Many of the workshops involved producing matrixes that illustrated different attitudes, hopes and fears for the future of Glasgow. Here is a combined analysis of them.
The Glasgow 2020 Matrixes
- Glaswegians find it easy to be positive
- They have faith in future public investment
- But they lack faith in changes in private behaviour
- They have confidence in cosmopolitan Glasgow
- But they believe that “gritty” Glasgow will never change
- There is also considerable uncertainty on certain key issues
The Glasgow 2020 process has focussed on two questions. What could the future be like? And what do we want the future to be like? The story telling competition was a response to the first question. The campaign to collect wishes has been about answering the second question. We used a series of workshops to have discussions that could combine answers to both these questions. The outputs of these discussions were a series of matrixes that represent differing imagined futures.
The best conversations about the Glasgow’s future are hard to record. People often have vastly different perspectives and find it hard to keep talking about one subject for more than a few minutes. In order to manage some of these conversations we devised a process to help small groups develop differing scenarios for the future of Glasgow. We ran it at the following events;
- GHA Tenant Participation Day
We ran the process simultaneously with 8 different groups of 8-20 public housing tenants.
- Glasgow Policy Makers
This was with one group of different policy makers, mainly drawn from the city council
- Northern Lites Symposium
We ran the process with four different groups. The participants were young leaders from Scandinavian and Nordic countries and architects and city planners in Glasgow.
- Glasgow Based Journalists
We ran the process with a group of 20 journalists, largely based in the BBC.
The process works as follows;
- Participants in the workshop divided into groups of five.
- All participants are asked to write down things on cards that they believe could be possible in the future and things they want to see happen.
- The facilitator collects the cards from all the groups, shuffles them and then deals them evenly out between the groups.
- The groups are sitting around the following matrix pictured in Fig 1. They deal the cards evenly amongst themselves.
- In silence they deal the cards out amongst themselves.
- The facilitator gives five minutes for each participant to silently place their cards on the corner of the grid that they think they are best fitted to.
- On completion of step 6, the group (still in silence) survey the cards. Acting on their own they turn any cards that they believe to be in the wrong position on the grid face-down. When finished they remove all face down cards from the grid.
- An appointed group leader takes each card and one-by-one the group argue and agree a position for it on the matrix.
- On completion of the exercise the group have clusters of cards in four areas; Desirable and Likely, Desirable but Unlikely, Undesirable but likely, Undesirable and Unlikely. The cards are glued down.
- In most groups we used this matrix as a spring board to developing fictional characters who live in the four different “worlds” and using them as a basis for a story. In several instances we then gave this information to an author to use, to develop a story.
We combined the different matrixes to give an overarching view of cross-cutting themes between different groups. The following four points consistently reoccurred in each group.
Easy to imagine a better future and considerable faith that it is possible
Contradicting the generic Scottish stereotype of the dour, fatalistic, “we’re doomed” Scotsman, Glaswegians appear to exhibit distinctly optimistic tendencies. The most populated side of the matrix was always the “desirable” right hand side. The upper-half marked “likely” was also better filled than the “unlikely” bottom half.
Gap between confidence in investment and changes in behaviour
Despite an inclination towards optimism, there were clearly certain things that people were more optimistic about than others. The most optimistic statements often related to expectations of significant public investment in infrastructure. So, the construction of better buildings, parks, more environmentally friendly public transport, better schools were reoccurring fixtures in the desirable and likely corner. Group participants found it much harder to express confidence in positive transitions on aspects of the future that were more closely wed to people’s behaviour. Reductions in violence, street crime, litter-dropping, vandalism, driving cars less, people exercising more regularly tended to be consigned to the desirable but unlikely corner. This gap between faith in future infrastructural investment and faith in people altering their behaviour was reflected elsewhere in the project. For example, many of the stories feature the council as an increasingly intrusive force in people’s private lives, spying on them and penalising them for not behaving in “socially positive” ways. In workshop discussions it was reflected in suggestions that the council should “solve the city’s drug problem by releasing contaminated, fatal drugs into the market”, or that “teenage single mothers should be sterilised to prevent them having children again”. This is the city that has run out of patience with itself.
The cosmopolitan city and the sectarian city
Most of the tables are a testament to a more cosmopolitan Glasgow, enriched by further immigration. This is a Glasgow that is recognised for its harmonious race relations, that has public officials and elected leaders of all races and sexual persuasions. This is a Glasgow with more “arts, culture and coffee”. Nonetheless, at the same time many of the matrixes exhibit a simultaneous grudging faith in the continuation of some of the grittier aspects of city’s culture. Sectarianism is repeatedly recognised as a consistent feature of life in the city that cannot change in the future, while the future is also unrecognisable without the “threat of random violence”.
Diffidence on shared issues
In some workshops we found that similar issues were often raised on the cards. We also found that different groups completing the exercise within the workshop often placed these similar issues in different sections of their separate matrixes. For example in the case of the group that we ran with tenants of public housing, we found that “More Café Bars”, “Less Working Class People” and “People will welcome foreign workers” appeared evenly in all areas of the chart, suggesting a certain level of diffidence on key issues.
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