Tuesday, 7 November 2017

Middle Street Resource Centre, its café (oops), Beeston's forward thinkers and remapping our town

Yesterday evening (Monday 6 November) I went along to the annual public meeting of Middle Street Resource Centre and took with me some A1 size copies of my Beeston maps (the first time I'd seen them so large). Simon at Pixels & Graphics on Chilwell Road printed them. Here they are on display in the Centre:

There was quite a bit of interest. One of the maps was 'exclusive' in the sense that it was a blank master, which I have never made public before.

As simple as this looks it is something I would re-build and may well do so. Given the time available to me it may take a few months, but I am tempted to do it so that others can use the map more easily. When I say 'others' I mean in and of the community. Commercial companies wanting to use the map will have to pay a negotiated fee, which I will use to publish my bus maps or short stories.

I deliberately left the detail on the Nottingham University Campus inset map and it was only whilst I was at Middle Street yesterday evening that I realised the Centre had no café icon, so I have added one. Here is the amended section of my map close-up:

My reason for going to the meeting last night was to link up with Resource Centre volunteers involved with the Let's Go 2 Beeston website, which the Centre took over a couple of weeks ago. I met Karen and Colin and look forward to working with them. Councillor Pat Lally encouraged both of them to address the meeting, which they did briefly. They clearly have the vision to take it beyond Beeston High Road and its retail emphasis. Councillor Lally told those present that he thought the website had the potential to do much for the Centre and I'm sure he's right.

Beeston does need a web focus and this could well be it. Anna Soubry and Broxtowe Borough Council both publish forthcoming events, as does the Beeston Express, but not online, and this is one of the points made at yesterday evening's meeting more than once — that a good few folk are not into web and online social media. Bringing the two together is the challenge and partly explains why the Beeston map cover makes a reference to web based media:

The Beeston map as presently designed does not mark hotels or B&Bs, nor nurseries. It has to be about more than attracting shopper, it has to be about attracting visitors to search the town's Blue Plaques, to use Beeston as a holiday base. The town needs to promote its connectivity (which is something my Beeston centred public transport map tries to do) and we should remember 'connectivity' goes more than one way.

Karen and Colin understand this — as do Judy Sleath, Chair of Beeston Civic Society, and Matt Turpin of The Beestonia. For connectivity to be a success this is where it has to begin. With forward thinkers. There are others of that I am sure, but they have to be 'outside the box' by which I mean not naturally of 'The Establishment' in all its manifestations. 

Middle Street offers a good starting point in so many ways. Its users and owner for one and off the community. My blank Beeston map heading challenges viewers to 'See Beeston a little differently' followed by 'What would you put on this map?'

I would actually like to take the exercise back a step and invite Beestonians of all ages, interests, groups to sit down with a sheet of A3 paper and map there own take on Beeston, where they place themselves on the map they create? This exercise tells you a lot about what people like, want and where they spend most of their time. I know this from experience. For 21 years I was a supported housing regional, then national, Housing Management Officer and I would bring staff and tenants together in towns as diverse as Nottingham, Newark, Mansfield (to give you local examples) to create such maps. It really did help us to improve the quality of lives, especially in terms of individual and group support.

It is easy to miss the obvious and it is difficult to know if others are equally as blind as me or are terribly polite (eg. my Middle Resource Centre café slip)? Mapping tells you such things. It is an amazing way of learning I promise you.

And with this thought I will leave you, plus a reminder to visit the Middle Resource Centre café soon!

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