Exploring and engaging in EC1

David Wilcox March 17 2021

The EC1 Echo will launch an initiative on March 31 2021 to help people re-engage locally and re-animate the area as pandemic lockdown eases. This note covers:

  • The launch article to be published in the Echo

  • How the map will work

  • Ideas for following through with more substantial mapping and storytelling initiatives in EC1

Echo article: Interact with your area

By David Wilcox

As pandemic restrictions are eased, the Echo aims to help anyone living and working in EC1, or planning visits, to re-engage and explore an area that’s so rich in heritage and attractions.

Shops, indoor leisure and outdoor hospitality venues are due to open on April 12, followed by indoor mixing in homes, pubs and restaurants on May 17. Complete easing of restrictions is planned for June 21.

With urban renewal think tank and social enterprise Create Streets, and a group led by myself, local writer David Wilcox and mapping specialist Barbara Brayshay, we are launching an interactive map inviting people to nominate their favourite places and spaces.

These could be for entertainment, meeting in the open, food and drink, worship, socialising, entertainment, or learning.

We’ll then use the information on the map in several ways that we hope will help residents, businesses and organisations. We’ll build on projects already aimed at improving connections and communications – and develop new ones.

Let’s be creative in recovering from the pandemic, and build on what we’ve learned. Keep in touch with the EC1 Echo both here and online at www.ec1echo.co.uk.

You can contribute to the map here https://communities.createstreets.com/EC1 and find updates in the News tab.

The interactive map

Copy to appear on the EC1 map

Now online here

As pandemic restrictions are eased, the EC1Echo invites you to nominate places in the area that you value and look forward to visiting.

These might be for entertainment, meeting in the open, food and drink, worship, socialising, entertainment, or learning.

The outline in the map is the Echo print distribution area - but do add other places nearby.

What do I do?

  1. Find somewhere you value, or hope to visit

  2. Click on it and choose a category!

  3. Tell us why you value the place.

We want to know the favourite places that you intend to visit once lockdown is lifted - including where you hope to meet other people you have missed.

More in the News tab on the restrictions, how we’ll use your views to support activities and connections, and further updates

Other mapping projects in EC1

Last year the plans to launch an interactive map - which wwer are now following through - were put on hold because of the pandemic. Some new mapping projects supported by Culture Mile provide a great opportunity to start a more comprehensive project telling the story of Clerkenwell and Smithfield past, present and future. Here's the original vision from an Echo article in March 2020, and a heritage trail on this site.

The Culture Mile Imagine Fund is now supporting two mapping projects:

News on the March

Through a digital map and series of oral history recordings, artist Eloise Hawser is tracing the histories of newspaper production and circulation in Square Mile. Tracking the ebbs and flows of journalists, printers, distributors, and readers across the last 250 years, Eloise will be talking to public librarians to discuss the role of libraries in disseminating the news, past and present. These will be available to download via her digital map, free to Square Mile residents and visitors.

London Walled City

The London Wall has shaped our city for nearly 2000 years. This project will look at its history, changing appearance, impact on the City, relationship with nearby buildings and those who live and work in the area through a series of prints, animations and guided tours.

The Echo featured Eloise in a lead story in February, and Paul Lincoln already has a fascinating site and initial map for his project, together with a display of his prints. Paul explains:

London Walled City will look at the history of the wall, its constantly changing appearance, its impact on its neighbourhood, its relationship with nearby buildings old and new and its role in enclosing [or maybe liberating] those who live and work nearby.

As a City of London guide and a printmaker, this project will bring together a long-standing interest in talking about the City of London with my experience of printmaking and animation. London Walled City will engage audiences in the history of the Wall and its contemporary impact on London.

In addition Islington Council's Islington Pride project will be demonstrating advanced storytelling and mapping through a Digital Landscape that highlights important locations in LGBTQ+ heritage in the borough.

This trail will allow residents and visitors of Islington to gain a greater insight into LGBTQ+ history and to highlight the importance of the subject in the borough’s heritage landscape.

The story mapping platform is provided by Humap, who developed the Layers of London project and Coventry Atlas. I think that the Humap system - subject to funding - could be an ideal platform for a second phase development of maps and stories, if others in the area were interested.

How we might further develop maps, stories and connections

With a story mapping platform we could feature local community projects now being supported by the Peel Institute Connecting Clerkenwell programme, and the community organiser team featured in the Echo. Echo stories, features, people and places could be added to a story map that has different layers, tours and trails.

There's enormous scope for featuring maps and news about the new Museum of London and other Smithfield plans Peter Bill reported in the Echo last year, as well as providing links to the many excellent walks highlighted in this article.

The Museum and Culture Mile are committed to a range of education and community engagement programmes that could be linked to EC1 maps.

Projects like Clerkenwell and Bunhill Volunteers, developed during the pandemic, will have a host of stories and connections that they might wish to share.

My vision, sparked by discussion with Mike Franks in 2019 , and more recently with Echo editor Oliver Bennett and the editorial group, is that we might develop a community platform for conversation and collaboration in EC1 combining print, maps and online communication. For me that provides a local focus for work I've done with Drew Mackie and others exploring London as a more Networked City.

Immediate developments

In the short-term we can use responses to the map to:

  • Look for connections with other mapping projects. We'll feature those in the Echo.

  • Develop a more organised "favourite places" map, probably using Maphub, which is the platform for Paul Lincoln's London Wall walk

  • Explore further development with key organisations and interests in the area

If you are interested in learning more about any of this, and perhaps joining a mapping and storytelling group for EC1, do get in touch David Wilcox david@socialreporter.com or direct message Twitter @davidwilcox.