This article discuss the work of Marcus Westbury and his attempt to revitalise the dying heart of the city of Newcastle, Australia. Westbury’s Renew Newcastle project saw the run down central part of the city get a breath of air and come spluturing back to life. Having been to Newcastle during the down time I can attest to the The Walking Dead-esque nature of that part of town. But by using some fairly unconventional methods - such as utilising vacant spaces rent free - the town has come roaring back to life. This is an interesting tale of a post-industrial steel city bought to it knees as the mills closed. It’s also one of hope and the power of local action and utilising the global power of the web. Much of Westbury’s success has been because of the export of products enabled by the web. In this way new money is injected into the local community rather than borrowing it from somewhere else. This new money is the most crucial element and why many similar projects fail when they simply invest money and don’t generate anything new.
Given my desire to work on local Civitas during 2016 this post has given me some really good ideas and inspired me to think that change is possible - especially if you focus on creating the infrastructure for the community to create the change themselves.
Source: Hacking the City
Image: New York by Las Vegas by Tim Klapdor CC-BY-NC