By Geraldine Blake
East London last summer was the focus of unprecedented interest and scrutiny. As the rosy glow that the Olympics and Paralymics engendered in the whole nation begins to fade, Community Links is committed to securing a “Living Legacy” so that the future of east London builds on the enormous potential of the people who live here rather than further excludes them.
The Olympics Park is one of the smaller regeneration programmes in east London in recent years – but it’s the one that really catches the imagination. The Olympics came to East London on the strength of the story they told about the young, diverse and entrepreneurial population, and for the legacy they promised to provide. But the Olympics is only one part of our opportunity – across east London we’ve seen unprecedented physical development, together with a new level of business focus and interest in east London. This is matched by the boundless resilience and innovation of those who live and work here and a sense amongst the most excluded – especially those who watched, volunteered at, or took part in the Games – that people are starting to believe that east London might just be the most special place to be.
We won’t see these factors all at once again in our lifetimes, so we need to seize the moment now. Because the wall around the Park has gone back up, and the media are pouncing on every opportunity to moan that the Legacy is failing. Every day we wait, every miserable defeatist message, results in local people becoming disillusioned and disengaged. And by the time the wall comes down again, we will have lost another generation. We’ll have some really lovely shiny buildings and some wonderful green spaces but they will still be surrounded by entrenched exclusion.
Our Vision is a Living Legacy: a generation that no longer says ‘I can’t’ but says ‘I’m ready’. We want the communities living on the doorstep of the Olympic Park to be ready for anything, to know that they have potential, and understand how to seize the once in a lifetime opportunities we see here.
In January 2013 New Start published a series of articles on the regeneration of east London. Including an interview about Community Links work in the area. The series attracted a lot of interest and there is an opportunity to continue the conversation with partners and friends working in our region. We plan to get together to both celebrate the local innovations over the last decade and think about how we can collaborate on some of the challenges of the forthcoming decade.
Community Links, is hosting an event initiated by New Start – together with Renaisi, The Young Foundation, Hackney Co-operative Developments, Shared Intelligence, OCSI and the Kaizen Partnership to assess the changes in east London and help to map the policies and projects that will enable inclusive, sustainable and just communities for its residents.
If you would like to take part in this event 9am -12.30 on 4th March, you can register online.
Photograph by www.amritandnaroop.com