From the very beginning, Same Skies has been about building Regional Democracy up from the good stuff around us here. We are our own region and it’s up to us to take responsibility and make it even better. Instead of just resistance, cynicism or scepticism, we want to engage people in region building. Our latest initiative takes us around the many markets of West Yorkshire where we have been asking people to draw maps of their own neighbourhoods, especially the good stuff, and talking about their hopes for the future of our region. Eventually we hope to put all of these maps together, building up that regional picture from below. Our first events were at Keighley Market, Oastler Market in Bradford and Castleford Market.
On Saturday 19th May, we had a great day at Halifax Market. As you can see from the maps and the pictures below, despite (or perhaps due to) the alternative attractions of rugby league's Magic Weekend, football's FA Cup Final and the royal wedding on TV, Halifax Market drew in people from a wide area. We now have fascinating maps of Mixenden, Shelf, Elland, Sowerby Bridge, Triangle, Siddal, Illingworth, Shibden, Mytholmroyd, Northowram and Halifax itself.
As elsewhere, children would often be attracted by the colourful maps hung around our stall and adults with them would want to look at others' ideas and share their own thoughts on their home region and its future. Together families sat down to draw and chat. You can see for yourself the things that passers by valued in their neighbourhood.
It was very common for people who came to see us to talk about and draw nearby parks with swings and slides, canals and woods for walks with the dog, local clubs for children (such as cricket), streets quiet enough to play football on, schools, cinemas and pubs (there was a real contrast between the experience of people in Shelf with that of those in Mixenden which had suffered numerous pub closures). It was also noticeable how far people were willing to travel to take advantage of Halifax Market and how many of those relied on bus services.
Over time, we are building up a picture of the things that are valued most by people across West Yorkshire. The things that they want to keep, to protect and to develop. The things that exist in some neighbourhoods and that others would like for their own part of our region. Thanks to everyone for continuing to build our regional map with drawings from around Halifax – look out for us at Leeds Kirkgate Market on August 2^nd^ and at Huddersfield Market on August 15^th^.
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