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Tackling the Future with We Are Here Hull

Ever feel like you’re just one tiny voice amongst many? With so much going on in the world, it can be difficult to believe that our thoughts and opinions really count. But we all deserve to have a say in the future and how we want things to look. Which is why our members have been working alongside the campaigning group Rights Community Action on We Are Here Hull - a project that transforms complex issues into stories that everyone can connect with. 

Founded in 2019, Rights Community Action is a network of campaigners, lawyers, planners, facilitators, writers, and scientists with one thing in common: a desire to tackle the Climate Emergency in a way that values the input of communities. Too often, the conversation surrounding such issues is limited to academic circles, with everyday people - many of whom are already experiencing the effects of climate change - cut out of the narrative. But what if we could remove the barriers that prevent communities from joining the discussion?

Rights Community Action facilitates creative communication, enabling local people to show what they want their future to look like - and empowering experts to change the rules that hold them back. As part of this mission, the organisation launched We Are Here, a campaign for a fairer planning system.

Why We Are Here?

Unfortunately, modern planning decisions are often made by those with only corporate interests at heart, rather than by companies committed to protecting our fragile ecosystem. And as a result, our green spaces are rapidly disappearing while many of our historic buildings face an uncertain future. Thanks to We Are Here, though, several communities across the UK are learning the tools needed to shift this dynamic.

Hull is one of four We Are Here locations and the only one in northern England. In our previous blog post, we spoke about how our city has the second-highest number of properties at risk of flooding after London. And with this risk hanging constantly over their heads, local residents can struggle to feel settled in their communities.

“Hull is my home, and what would any person want from their home? Safety, comfort and a sense of belonging. 

I often ask myself do any of these really apply when there is a risk of flooding which could wipe out everything I have ever known in my home town.” - Hull resident. 

What is We Are Here?

Developed in collaboration with TimeBank members, We Are Here Hull is a creative project that seeks to amplify local thoughts, hopes, and fears surrounding climate change. By working with the community to produce a series of art works and happenings, the initiative has given the people of Hull the opportunity to speak out on issues close to their hearts.

In the past, We Are Here Hull has produced some beautiful and thought-provoking work, such as this short film showcasing a series of stark messages and warnings beamed onto some of Hull’s best-known landmarks. 

TimeBank members also collaborated on a community mapping mural, giving local residents the chance to map existing services and infrastructure and project their desires for the future onto a physical representation of the city. In the video on this page, you can see how the process helped members of the community to feel engaged in the fight for change.

And it’s not all been serious work, either - we also found time to create a surreal mockumentary set in a flooded future, which can be seen further down the page. After all, sometimes humour is the best way to confront a truth that grows more and more frightening by the day.

As a direct result of this work, We Are Here Hull has gathered a collection of “BIG ASKS” - the thoughts and ideas of a community squaring up against climate change. And now it’s time for the next stage. With the help of Naomi and Hugh from Rights Community Action, we’ll be taking these ideas and using them to shape policies which will be taken to the council and beyond. With Hull’s controversial Local Plan up for review, this is the perfect opportunity for local residents to make their voices heard.

In April, We Are Here Hull will be hosting two events, each aimed at taking the project to the next level. On Thursday 25th April from 6pm - 8pm there will be Dinner & Policy, during which Naomi and Hugh will talk us through the policies that they have drafted and invite local feedback on the process. Then, on Friday 26th April from 9am - 11am there will be Breakfast & Planning, which will explore case studies in planning. There will also be an opportunity for anyone facing their own planning dilemmas to get feedback and advice from those in the know.

These events are open to anyone who is interested in building a sustainable future in Hull and further afield. They’re also free to attend, although we recommend reserving a place via the links above.

According to experts, much of Hull could be underwater by as early as 2050 if something isn’t done to tackle climate change and prevent rising sea levels. So we believe it’s time for the local community to take a proactive approach. If you want to get involved, please come along to these upcoming events and learn more about We Are Here Hull.

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