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Local Places: Relationships and connections

The impact of relationships and connections on people and place

Localisation of Place

To combat the forces of globalisation people are looking locally. There are numerous local movements where people try to take back control of their local communities, economies and places that are under threat of the forces of globalisation such as the relocation of industry of the economic power of TNCs. Many communities now offer local farmers markets where people can buy products locally knowing that their money is going to be recycled into the local community. Local fairs and celebrations help people to connect with the society around them and celebrate what is unique to their local place. This can be seen in the image below from the Heaton festival in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The map shows the “Concerns” and “things to be thankful for” of people from all over that local area. A fabulous example of localism.

Heaton Hopes and Fears

The Lake District National Park launched the Lake District Pound, which could be bought at a rate of 1 to 1 with a normal pound. Some people will collect them and other tourists might take some home with them as change. It is a marketing tool to get money circulating within the local economy and use independent traders who are more likely to accept the currency. It also stops money leaking out of the local economy into the global economy via large companies. The notes celebrate local icons, a one pound note, a five pound note, a ten pound note and a twenty pound note featuring Charlotte Mason, Beatrix Potter, Sir Chris Bonnington and Hardwicke Rawnsley respectively. This has followed on from the initial success of the Bristol Pound and the Totnes Pound. Unfortunately, digital contactless card payments forced the stopping of these currencies.1

Lake District Pounds

Well-being and Belonging

The trend towards localism of place is connected to the ideas of well-being and belonging. Belonging is where people have a close or intimate relationship with a place, i.e. a sense of belonging. It is now being recognised as a key component of places, which need strong sense of social belonging to be sustainable communities. It leads to a sense of attachment, the affection, fondness, or sympathy for someone or something, such as a place.

Grainger Town Prize

Many regeneration schemes often have a belonging element to them, the redevelopment of Grainger Town in Newcastle had multiple stakeholder community meetings for example to ensure that the views of people in the area were carefully considered before that scheme went ahead. An award for the scheme can be seen opposite Indeed, belonging and sense of place creates such a link between the individual and the place that one considers oneself as a part of the place. A place, may be the place of a social relationship and a common experience among people, which creates a sense of belonging and attachment2 (Pakzad, 2009: 319).

Factors affecting our sense of belonging include;

  1. Age
  2. Gender
  3. Sexuality
  4. Socio-economic status
  5. Level of education
  6. Religion
  7. Ethnicity

Many of our cities now have multi-ethnic and multi-cultural societies that all have their own identities and sense of belonging. Well-being Well-being is another important factor. The Sunday Times named York as “the best place to live in Britain" in 2018. The walled city topped was said to have had the "perfect mix of heritage and hi-tech". The Times newspaper described it as a "mini-metropolis with cool cafes, destination restaurants, innovative companies - plus the fastest internet in Britain". Places were ranked on factors including jobs, schools, local shops and broadband speed. Bermondsey was named the best place to live in London, with Frome, Somerset, coming top in the South West.3 These places have common places factors, which generates a strong sense of community, good well-being and a strong sense of attachment for the place.

View of York from the Clifford Tower
View of York from the Clifford Tower

Localisation of Place:

Totnes in South Devon Totnes is a market town at the head of the estuary of the River Dart in Devon, England within the South Devon Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It has a population of eight thousand people. It is championed as a pioneer of localism. It had the Totnes Pound, a complementary local currency which was intended to support the local economy. It was successful initially but lost out to digital payments.

Totnes - The campaign against Costa

In 2012 many of the people in Totnes campaigned against the opening of a Costa coffee shop. Citizens set up a campaign with a website, notocosta.co.uk, with stylish Trainspotting-style posters. Almost 6,000 people signed a petition and around 300 wrote to the council to object. The town defeated the attempts of the high-street chain Costa Coffee to open a branch and dilute the charms of their independent and colourful high street. The campaign had its roots in Totnes fierce pride in its independent shops. Totnes High Street has a Superdrug and WH Smith, but the vast majority of its shops are independent retailers, a sight rarely seen in Britain today. It also has 42 places which sell coffee, ranging from a hotel to vegan and Middle Eastern cafes. They wanted to stop Totnes becoming a clone town. Despite getting permission to open, Costa eventually conceded defeat and dropped its plans.4

Totnes anti Costa poster

The Totnes transition town movement

Transition Town Totnes (TTT) is a community-led and run local charity that exists to “strengthen the local economy, reduce our environmental impact, and build our resilience for a future with less cheap energy and a changing climate.”5 TTT is not a 'membership' organisation, but a collection of local volunteers with a small staff team, who come together to work on projects. Anyone can get involved. The movement was founded in 2007 and there are now over a 1000 Transition Town projects worldwide. TTT projects ranges from increasing low impact affordable housing, sharing skills, creating livelihoods, reducing energy costs and carbon emissions, growing the local food economy and working in partnership with other local projects.

NEXT TOPIC - Places and the impact of external agencies

SOURCES

1 – BBC (2019) Lake District Pound: Currency forced out by contactless technology – accessed 13th May 2020 at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-cumbria-50487713

2. Pakzad, J. (2009). The Process of Urban Development. Tehran: Shahidi Publications.

3. BBC (2018) - York named Britain's 'best place to live' by guide, accessed 13th May 2020 at https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-york-north-yorkshire-43448590

4. TTT (2016) No to Costa in Totnes application goes through but the battle continues… accessed 13th May 2020 at https://www.transitiontowntotnes.org/2012/06/no-to-costa-in-totnes/

5. TTT (2016) accessed 13th May 2020 at https://www.transitiontowntotnes.org/

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