A Sense of Place: Sustainable Placemaking

2nd - 5th September 2009, Eden Project, Cornwall


Martin Page

The Sense of Place Conference was so so good, and I know from experience that events like this don't just "happen". I thought it only right to congratulate Jane, the rest of the Sensory Trust Team, Tony and those from Eden, and everyone else involved, for all the hard work you will have put in.

One of the reasons I wanted to attend is because I knew if the Sensory Trust were involved in organising it, we were in for something different and special. I was so right, I cannot offer enough superlatives to describe how different and special it was.

A few examples to demonstrate the uniqueness of the event:

The relationship/partnership with Eden is far more extensive and deeper than I had previously understood.  Staff from both organisations working hard as one, to ensure the conference ran smoothly, and delivered for the delegates.  In addition the importance of, and the very positive relationship with the Carnegie Trust, I had also not previously appreciated.

The climate/culture created for the conference, set by Jane's introduction, Tony's keynote address, and his closing remarks, which were all about the outputs from the Conference being as much down to the participants being prepared to be actively involved, as it was about the speakers contributions.

That involvement is also extended to the post conference report on the website which as well as sharing the presentations, has short films capturing the essence of what the Sense of Place conferences are about.  Delegates are also requested to respond and share their thoughts, stories and ideas of the Conference.

The theme of Sense of Place, well there can be no place like presentations in the cavern! I have attended numerous conferences in towns and cities around the country, either in town halls or conference centres, and after a time they all merge, however the presentations in the cavern will long be remembered.

Continuing the Sense of Place, what about an after dark conference evening meal in one of the bio domes! Really good food (and drink), great company, lights from the floor of the bio dome, reflecting on the roof like a thousand stars, live pipes and drums music, courtesy of the delegates (I think).  Then on the way out, seeing Eden partly lit, in the dark.  The whole evening magical and intoxicating (even without the drink). Finally the speakers (mustn't forget the speakers). What other chance to meet speakers (and delegates) from different countries around the world not just the UK?  All sharing their knowledge and experiences from very different perspectives, however common themes throughout, the value, the importance, the significance of connecting with people and with places.

Another of the reasons I wanted to attend is to have an understanding of the issues associated with dementia, and I certainly came away understanding more than I did before.  If I interpret some of that correctly, wherever possible enabling dementia sufferers to pursue normal, healthy, inclusive lifestyles, is likely to have positive mental and physical impacts on the recipients (and their carers). I concluded that those of us involved in the parks and green space sector, can and should do more to enable that to happen, and I would like to pursue that, if possible in conjunction with the Sensory Trust.

One of the best Conferences I have ever attended!

Martin Page is a trustee of the Sensory Trust.