Placemaking, prosperity and the local green economy

This blog post was contributed by Maria Adebowale-Schwarte, Director and Founder of Living Space Project. 

It’s totally fair to say that the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation’s early support for Living Space Project acted as a catalyst for defining the work we do now. Living Space Project is a London-based consultancy and social enterprise, dedicated to innovative projects that focus on urban green spaces and place shaping through inclusive community participation.

As a social enterprise and think tank working on urban place making and green spaces, Living Space Project knew that the environment and green spaces were crucial to building local economy and prosperity.

Inspired by taking part in the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation supported research visit to the United States on green jobs and skills five years ago, we decided to develop an Academy to support the non-green sector transition into a greener and fairer economy by stimulating greener jobs across London.

Living Space Project’s ‘think and do’ hubs, The Academy and London Greener Jobs were founded. Both hubs disrupt the narrow understanding of the green economy as only being about the ‘solar panel’ deep green jobs. We wanted to understand the impact of a transition into a fairer greener economy on neighbourhoods – from micro local high street hairdressers to macro local shared economies.

We wanted to understand the impact of a transition into a fairer greener economy on neighbourhoods – from micro local high street hairdressers to macro local shared economies.

And so the Hubs became innovative, exemplar projects that deep dived into what ‘green skills’ and ‘enterprise’ meant for diverse neighbourhoods in London. Our collaborative and inclusive approach was to build partnerships with, amongst others, building construction and place making projects, the London Green Skills Partnership, the University and College Union, Lewisham College, the London College of Beauty and the Otesha Project.

What started off as a two-year project became a lynchpin for Living Space Project’s work in urban place making and green spaces. The findings from our project report:‘Placemaking, Prosperity and the Local Economy’ found that place making and the sense of place was at the heart of facilitating local shared economies, greener skills, training and jobs.

The report and our collaborative way of working has been central to building Living Space Project’s programme on local prosperity and economies.

Living Space Project has also just launched #weareplacemakers, a global social media conversation curating celebration and debate on place making and prosperity.

Visit the Living Space Project website for more information or join in the conversation by following@livingspaceproj or email hello@livingspaceproject.com.