Be the change you want to see in the world

“Be the change you want to see in the world” is a sentence credited to Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948), and it came to my mind as soon as I read about the Changing London campaign.

David Robinson, a community worker and a father of three, and Will Horwitz, a policy researcher for a community charity, both living in east London, opened up the blog with a real fair and objective goal: bring ideas that could shape London for decades to come.

They claim the London mayor has the UK’s largest directly elected mandate (four years), and if politicians don’t pick ideas discussed on the blog, they will persuade them to.

All Londoners are extremely much invited to join in. And, yes, you can disagree, according to their own words: “Disagree with our suggestions by all means but don’t sit still. Having the debate and sparking new thinking is the purpose of the project”.

To contribute, one can send ideas in short sentences through the blog, write a full post on it, comment other people’s posts, communicate via Twitter or collect ideas in the real world. In this case, they explain the conversation must take place on streets and in communities, bringing the online discussion to the off-line world, something truly praiseworthy.

Briefly scanning through the blog, it is possible to find suggestions as public transport tickets to be timed, “so we can switch modes of transport within that time without spending more”, or cancer awareness to be improved, since “it is not taught in education, and this is a worrying issue”.

As the ideas started to emerge, they created some themes:

  • Becoming the world’s premier city for children
  • Becoming the world’s friendliest city
  • A fairer London – tackling inequality and poverty
  • Better Housing – solving London’s housing crisis
  • Beginning a new kind of politics
  • Learning from other cities

That’s an admirable effort! And it should be followed by many other cities around the world. What about a ‘Changing New York’, ‘Changing Tokyo’ or ‘Changing Sao Paulo’ campaign?

Check out pictures on their Flickr page!

 

London mayoral election

The mayor role was created in 2000, when the first election took place, and Kevin Livingstone was elected. Four years later, he was chosen again.

In 2008, it was Boris Johnson’s turn to become the mayor, and he repeated the feat in 2012. His current salary is £143,911 per year.

The next election will take place on May 5, 2016.

 

Support culture over commerce

Last March, the Southbank Centre unveiled plans to convert the iconic Undercroft skate park into retail shops. A £120 million redevelopment is planned, and the skate point would be relocated beneath the Hungerford Bridge.

The Undercroft is known as the birthplace of British skateboarding – 40 years old, it is the oldest and still existing skateboarding area in the world. It is an open, cultural space, which became home not only to skateboarders, but also to bike riders and graffiti artists. It became so naturally, organically, without any government intervention or organization.

In order to keep this space, its history and cultural significance, a campaign was born: Long Live Southbank. A petition was sent to Boris Johnson, the London mayor; it has been signed by over 67,000 people up to now – you can sign it here. This month, he spoke out in support of preserving it:

The skate park is the epicentre of UK skateboarding and is part of the cultural fabric of London.

This much-loved community space has been used by thousands of young people over the years.

It attracts tourists from across the world and undoubtedly adds to the vibrancy of the area – it helps to make London the great city it is.”

To encourage people to get involved, they have released an educational film showing the place’s history, the 9 month campaign and what they believe to be the true story of its intended destruction:

The campaigners are asking the replacement planning to be withdrawn, and the park long term future to be guaranteed. In their own words: “Long Live Southbank is committed to the protection of the Undercroft that has given birth to a rare artistic creativity and community, which continues to flourish. Join the Long Live Southbank campaign, support culture over commerce and community over capital”.

Southbank Panorama by Villy Fink Isaksen - http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Villy_Fink_Isaksen

Southbank Panorama by Villy Fink Isaksen – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Villy_Fink_Isaksen