Sam Cowan blogs about the Love Up Wanstead social experiment- a community-building idea inspired by Sophia course

Pop up shopLOVE UP WANSTEAD

When I did the Sophia Hubs active citizens and entrepreneurs course earlier this year (which is a must for anyone who cares about building and improving community) one thing voiced by many of my fellow participants was that community is not a passive process. If you want it, you need to build it.

This is one of the key ideas behind LOVE UP Wanstead, a two-week social experiment in seeing how much people can LOVE UP an area between September 5 and 20 by doing positive things for the local environment and the people in it.Hand drawn map

A 6m square map of Wanstead has been hand-drawn onto the walls of the Art trail Pop-Up Centre –a temporary gallery and workshop space at 149 High Street, Wanstead (2 mins from Wanstead Tube Station).

Every time someone does something to LOVE UP Wanstead they are invited to ‘map’ it by putting a symbol on the exact spot on the giant map where the action happened. The challenge is to see how much we can change a map in 16 days through our positive actions and interactions.

There are four main categories of action that we are asking people to take to LOVE UP Wanstead:

  • flowerPlant something in a public place
  • broomPick up 5+ pieces of litter in a public space
  • heartWrite a ‘love letter to Wanstead’. This is a letter of appreciation for a favourite business, place or local character to say thank you for doing all that they do. We have special LOVE UP notepaper in the Art trail pop up shop – or feel free to create/use your own
  • smiley with handsBe nice to someone you have never met before (or barely know)

As Sophia Hubs is full of community-minded people you may have your own ideas about what you would like to do to make Wanstead a nicer place – and for this very reason, we have a miscellaneous category, too.

There will be several organised events taking place to help you LOVE UP the area en masse including guerrilla gardening, volunteering for a morning at a new community allotment and a creative writing session for penning and delivering ‘Love Letters To Wanstead.’ Please refer to the art trail website for full listing information.

As well as being a gallery space, the Pop Up Centre is also being used for environmental and art events. Ros will be leading an environmental film and discussion evening there on Sep 16, so keep the evening free!

Please do spread the word far and wide – and whether Wanstead is somewhere you live, work, visit or are yet to step foot in, do take the time between September 5-20 to LOVE UP the area, map your actions and enjoy the art trail.

Sam Cowan

sams cartoon logo

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