Talk of the Town
October 1, 2019
by Lauren Pennycook, Senior Policy and Development Officer, Carnegie UK Trust
What do Dracula, Shakespeare and Eric Morecambe all have in common? These notable figures are all used by the respective towns they are associated with – by Whitby, Stratford-upon-Avon, and Morecambe – to tell the story of their town, of its past, the experiences that unite their residents, and what makes them unique.
But it is not just tales of fictitious figures, great writers or comedians that have the power to explain, unite and progress. The story of a place can be a statement of its values, or aspirations which tells others who it is, or strives to be. Storytelling is a powerful tool for developing a sense of purpose and understanding of the places where we live, that residents can identify with, and is clearly understood to external visitors. Stories – personal and collective – have the ability to bring communities together, to inspire, to connect people, and to facilitate conversations which bring about change. They enable people to support each other, finding common ground or a shared vision, in turn helping a place to thrive.
Research by the Carnegie UK Trust has found that having a clear narrative is an important part of efforts to regenerate places around the world. To support storytelling in towns in the UK, the Trust is now offering support to individuals from towns in England and Wales to tell their town’s story, in their own words. Training will be provided to help plan, articulate and present the story of the town in the hope of bringing to the surface – and into the spotlight – the stories of the places that two in five of us across the UK call home.
So what are we looking for? Firstly, enthusiasm and passion for your place. Secondly, bringing together a diverse range of people to advocate for your town. And last, but by no means least, a commitment to looking forward, not just back, to the story of the town and how it defines, explains and presents itself to the world, together.