Build Back Fairer: reflecting on our first event and looking forward to Building Pajoma on 21st October

Build Back Fairer: reflecting on our first event and looking forward to Building Pajoma on 21st October

Posted: Fri, 08 Oct 2021 10:23

Build Back Fairer: reflecting on our first event and looking forward to Building Pajoma on 21st October

Build Back Fairer: reflecting back on Building a Playful Oxfordshire, looking forward to Building Pajoma

Making somewhere child-friendly, is pretty similar to making it walkable and to making it work for 80-year-olds, Tim Gill told an audience of Oxfordshire's planners, public health officers, community leaders and representatives – and you can watch it all here.

In the first of our Build Back Fairer events, we also heard from 10-year-old Miriam about how she guides herself safely to school and to visit friends since the introduction of the Florence Park Low Traffic Neighbourhood.

Miriam's experiences added a local flavour to Tim's own findings that after learning to walk, learning to ride a bike is the next step for children to expand their horizons. Therefore safe walking and cycling networks — designed with children in mind -- are a key building block in making not only Oxfordshire's streets but also its parks and other social amenities accessible for all.

Many of the principles for creating a child-friendly neighbourhood outlined in Tim's book 'Urban Playground' strongly align with the principles of Oxfordshire's Healthy Place Shaping approach.

For instance, Tim encourages us to Think Local and focus on the neighbourhood scale, noting that children's independent lives are constrained where they live. He also insists on the importance of involving children effectively in designing a neighbourhood – an approach mirror's Healthy Place Shaping's ambitions to Focus on What's Strong by involving communities in co-creation of innovative solutions.

His research also highlights the importance of developing what he calls 'supportive programming' alongside the physical changes to a public space. This notion supports Healthy Place Shaping's principles of recognizing that Everything's Connected and we work Better Together by ensuring that those delivering changes to the Built Environment work with those engaged in Community Activation. The purpose of this being to avoid a misplaced 'build it and they will come' mentality, and secondly to ensure that what we build is delivered in a way that 'embraces diversity, equality and inclusion' – Tim's first principle of a child-friendly environment.

Without that we run the risk that the vision for shaping healthier places is more easily picked up by those who are well positioned to deliver it at the expense of those who face more socio-economic and health inequalities.

Looking forward to our next Build Back Fairer event: Building Pajoma - Race and Cultural Inequalities in Oxfordshire's public space

That concept was in my mind as I recently read Chandra Christmas-Rouse's 'Race, Space and the Poetics of Planning: Toward a Black Feminist Space-making Practice.' Writing about "Black women creative practitioners vigorously rework the meaning and significance of urban space in ways that carry broader implications for equitable urban planning and development", she points to many of today's built environments reflecting "a systematic refusal to recognise the genius and creativity of communities that have historically experienced disinvestment.

Much like Tim, Ms Christmas-Rouse make a call to action for planners "to respect local knowledge and spatial capacity of communities".

Whether you are in planning, transport planning, parks, public health, or any interested member of the community, I thoroughly recommend reading this work, and its framework for allyship and then signing up to the next in our Build Back Fairer series – Building Pamoja: Race & Cultural Inequalities in Oxfordshire's Public Space.

Co-hosted with Pamoja Oxfordshire & African Families in the UK, the session will feature the voices of local community organisers and Dianne Regisford, an Oxford-based social sculptor and researcher of urban poetics whose work includes specific focus on citizen agency in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

At the end of our first Build Back Fairer event Dianne asked the audience "What is at the top of your agenda… what questions are arising when you think of addressing race and cultural inequalities in public space?"

We're keen to make sure that these event go beyond 1 hour of interest but spark collaboration and allyship – so please, if you have an answer to Dianne's question please let me know asap at and we'll make sure its addressed.

Tags: Active Communities, Active Lives