How to create great green urban spaces

How to create great green urban spaces

Our first face-to-face meeting on Tuesday 22 September in BrewStone, Uplands was a great success! We welcomed both Uplands Living Streets members and people from all over Swansea, all united in their interest in making our communities more green and people-friendly.

Dr Ben Reynolds of Urban Foundry spoke about 20 Minute Neighbourhoods, giving us an insight into how good urban design can make all the difference in creating friendly, connected, and economically successful places where everyone enjoys living and working.

And none of this is new! The Victorians knew instinctively what makes a great place to live, and we can see this in the street layout and connectedness we all enjoy in Uplands.

The big takeaways from Dr Reynolds’ talk?

    • All the cities we love and enjoy visiting are designed around the same principles, which ensure that people have priority over cars.
    • Mixed use is important – shops, mixed with housing, and short connected blocks of buildings with ‘active frontages’ make for places which are vibrant and safe, both during the day and at night.
    • Well-designed cities are those that encourage people to linger – to sit and chat with friends, shop, eat, and socialise.
  • Footfall in shops and businesses increases in urban spaces that prioritise pedestrians, whereas spaces designed for cars actually turn out to be business un-friendly.

Research from all over the world shows that great urban spaces aren’t difficult to create, it just needs the will of people to work together. And when they do, green urban spaces are great news for business, the environment and the community.

Join us for more interesting talks and activities in the months ahead; let us know if there’s a topic you’d like to discuss, or a speaker you’d like to hear! 

Dates for your diary

Saturday 22nd October, 11.00am, Uplands Living Streets Family Walk. Come along and find out more about the history of our great local parks.

December (date and venue to be announced), Christmas Living Streets meeting and social.

Contact us here: Uplandsswanseagroup@livingstreets.org.uk

Onwards and Uplands! Ymlaen Yplands!

Have Your Say!

If you haven’t had a chance yet to tell us your views about how to make Uplands & Brynmill cleaner, greener and more pedestrian friendly, NOW is the time!

We have 6 suggestions in our Uplands Living Streets manifesto and we want to know which are the top three for Uplands and Brynmill residents. We will then ask our Councillors to adopt the three most popular and work with us to make them happen!

Find our 6 suggestions on this form: Uplands Living Street Manifesto

Please let us know your top three by sending the form back to us at: uplandsswanseagroup@livingstreets.org.uk by Monday 10th January.

Thank you and Nadolig Llawen.

How to live longer….

In Uplands last week I met three people I hadn’t seen in ages. It was great to chat (albeit at a distance), and afterwards I got that warm feeling of being anchored in my community. 

It reminded me of a well-known research study, undertaken in the U.S. some years ago where academics were trying to find out why residents of a small town in America were unusually long-lived. 

The people were largely of Italian heritage, and so early studies theorised that it might be the Mediterranean diet that was beneficial. 

Other studies thought that it might be the influence of high levels of attendance at Church that was having a protective effect, whilst later researchers looked at the consumption of red wine, and others measured smoking rates. 

But when all these factors were taken into account, none of them appeared to be especially important. The only thing that was strikingly different about the population, and which appeared to be enabling people to live longer than the average American citizen, was the fact that people in the town took time to talk to each other, on the street, on a regular basis. It was a big part of peoples’ everyday routine to stop and chat to neighbours, to sit on public benches and discuss the issues of the day, and spend time catching up with people whilst out shopping.

And I think that’s one of the great things about Uplands—people do stop and chat. But it got me thinking about how much better it could be if we had a couple of benches to sit on—so we could rest our legs and just have those little conversations with strangers that can be so important.

 And just imagine if we could slow the traffic down a bit so that we could hear the birds in the trees, and we could take our time crossing the roads! 

At one of our Living Streets meetings recently an officer from the Highways Department described Uplands as having an enormous catchment for traffic, which doesn’t make it a nice place to be if you are a pedestrian. With what we know from research about pedestrian-friendly spaces encouraging more footfall to shops, and that having pleasant space to stop and chat can actually lead to longer life, now feels like a good time to get together and come up with some ideas for greening our mainstreet. We need to chat more – it’s good for us! – and to do that we need safer, quieter streets where pedestrians take priority!

 

If you’d like to get together with John and Jane to look at options for traffic calming in Uplands, contact us on: uplandsswanseagroup@livingstreets.org.uk

Notes from our January Meeting

Thanks to Jane and Brigid for compiling these very comprehensive notes of our January Meeting which took place on Saturday 9th Jan 2021 via Zoom.  We were pleased to have Matt Bowyer from the council’s Highways department joining us to answer questions, as well as Neil Barry from Swansea Community Growing.

Click here to view the notes:  Living Streets Meeting Notes Jan 2021

The next meeting will take place via Zoom on Saturday 6th March at 10:30am, all are welcome, please email us for the Zoom meeting link!

Update on the Slow Ways

Here is some information about a new project called Slow Ways, shared by one of our members, Brigid Haines.
Although not part of Living Streets, Slow Ways will be of interest to walkers and those interested in the benefits it can bring to us all.

 

Slow Ways

We’re making a people-powered walking network for Great Britain and we need all the help we can get!

The basic principle behind the Slow Ways project is that we should be able to walk reasonably directly, safely, easily and enjoyably between neighbouring settlements. We should also be able to combine Slow Ways routes for longer walks if we want to too. Being able to do this will lead to more people walking, more often, for more reasons and more purposes.

We’ve made a great start. During lockdown 700 volunteers drafted over 7,000 Slow Ways routes that connect all of Great Britain’s towns and cities as well as thousands of villages.

We are focussed on Great Britain for now, but plan to collaborate with people on Ireland next.

 

The Challenge

The next challenge is to walk, test, review, record, verify and enjoy all of the Slow Ways routes that have been drafted.

That means checking over 100,000km of routes, the equivalent of walking 2.5 times around the equator.

This sounds like a big job, but shared between 10,000 volunteers – individuals, established groups, new groups and collaborators – we’d need to walk an average of just 10km each. We could do that over a weekend…right?

 

Work in progress and next steps

We are currently developing a website that will host all of the Slow Ways routes. This website will enable anyone to search, browse, share and download any of the Slow Ways routes for free. It will also handle thousands of people reviewing, verifying and sharing routes on an ongoing basis.

We want the website to be available as soon as possible, but it’s going to be a few weeks yet as we put funding in place to support the project and develop the website.

There are some things you can do to help now though.

  1. Know someone who likes walking? Please invite them to sign-up!
  2. Are you a member of a group that might be up for checking a Slow Way route? Let us know by registering your group here.
  3. Connections with your local council? Ledbury Town Council was the first to officially support Slow Ways, passing a council motion to promote the project to local residents. Why not ask your civil, parish, town or local council to support the project too?

If you can’t wait to get started (we don’t blame you), help to spread the word by going on a walk between two towns, cities or villages. Share your journey using the hashtag #SlowWays – say where it is, and perhaps why you walked it. If you are on Twitter tag us @SlowWaysUK.

Got more questions? Please read our FAQs.

We will not email often. When we do we’ll have something to say, so please do open our newsletters when they land in your inbox. For more frequent updates and informal sharing please see our Twitter stream.

Our team is a small one, thank you for your patience as we pull this big project together.

And thanks so much for your interest and enthusiasm – to date and in the coming months. We’ll be back in contact again when we have more to report. We might like slow things, but we can’t wait to get going!

Let’s Walk: Walking for Health, and for Fun

Starting Tuesday 15 September

Tuesday, 9.15-10.30.

Let’s Walk: Walking for Health, and for Fun is a weekly group walk starting from the Swansea Wellbeing Centre (on the corner of Walter Road and Burman Street, SA1 5PQ) and exploring the local green spaces. Each week we will head for a different venue, for example Victoria Park and the beach, the Vetch Community Gardens, St James Gardens, Cwmdonkin Park and Rosehill Quarry. There’ll be a chance to exchange information and knowledge about health and wellbeing, mindfulness, the natural world, and of course Swansea local history – whatever interests you.

The first session is a free taster and is open to all.

After the first session the walks are in blocks of 6, payable in advance, at £7 per session. For health and safety reasons, the group is capped at 10.

Brigid Haines is an experienced walks leader who is most at home in the great outdoors. She feels privileged to live in Swansea, a green city by the sea with its marvellous parks and coastline. She believes passionately in the mental and physical health benefits of exercising in nature: it not only benefits the body, it also calms the mind. Exercising in nature does not have to mean sweat and tears, it is for everyone, whatever their natural pace. And a walking pace is perfectly suited to really noticing our natural surroundings; it promotes mindfulness. Walking together in a group also promotes a sense of connection to our local community.

Brigid is also an accredited Funerals Celebrant with Humanists UK.