Can mapping your local area help to bring about positive change in your community? That’s what a group of young people from Sir John Hunt Community Sports College in Whitleigh are hoping to find out…
Whitleigh is a residential area on the outskirts of Plymouth (UK), about 4 miles north of the city centre with a population of about 7,350 people. Whitleigh is almost entirely surrounded by woods – with Budshead Woods & Woodland Woods to the south, and Cann Woods & Whitleigh Woods to the north. These large green stretches mark the boundary between Whitleigh and the neighbouring areas of Southway, Honicknowle, Crownhill, West Park, Tamerton Foliot, St Budeaux and Ernesettle.
Over the past 6 months, a group of young creatives have been working on a project to develop a new digital map of the neighbourhood, to be published online in June 2018.
The map is developed by a number of Young Advisors (young people aged 16–20 who want to make a positive change in the community), supported by Whitleigh Big Local & Take A Part. Meeting every second Thursday after school, the group have been working with a range of specialists who they have invited onto the project – including artists and community organisers, a geospatial technologist, a sound artist & a local web developer. The project has led to them finding out more about the area, make sound recordings with local residents and discover how different people are involved in making things happen in Whitleigh.
One of the things they discovered was the wealth of information gathered by Whitleigh resident and artist Sandy Wager on her series of maps – you can explore Sandy’s maps here:
Sandy also features as one of the interviewees in the new digital map, talking about her ongoing mission to make life in Whiteigh more colourful. You can see all the details of her arts group, Whitleigh Arts, here – https://whitleigharts.weebly.com
The group also met with Tom Buckley, a local resident who started Whitleigh Edibles – a group that aims to improve the connections to food, motivate the wider community and give better access to learning in the natural environment.
On the new map, you’ll be able to hear Tom talk about what he’d like to improve in Whitleigh, what he loves about living here and the community orchard near Aylesbury Crescent playpark that he helped to plant in 2015
Part of the remit of the project was to pair the Young Advisors with an artist and educator based in Plymouth (Rachel Dobbs) to develop skills in creative project management, decision-making and working together to achieve a complex creative project. They have also been producing a series of ‘How To’ videos with sound artist & moving image expert Neil Rose to help share their learning with other young people interested in setting up and running their own projects.
The Young Advisors have also benefited from special mentor support from two of Barne Barton’s Young Community Ambassadors who made a digital map of their area last year, which means that the Whitleigh Young Advisors have been able to learn lots of useful things from their experiences.
The group hope that by designing their map to be accessible online, that lots of people in Whitleigh and further afield will be able to view it and explore what they’ve found out about the area via their phones & tablets.