Wealthy city workshop

Year | 2015
Location | Sheffield city centre, UK
Client | Ruth Nutter, Producer, Ruskin in Sheffield

“There is no wealth but life” John Ruskin.

The ‘Wealthy City Walks’ Live Project delivered a series of 9 guided walks to over 120 people around Sheffield city centre. Based on a contemporary reinterpretation of John Ruskin’s ideas of wealth, over 6 weeks the live project group encouraged members of the public attending the walks to think about where they see wealth in Sheffield.

We developed the brief by creating a wider walking network map. The map shows different lines of wealth through Sheffield, each represented as a different colour. The idea of the map is to create your own walk by hopping from one line to another, experiencing each aspect combined as Ruskin intended. The Wealthy City Walks map of Sheffield presented six themed routes through the city; the independent trade line, the street art line, the social activity line, the art and culture line, the nature line and the history line. Our walk stopped at one point on each of the lines. We asked questions throughout to provoke personal input from the participants.

Following the walks we invited participants to get involved in postcard writing workshops, gathering a rich and varied set of over 130 messages about where people find wealth in their own lives as well as in Sheffield. These postcards were shown at the Ruskin Reviewed exhibition in the Millennium Galleries before being sent back to the writers, reminding them of their own thoughts in the future. More than half the messages expressed people, nature and history as key things in the city that provide wealth.

The large postcard that was addressed to the Sheffield City Council became a platform for people’s voices to be heard on where they believe wealth is needed in Sheffield. It was highlighted that historic conservation was important along with social and economic action. If these ideas are listened to, development of Sheffield will result in a sustainable, wealthy city to live in.

We also produced a ‘Design your own walk kit’ to enable people to explore wealth in any city by becoming their own tour guide. It included the hand made badges, balloons, childrens activity sheet, a route decision making game, maps, postcards, as well as a postcard picture book of the ‘thoughts’ about wealth we have collected and a Guide book of the specific walk we held. This included how we achieved the walks so that others can create their own. It is our hope this kit and our newly found knowledge of John Ruskin can be used to experience other cities in a new light.

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