RUSS was invited to have a spot on the Community Stall at the Ladywell Christmas market in December. It was a great opportunity for us to meet local community groups, local residents and raised awareness of our work within the local community. We invited the public to deposit their ideas for temporary uses of the Church Grove site into our cardboard model house (the architectural team have advised that the real RUSS homes will be built out of more substantial materials and will be longer lasting!). We were looking for ideas that could benefit both RUSS and the local community. Members made suggestions for a possible garden, site office, community space, self-build demonstration and training centre, artists’ studios built from reclaimed materials – the list was endless!
The RUSS members who volunteered on the stall introduced a lot of people to RUSS and the self-build project on the Church Grove site. Importantly, this gave the local community the opportunity to comment on our aspiration to build locally truly affordable and sustainable homes. We received interesting feedback, which the Community Engagement team are now working on incorporating into their future plans and activities. We also increased our membership and we are pleased that more people will be supporting us and engaging in our future activities. Engaging with people and organisations from the local and regional community is very important to us, as we are a community based organisation, so we are planning a range of activities over the coming months, from those living nearest to the scheme, to the wider borough and beyond.
RUSS plans to communicate and engage locally using a variety of formats, including dedicated workshops, Local Assembly meetings, news articles, online forums and more, to ensure the widest possible coverage and feedback contribution, as RUSS seeks to provide unique community housing within the established community.
Whilst there many challenges to overcome in creating a temporary use of the site, we would welcome further ideas. Please email these to the Community Engagement team (firstname.lastname@example.org).