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Reflecting on "4x4 Manchester 2017"

Tuesday 13th June, 2017

Last month was the fourth year of our 4x4 events, arguably making it “4x4x4” if you’re as wedded to the concept as we are. The events are a series of fun and challenging talks about the urban environment, held on four consecutive Wednesday's in May.

This year our concept was The Good City?  We pondered about the morality of our urban environments, exploring the good and bad of both urban design and urban life in a series that ultimately became more about social and political issues than the physical environment itself. The need for a new venue brought us to the delightful Anthony Burgess Foundation, and each evening began in their bright bar area, surrounded by copies of A Clockwork Orange and One Handed Clapping

Each week we discussed a particular theme within the view of what makes up a Good City, "Tolerant" in week 1, "Safe" in week 2, "Welcoming" in week 3 ending with "Radical" in week 4.

In week 1 "Tolerant" our speakers - Anwar Akhtar, Emily Crompton, Mark Hammon and Giulia Vallone - took us on a journey of multicultural cities, from the LGBT movement and history in Manchester to an age-friendly Manchester and public realm works that can transform streets into vibrant spaces where the community can come together with pride. Our second evening entitled "Safe", saw our four speakers (Adrian Murphy, Alexandra King, Anna Rose and David Whyte & Vicky Cooper) helped us reflect and debate issues as well as aspirations for a safe city. Discussions spanned from "Safe by Design" and using data in a sensitive and intelligent manner to create innovative urban design solutions, to a very different and inspirational view that the austerity measures we have seen implemented can be and should be viewed as a a form of institutional violence.

In week 3 we discussed the theme of "Welcoming", unfortunately it was marked by the tragic event at the MEN and the losses of innocent lives, but we felt it was still valuable and of comfort coming together to listen to our speakers and engage in the kind of open, collegiate dialogue that felt especially important at times like this. However we didn't want the event to pass by without comment and we held a minute silence for the victims and all those affected by it. The evening certainly met our wish, we were able to listen to our inspiring speakers (Leo Hollis, Sam Stafford, Lynsey Hanley and Yasmine Nahlawi) talk about creating cities with welcoming spaces that go beyond just "placemaking", Sam gave us a fascinating view into the world of planning and market forces when it comes to housing, a reality check for many if not most in the room. Leo and Sam were followed by Lynsey and Yasmine who gave us a wonderful and personal narrative of what a welcoming city means to them, whether it's about class or an all together different origin and making a city your adopted home, meaning that a welcoming city should be a city that offers welcome refuge but is also ready to to accept help when those who have been welcomed are ready to return the help. 

Our series this year was concluded with the most well attended event of them all, "Radical", where our four speakers took us on a journey of discovering Manchester through the popular walking tours about its radical past thanks to Jonathan Schofield, and discussed with Gail Heath how the Pankhursts women are seen as radical Mancunions and called for more radical actions through deeds not words. Amina Lone shared with us her own wonderful journey of research and discovery of a route to feminism as a Muslim woman. We concluded the evening with Phil Griffin's ever captivating showcase of his favourite Manchester radical architecture.

Each event was filmed and the videos will be made available through the 4x4 Manchester website soon. 

And so another year of 4x4 concludes, we look forward to next year's already! It will be our five-year anniversary, so watch this space and we look forward to welcoming you all again. 

 

 

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