Part 3: What’s next for local communities?
We love predicting the future. Unfortunately, we are dreadful at doing it. Just think about the number of science fiction films predicting the year 2020, and how wrong they were. It makes you think: Imagine the power we’d all have if we could see in the future. It’s a superpower for a reason.
You’re probably thinking, wait, but why is the title of this article called communities of the future then? we want to show you some new projects that are changing our communities, rather than stating what the future will bring. The new communities won’t be like the old communities that have declined. Instead, our communities are going better than we’ve seen before. We are waving a tentative hello at a new generation of neighbourhood communities.
We think there are going to be three changes: Cities, People and Technology
Cities: built with community in mind
In recent years, experts have become increasingly aware of the positive effects of certain types of buildings and the layout of cities has on our emotional, economic and social health.
Experts have also realised the importance of having inclusive and strong neighbourhoods. Studies have shown knowing your neighbours can have a dramatic effect on your mental health, education of your children and even the value of your house. As such, architects and builders are making our future cities more community-centric.
Where are we looking to replan our communities?
In Britain, we have a problem. As Part One stated, neighbourhood communities in the UK have been in decline for the last few decades. Architects, builders and planners have been looking for help elsewhere. Tokyo, for example, employs a unique town planning practice, which supports local people to develop their own local identities. They encourage citizens to install nature everywhere.
In the UK, there have been several new community projects which have reshaped street communities. Co-housing is an example of this. In Co-housing estates, individuals own houses but their gardens become communal areas that are shared with the whole street. Copper Lane Site in Hackney is a great example of this. Rather than having private gardens, they have a shared garden. We might not be living in new communal homes but shared communal space will be our future.
The People: Collaborating and sharing
A society based on sharing?
As well as embracing new innovative forms of planning which places the community at the centre, we are moving towards a more collaborative approach to the economy. In the so-called ‘Tweenies’, or the 2010s, we have seen the rapid growth of the sharing economy. Zip Car, AirBnB and Mealsharing are all examples of new services which allow us to share our resources rather than privately owning them. The sharing economy has allowed us to share our possessions to make money, and in some cases it also allows us to save the environment in the process. For example, By using a ZipCars or any car-sharing services means there are fewer cars on the road because people are only using them when they need to.
The sharing economy is continuing to grow and looks likely to be a fundamental way we as a society are going to share our resources in the future. Between 2017 and 2018, the sharing economy grew by 60%. Moreover, over 73% of people between the ages of 18–24 used these services.
We are all becoming increasingly empowered to change our local communities. Community-centric initiatives putting local first are popping up all over the place. In the last few years, there is the start of a movement that has started to put the local first. In London, for example, we can see this through a variety of projects. One of which is the Brixton Pound. This is a new ‘Digital Complementary Currency’ used in Brixton. It has been created to support local businesses and independent shops. As they state themselves, it has been created in order so that individuals reinvest in Kingston local area.
Technology: New knowledge
In the past three decades, technology has connected us globally. Social networks Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat have broken down barriers our barriers of communication. Previously, thirty years ago, to talk to someone required ringing their house phone, now we have a variety of different options as to how to chat with someone. We can tweet them, skype them, we can play games with them through an app.
Our ability to effectively communicate with people has changed the way we live. The increase in the number of long-distance relationships shows how technology has changed the way we live. Video-calling and messaging Apps have all meant that we can live far from our partners but still be able to almost be in the same room as them. With technology, we are now more global than ever, but in doing so we have neglected the local. Don’t worry though technology seems like it’s on a trajectory to reconnect us to the local.
In the last few years, numerous apps have been developed which have democratised our local communities. Think about just with Twitter. You have direct contact with your council and you can see what events your council is organising. Open Data is a new technological innovation for Camden Council. It allows any member of the public to collect, and analyse nearly everything within the local area. Councils have in recent years been challenged for being too distant from us. With these new apps, we can hold our representatives to account.
This article has highlighted some exciting trends in modern communities. We are moving towards a community-oriented society. We can see this in the growth of the sharing economy, the renewal of communal living and some new technological innovations.
At Halo, we want to help rebuild our communities. Our new app connects you to your local area and street.