North Kensington is a place of contrasts. In recent weeks, while one residents association celebrated a successful referendum on a neighbourhood plan, less than a couple of metres away another group of people were left pondering a potential wholesale redevelopment of their area. One group is taking ownership of their future, while the other is losing it. Apparently there is no Yin without Yang.
The two areas in question – Silchester and St Quintin– are split by the great symbol of local unity and division, the Westway. And yet, the Trust that administers the community land beneath the flyover was noticeable only in its invisibility in both processes.
The Trust appears to be learning from the fiasco of its Destination Westway 2030 unveiling to tread more carefully around those it’s meant to serve. It’s trying to increasingly involve local people in its initiatives to avoid the calamitous lack of consultation that led to the inspiration for a shopping centre-style design to replace the heart of Portobello market. Although the ominous reframing of walking as ‘footfall’ in their latest community workshops for Thorpe Close, perhaps indicates a certain continuity in its strategic thinking.
But can the Trust reconnect with people beyond throwing a few stickies onto a board? Could this organisation build on its work in the local area to reconnect with the communities that pushed for it to exist in the first place? How can it adapt and respond to complexity of the changing environment around it? To both support those creating a neighbourhood plan, and those feeling vulnerable about the future?
Green Westway proposes a new 0 KM vision for the Trust. This is no silver bullet that will transform the organisation overnight, but it could be an operational framework that becomes conducive to better supporting local networks. The last vision’s mission was become ‘premier destination’, but 0 KM aims to firstly consolidate the Westway as a place, and in so doing returning it to its founding principles.
A 0 KM approach is one in which activities occur in the same area in which they are created. This can cover food to clothing, and music to jobs, and is intended to reduce costs and the impact on the environment. Prioritising the Westway as an opportunity space for local needs first, could support surrounding communities from the changing and often difficult situations that present themselves. Here are three suggestions to get a 0KM Westway up and running:
0KM INDOOR FARM
Imagine if Portobello Market sold locally produced mushrooms, salad, fish, and herbs. Well, as Grow Up Farms and Zero Carbon Food already show, it’s possible to produce fresh, pesticide free food in confined London spaces without the sun using aquaponic and vertical farming techniques. These reduce the carbon footprint needed for crop production, diminishes the water used, and could become a great way to reconnect local people to their food chains, not to mention to create local jobs.
Imagine if electricity generated for uses in the Westway was locally generated and could turn a profit for local people. Brixton Energy shows how community-owned energy production can introduce an element of stability for people in a context of changing energy prices.
The spread of two competing supermarket chains across Notting Hill, including one under the Westway, act as extractors of local money, and often come at the expense of local shops. Imagine if money could help local independent businesses. A local currency like the Bristol Pound can help weave the local economy back together, making us more likely to support local businesses. George Ferguson, the local mayor takes his whole salary in Bristol Pounds, if a similar scheme was run around the Westway, could Trust staff be paid in the local currency to show their dedication to the local economy?
The 0KM concept could be applied to other things as well. Music maybe, how could the local area better support local emerging artists such AJ Tracey, or the next Clash? What other things could become 0KM?
Crucially the idea of 0KM is one that envisions a place to support its local social, cultural, environmental, and economic networks. Could 0KM could help people living and working, around the Westway – from St Quintin to Silchester? What are your thoughts? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org