early project ideas, a group exercise taking Thamesmead as a working example, and a panel of participant responders comprising the GLA's Head of Health, Vicky Hobart, adventurer and wellbeing podcaster Sally Kettle and two academics, Nick Tyler (UCL) and Jo Birch (University of Sheffield).
We were delighted by the energy and creativity in the room, and by the many and varied ideas and potential partnerships which were generated.
Could Cityread, London's annual mass book club which connects people with each other and the city, take our libraries out into our parks?
Could walking groups and urban design reconnect us to place by making twilight delightful again instead of threatening?
If we take more notice of how we experience place, could this help identify and characterise how and where to find tranquillity in the city?
How can we value - and better nurture - how much people give in the interest of personal, community and place wellbeing?
We hope to pursue these and other questions about the 5 Ways and also 'sense of place' through future events and projects. If you have ideas of your own or want to take part, please sign up to our dedicated mailing list here.
Catherine Max's work as a consultant and trustee is all about health and social and environmental sustainability, with the aim of promoting wellbeing and social justice through good governance, citizen engagement and urban design. A passionate Londoner, Catherine walks the streets and green spaces of her home city at every opportunity and is a keen allotment gardener. She blogs about place here.
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