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Reimagining the city addressed one of the great questions of our time: How, during a period of rapid urbanisation in the Global South, can cultural organisations help communities to move from marginalised informal settlements to inclusive, sustainable urbanisation?
The project drew upon the experiences of King's partner organisation Collaborative Media Advocacy Platform (CMAP) in Port Harcourt, Nigeria – and discussed the role of the arts, representation, gentrification, precarity, resilience, and the right to the city, in search of a model for cities across the Global South.
The project's partner organisation CMAP brings together filmmakers, broadcasters, urban planners, architects, designers, researchers and – most importantly – the people of Port Harcourt’s informal settlements, to develop the residents’ capacity to participate meaningfully in the shaping of their city. Nearly half a million people live in Port Harcourt’s informal waterfront settlements.
These communities are not recognised on official maps and the state government has declared its intention to demolish them and turn Port Harcourt, Nigeria’s oil capital, into a 'garden city'. At least 30,000 people have been forcibly displaced by the recent rounds of mass demolitions, with no plan to compensate or resettle those evicted.
CMAP’s intention is to provide spatially and socially marginalised people in at-risk communities with the means to tell their stories on film, on air and in court, to chart their reality cartographically and to describe their vision for the future in ‘urban action plans’, and, in doing so, to resist eviction and shape both public debate and public space in their city.
Read more about CMAP here.
The role of arts activist organisations within sustainable urban development will be explored through two workshops.
The first workshop took place in November 2015 at King's College London.
A second workshop took place in Port Harcourt, Nigeria in November 2016 and January 2017:
A scriptwriting and production workshop: two script editors, Penelope Leicester and Titilayo Awobode, led 38 x 4-hour workshops covering the following: character profiles, location maps, story grids, episode grids, episode treatments. The climax of the workshop was the scripting and recording of four radio plays.
Urban planning workshop: Barbara Summers, an urban planner from Ohio USA, convened a series of planning workshops to ‘ground-truth’ the maps which the CMAP team have made of the informal settlements on the waterfront. In addition, seminars were held on how to tell stories using data. The final seminar set out the groundwork for a pilot planning project in the locality.
The writing and representation workshop, 19-26 January:
Pat Palmer also facilitated two sessions that evaluated the experience of the radio team and the mappers.
Over the course of the project, over 38 individual writers’ workshops were staged, as well as 20 producer workshops and 12 mapping sessions.
The project team's next aim was to shape some of the audio outputs of the collaboration for broadcast on Chicoco Radio over the course of autumn/winter 2018.
You can listen to the Angala Community episodes that have been broadcast on Chicoco Radio below:
The longer term aim is to establish an ongoing exchange between young writers and activists from the city’s slums and literature students form the north. They also have plans to launch a library and urban reading garden project, which would see an international exchange of books and public space design capacity. This project is very much in line with CMAP’s approach to urban design which sets up a critical exchange between the staging of inclusive public discourse and the creation of inclusive public space, between storytelling and placemaking.
Dr Pat Palmer, Department of English, is the academic lead for this project. Professor Mark Turner, Department of English, is the academic advisor and Dr Ruth Craggs, Department of Geography, is the Knowledge Exchange Associate working on this project.
The project is in collaboration with the Collaborative Media Advocacy Platform (CMAP). CMAP shares skills and technologies to allow communities to record their experiences, tell their stories and change their lives. The CMAP team is made up of Michael Uwemedimo, Project Director; Adewale Ajadi, Non Executive Director; Ana Bonaldo, Director of Audio Programmes; and Fubara Samuel Tokubiye, Community Engagement Manager.
The following members of the CMAP project team will travel to London to take part in the November workshop at King’s:
Michael Uwemedimo: CMAP Project Director
Adewale Ajadi: CMAP Non Executive Director
Ana Bonaldo: CMAP Director of Audio Programmes
Fubara Samuel Tokubiye: CMAP Community Engagement Manager
Reimagining the city: cultural advocacy, sustainable urban development: the case of CMAP, Port Harcourt, Nigeria is a collaboration between King's College London's Department of English and Collaborative Media Advocacy Platform (CMAP). It is supported by the university's Culture team.
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