Crisps, controlled demolitions, and Snoddy.

You wanna be community engaged? Go to an evening with “East End In Flux”. Tonight’s session was in University Square Stratford at the Birkbeck University. We watched archive films about the 1941 planning of London’s rebuild, saw Snoddy moving out of his dying house into a new flat, gasped at the controlled demolition of a London tower block in an effort to revive a teetering community, and recognized the impending doom related to the coming of the DLR and the Olympics to the east end of London around 2007. It was excellent. We nattered and chatted in groups and Jan of Spitalfields gave us real- life from the horse’s mouth experiences of living in notorious “Heseltine Hutches”. Supermarkets were described as hubs rather than the poo- hoo-ed evil High Street bashers as for instance Morrisons in Stratford gives out more than bread. There’s parking, a café, a library next door with its new community hub and what’s that we chorused? Why something to put in place of the missing books.

Refreshments were laid on and all was good. The films with youth working with Fundamental Architecture Inclusion were thought-provoking and musically sound. Loved them.

At 10pm I booked to go and see June Whitfield in Dalston with Age UK then online booked in a group of Up Your Street participants to enjoy “show and tell” at Tate Britain on August 1st. All jolly.

By 11pm someone had posted on my Facebook a secret video of a barbaric brute of a ‘teacher’ beating toddlers in a Palestinian school with the caption that this is an everyday occurrence. Backward. Let me repeat…………….Backward.

East London In Flux

The thing with most community engagement activities is that the people who put on the show couldn’t care less if you’re there or not. Sometimes the engagement exercises target seniors: When they don’t then the senior wannabee participant is more than invisible. This I have known for ages and corporate engagers be wise that many oldies are on your case.

East London in Flux presented by Fundamental Architectural Inclusion d.o.b. 2003 is different to all of the above and valuable to the ethos of community engagement. It’s a programme delivered with passion. Its participants are encouraged to join in and given the confidence to do so. And the sandwiches are nutritious, full, tasty and textured.

Today the room in the University of Birkbeck in the new Stratford E15  (aka USS hosted by community outreach officer Patrice Buddington) was bursting and a-buzzin’. We came from Stratford, Hackney, Forest Gate, Leyton, Romford, Mauritius and other places north of Watford. Imagine!

As for architecure, I can’t get over the fact that the Uni building is built on one of the meanest pot-holed car-parks of back in the day. Those days when the stealthiest of creeping car-park attendants would sneak out of the shadows: Those times when the parking machine swallowed pound coins then failed to deliver the ticket. Those were the days when you left the theatre production or pre Olympic and Paralympic Games 2012 pop-up workshops early so as not to fork out another load of coins.

The main attraction of this the first in a series of presentations and day-long workshops was the architect-guided walk around the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Laid on were electric scooters, wheelchairs and taxis for the less mobile. The sun shone too. The morning session was all about how architects used any available terrain to construct the Olympic cities. Hitler’s Games came out top in the we- did- it poll not only because the construction/ideological team used media to the hilt when the concept of media as a corporate entity was not invented yet. Even the athletes’ village was great….bungalows. Ooh! give me one.

The heart-warming bit is how junior school kiddies are involved through Architectural in learning through model-making and discussion their role in the Legacy of the London 2012 Games.

Twas brillig.