On 21 and 22 September, Wolverhampton will give local people an unusual challenge. We’ll be asking them to change the city with an idea.
The challenge will come at Make-SHIFT, an ideas event on the citycamp model that will be hosted by FutureGov.
While there’s nothing revolutionary in the citycamp idea, people who don’t know Wolverhampton could be forgiven for wondering what a gritty, no-nonsense ‘working town’ hopes to get from it.
Like many other British cities of a similar size and history, Wolverhampton’s challenge - and its principal objective - is to regenerate itself.
Trouble is, when people talk about urban regeneration, they can sometimes put physical change ahead of the passion, knowledge and potential of local communities. If they do, they’re missing a significant trick.
It’s people who make a city. The bricks and mortar are important, but it’s local people’s abilities, ambitions and dreams that give a place its true character.
Though over the past two years Wolverhampton has succeeded in attracting new industrial and commercial investment, regeneration from the grass roots upwards is just as important to our future. In particular, we want to give local communities the chance to build their own social capital.
Fortunately, Wolverhampton can call on a long tradition of creativity, innovation and enterprise. People here have good ideas - and a willingness to take an active role in improving their own lives and communities.
This is where Make-SHIFT will really make a difference. As well as surfacing good ideas and attracting the mentors and champions to take these forward, it will encourage people to ‘make their own connections’. The pay-off will be greater resilience within communities and across the whole city.
So, what does Wolverhampton hope to get from Make-SHIFT? The answer’s simple - quite a lot!
Simon Warren, chief executive, Wolverhampton City Council