Posted by: nickgardham | May 16, 2011

Community Animating – Trying it Out

Richard Palmer, local musician and volunteer, expresses his thoughts following a day of trying out the ‘Root Solution – Listening Matters’ process.

“I was ready to walk the streets of Hawtonville – Newark’s largest estate, and meet some of the people within the community. I was accompanying Nick Gardham, co-ordinator of the RE:generate programme.

I guess I had some pre-conceived ideas about how the day would develop, but I was very suprised with what I found. After a few failed attempts at talking to people on their doorsteps we happened upon a street where we talked to three residents. All were perfectly willing to talk about how they found the estate – what they liked about the community, what they disliked and how it could best be improved; whether or not they felt they had a voice in local matters and their concerns for the future.

A lasting thought was how much they seemed to appreciate that someone was taking the time to listen to thier thoughts, concerns and hopes. I mistakenly believed that it would be a very hard job – that people would be unwilling to talk, perhaps they would be rude, dismissive, ignorant and even aggressive. I believe that there are many people in Newark who have the same opinions. All the people we spoke to were polite and respected that we were doing a job that in time would help them, even inspire them to take more ownership of the issues that exist and bring other people together to take action.

There was talk of how the young people of the community could be engaged, how employment prospects could be improved, how communication with the local police could be improved and how organised events and activities could benefit the residents.

All together a thoroughly worthwhile morning and afternoon, giving some people assurance that we were listening to them and it was in all our interests that we work together. I look forward to my next opportunity to talk to some some more residents and find out more!”

Richard Palmer



  1. What a great day it was too Richard! As well as the three people we listened to near Winston Court we also listened to many others who were keen to take action around the things that mattered to them.

    One of the reasons why people were so open and willing to discuss issues was that we approached the conversation gently, built trust and took time to listen to what they had to say. As the dialogue developed the conversation moved to being around action and change.

    I think just one of the conversations we had illustrated it. How fascinating was it to see the joy on the lady’s face when she came up with the solution of putting a net over the football pitch so to stop the balls from hitting the nearby houses!

    ‘That’s a great idea, I have really impressed myself – it’s really good. Simple’.

    Ownership of the idea at the grass roots, and then a preparedness to take action around it with others is important if we are to ensure that we bring about long term sustainable change.

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