Update: Leeds Urban Commons Mapping

Thank you to everyone who came to the project update meeting on Friday 3rd March at ODI Leeds. It was a fantastic session in response to the latest prototype of the Leeds Urban Commons Map and we’re very excited about what the next steps might be.

If you couldn’t make it, you can view the presentation which summarises the project process to date via this link. A write up of the session is also available via this link.

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For those interested in the project’s backstory, the latest session was a culmination of 6 months of data gathering, planning and map interface building. The project itself was kickstarted back in July 2016 with the ‘Realising the Commons’ community philosophy workshop where we explored and defined a collective meaning for ‘urban commons.’ There is a great write-up of the session and its outcomes written by Graeme Tiffany and ODI Leeds on this link:  http://odileeds.org/blog/2016-07-28-urban-commons

Some definitions from the community philosophy workshop included:

The Commons, our enquiry found, is, essentially, about people, employing a process based on a range of principles to use, and re-use (i.e. make sustainable) a particular resource. In this sense, the concept of space should be understood as having many dimensions, from the physical to the non-physical.

One of the key actions that came out of this workshop was to map the ownership of land, particularly that which is Council/publicly owned. Between August – December 2016,  Leeds Love It Share It CIC together with ODI Leeds set about gathering datasets from LCC, Data Mill North and other online sources while building the digital map interface. During this period we also we found some particularly inspiring mapping projects from further afield in New York and closer to home in neighbouring Kirklees.

We unveiled the prototype at a ‘soft-testing’ workshop with residents at LILAC co-housing in Bramley, Leeds in January 2017.

The prototype map we presented is available to view via this link. (Please email leedscitylab@gmail.com for login details). The prototype map displays a number of datasets that we managed to gather in this time, including Leeds City Council owned land and assets and allotments. The extent of all the map layers is city-wide but this unfortunately slows the browser speed down too much! For now the prototype shows a cropped sample centred around LILAC. We hope to develop the map in the next phase so it can display the same data for all of Leeds quickly and efficiently.

A summary of the feedback from the LILAC community is available via this link. A number of comments focussed on the idea of showing social and ‘intangible’ data over the physical ‘tangible’ data we had already gathered. For example what local groups are already active in a neighbourhood and who would be the right person to contact – either at grassroots level or local authority level.  It was also apparent that the LILAC community wanted to be able to add more dataset layers in relation to their specific interests and aspirations.

These thoughts were echoed at the latest catch-up meeting – that local organisations, community groups and initiatives across Leeds needed to be mapped over spatial and urban data. At the same time, the next stage in developing the Leeds Urban Commons Map should zoom-in to the city’s neighbourhoods and be co-produced with these communities. As such, we’re delighted that our next event will be a planning workshop hosted in Headingley, open to all interested individuals and organisations from all over Leeds – more details and dates to follow!

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