Downtown Liverpool Week
Downtown Week (11-18 June 2006) is unique in the U.K. to Liverpool. Perhaps it’s a sign of a new independence of mind in our citizens that people in the city are developing this entrepreneurial event for themselves, and not because of some outside or official imperative?
‘Downtown’ is, in the words of the organisers of Liverpool’s Downtown Week 2006, ‘the beating heart of our great city, a celebration of the culture, the creativeity, the business, the new downtown living renaissance; indeed all the activities that are bringing our downtown back to life…. and, what’s more, it’s unique to Liverpool! There’s only one downtown in the UK and it’s at the heart our great metropolis!’
With enthusiasm like that, how could I deny myself the opportunity to be a part of this imaginative enterprise?
We all know about the entrepreneurial drive which moves some of the great downtown cities of the USA; here’s one Stateside bug which I really don’t mind reaching British shores.
Enthusiasm begets energy; energy begets engagement
There is a fundamental truth in the claims of downtowners:- there’s much more going on than we can ever know, but it’s both essential and fun to explore and find out as much as we possibly can. It’s a lesson also being learned, slowly and sometimes painfully, by other communities in other places.
This rich diversity, the result of centuries of ebb and flow, of enterprise and migration, is both a challenge and an enormous opportunity. It’s what Downtown Week is really about.
Scheduled events for Downtown Week include guided walks, visits to special places, commercial and retail opportunities, cultural events and whatever more various people can come up with. In the end, however, what we’re being offered is a chance to open our eyes and see what’s right before us.
As ever, it boils down to finding ways to get people to communicate and, from that, to collaborate to mutually beneficial ends. It’s an engaging and enterprising technique which many of us find valuable (c.f. Arts Based Community Development), not least because it encourages people to explore areas of possible mutual interest.
Perhaps the point is that we need Downtown Week (and other civic and cultural celebrations) precisely because otherwise, in the concrete jungle, it’s difficult to find occasions to share and jointly to develop the sorts of relationships which make life better for everyone. This is recognised in one way or another by, amongst others, the Civic Trust and my own organisation, HOPES: The Hope Street Association.
A commonality of meaning
The old-style village way of life most surely had its shortcomings, but it also had established cycles of events with meanings common to all. It is perhaps a sign of a maturing metropolis that, after many years of invisibility, Downtown is now once more coming to the fore through community programmes and celebrations.
There’s so much still to be done, but at last there are signs it’s understood people have to do it for themselves.
Liverpool’s Downtown Week is still in its infancy. Before long however the infant will be a teenager and, like all teenagers, will doubtless seek to spread its wings elsewhere. As other parts of the UK also take up the idea of celebrating the heart of their civic communities, just remember where you heard about it first – from the real thing, the cutting edge of Liverpool’s city centre, from people who actually live, work and play in Downtown Liverpool.
Posted on May 29, 2006, in Arts, Culture And Heritage, Events And Notable Dates, Liverpool And Merseyside, Politics, Policies And Process, Regeneration, Renewal And Resilience. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.