Community and Panel Debate- Southwark Stands Together

In August 2020 our intern, Madalina, attended the Southwark Stands Together: Renewing the Public Realm community panel debate. Here is what she had to say:

“The brutal killing of George Floyd sparked the fire of a movement to stand against racism. Because of this desire of change, a promising local initiative has been taken by the Southwark Council. Southwark is one of the most diverse boroughs in the UK, and as an authority, the Council intends on joining the support for BAME residents to tackle racism and achieve equality. The local initiative[1] aims to create a work plan of commitments and actions assigned to the Council, businesses, and key organisations to implement change.

As part of the Southwark Council initiative (Southwark Stands Together), a series of Online Listening Exercises with communities and different industry sectors across the borough and Council staff were organised.

On the 20th of August, a discussion about Reinventing and Renewing the Public Realm was undertaking an anti-racist audit of the borough to identify statues and street names that do not reflect the borough’s diversity. A number of 92 participants joined the online discussion, together with the following panellists: Jacob V Joyce (Artist, Illustrator, Activist), Torange Khonsari (Architect, Lecturer, Co-Founder of Public Works not-for-profit art & architecture practice), Roger Madelin (Joint Head of Canada Water Development, British Land), David Ogunmuyiwa (Partner at ArchitectureDoingPlace, Mayor’s Design Advocate at the GLA), John Whelan (Representative of The Walworth Society, Founder and Artistic Director of inclusive theatre company People’s Company), and Carole Wright (Project Manager, Community Gardener, Beekeeper). Everyone agreed that public space should offer safety and diversity. Mrs. Torange pointed out that a successful public space needs a multiplicity of users, and this all needs a design that is fair, inclusive, financially supported and includes training. Another important aspect, as highlighted by Mrs. Carole Wright, is the financing of the projects. There is a historical disparity regarding who is deciding and running the projects for public spaces. The authorities should give people the power to determine what kind of projects happen in this area, and should also give them funds to make a change.

The conversation explored how the local community can work together to ensure greater cultural diversity in the public realm. I found this event very useful for the community as this is making it more inclusive. Moreover, I think diversity without inclusion is meaningless, and I was pleased to see this event was conducive to a successful community environment.”


[1] To see