Storytelling for Development

Mobile social media provide new opportunities for the creative capture and expression of personal memories, stories and identities. They are also beginning to allow citizens to capture and debate local news in a journalistic fashion, in new forms of civic and political engagement.

In this pilot study we aim to explore the potential of these technologies and trends in personal and community storytelling for public engagement in local development. In particular, we plan to explore the role of short digital stories about the past, present and future of a local community, in neighbourhood planning and urban design.

In this project, we are using an art and design approach to discover how digital storytelling might contribute to community engagement for urban redevelopment, and what its value is for urban design. The art of digital storytelling will be used to generate representations of the living cultural history and aspirations of an urban neighbourhood. The resulting stories will then be used to inspire urban design responses, also in the form of stories. We will study the use of resident’s stories professional architects, and by residents themselves in engagement with the local council.

Five different kinds of stories will be explored in a story arc spanning the past, present and future. 'Past' stories are those about an area’s traditions and heritage. 'Present-day' stories are those describing current uses of the built environment. 'Future' stories are those reflecting hopes and fears about the future, or visions of what a neighbourhood might become. 'Regeneration' stories are those describing personal experiences of changes to the neighbourhood. 'Design' stories are development stories of the future created by architects and urban planners in response to the community-generated stories.

The project runs from 1 February until 31 July, 2015. It is funded by the Digital Economy ‘Communities and Culture’ Network+. The team is led by David Frohlich, director of the DWRC. It includes Jocelyn Spence, also at the DRWC; Tom Barrett and Trisha Boland, the project’s Local Government partners at London Borough of Lambeth; John Letherland, the project’s Company partner at Farrells architect planners; and Marialena Nikolopoulou, Professor of Sustainable Architecture at the University of Kent.