A new kind of event

Next week sees the inaugural Re:Fest!, a gathering of regeneration  people which hopes to break some rules, and raise some spirits.

It will take place in Nottingham, on a ‘live’ regeneration site – a disused secondary school – and is the brainchild of regeneration queen Jackie Sadek, and writer & commentator Ross Sturley.

ReFest is not a conference. It is not a corporate gathering. It is a festival focussing on all that is great in the regeneration sector.

While there will be a programme of speakers such as Bill Grimsey, the veteran retailer who has just published his alternative review of the high street, calling for increased community facilities and participation and less retail (yes, you heard it, less retail), the main events will be those brought along by the delegates themselves. It’s an ‘unconference’, where the content is not determined by some committee of grandees, but by the people who come along – by the people, for the people!

So Re:Fest! is part conference, part gallery, mostly user-generated, a big sharing experience, a celebration, and aims to be 100 % uplifting and reaffirming. As well as communicating excellence in practice, and providing a forum for debate and discussion, it aims to regenerate the regeneration community itself, providing sustenance and support, and giving its people renewed energy and determination.

And it’s definitely all new. This experiment in regeneration events, an antidote to the sterile procession of lectures conference format, has attracted a wide range of people who will be bringing along their show and tell, to, er, show and tell. Such as….

  • Festival Knowledge Swap  will encourage the sharing and promoting of skills – an interactive hub where we collect people’s ideas on engagement, grassroots regeneration & the areas where people want more knowledge, and then share this information building a narrative and collaborative display over the two days which gathers the collected knowledge and ideas of attendees.
  • Regeneration Confessional: Enough of what ‘works’!! This is a ‘truth and reconciliation’ commission for regeneration. Where we share the not so great practice of the past, and create a list of lessons we’ve learned the hard way. Tweet your confessions to @RegenConfess
  • Meeting Nottingham – a live consultation on participants perceptions of the brand of Nottingham. Attendees post images they take on their way in to the city on a photo wall, and give comment – good or bad!
  • Disruptive Digital Urbanism –  the Smart City is the latest conference, book and consultancy selling nomme du jour but has only skirted its possibilities to support regeneration. This session will explain some of the biggest current trends in smart cities, the Internet of things and big data, looking to generate ideas and collaborations that support local regeneration.
  • North vs South – not the American Civil War, but the battle of the divide. Why does it even still exist? I think we know. What can we do about it?
  • Changing Lenton – A continuous display of plans for the regeneration of Lenton school in to a new community, and moderated discussion with the professional team, development partners, and community groups
  • Lost & Found – a photo exhibition of images by local Sandfields photographers about Sandfields which aims to inspire.
  • Citizen Science – a recent pop up shop incorporating science busking activities that help people express what they want for an area. Learn about how it works, and tell the busjers what you want to find out. See what you can learn, and how you could use Citizen Science in your projects.
  • The Incredible Movement (TIM) in York, has moved a fair few hills, if not mountains, bringing a diverse range of organisations and people around the idea of food as a starter for wider regeneration activity. How can The Incredible idea spread wider, and do more?
  • #Changify walkshop – this will help crowdsource, solve and fund a better Lenton – We’ll walk around, spot planning issues, chalk ratings, snap photos to a realtime tweet index; then regroup post-walk to hack a solution model of your ideal Lenton to take home.

The event is on September 17 & 18 in the former Lenton School in Nottingham. It’s free to attend. You can register, and see more information, at http://regenerationfestival.wordpress.com.

Come on, you know you want to!

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