Platform. The everyday portal for sharing knowledge and intelligence on sustainability across Greater Manchester.

(c) Peter Fuchs

Turn up the volume on the values of sustainability

They also introduce a new series to Platform, 'Turn Up the Volume', which is designed to create a learning log of different debates and events around Greater Manchester.


As researchers we have a lot of meetings with different stakeholders across the public, private and voluntary sectors. We are often told that there is a lack of space and time to talk about and reflect on the sustainability of Greater Manchester. People often enjoy these discussions and comment that they offer a 'space' - outside of the constraints of working life - to reflect on their assumptions, priorities and values.  This is good to hear - research should be a two-way process of value to both the researcher and the 'researched'.

Yet it is also surprising. Once you have signed up for different mailing lists - and know where to look - there is a multitude of events, discussion groups, seminars, workshops, focus groups, festivals, panel debates, networks, lectures which deal with different aspects of the city-regional agenda. There are so many spaces to talk and discuss that it is impossible to attend or engage with them all.

Examples include New Economy's breakfast briefings, Cities @ Manchester's Urban Fora, Steady State Manchester's series of talks, MIF Biospheric talks on science and the environment, seminars organised by Centre for Local Economic Strategies - the list goes on.

At first glance this appears to be a contradiction: we are told we need more spaces to talk; we also hear the plea that we need to stop talking and start doing .

Is this a conflict? We think not.

The issue is that there is a missing middle between talking and doing - learning. Without learning, discussions are piecemeal and not joined up. Often, alternative values and priorities are being clearly articulated for a different kind of urban system - which integrates economic, social and environmental values for a more sustainable urban future. Yet the danger is that these possibilities get lost in the din.

We need to turn up the volume. As part of the Greater Manchester Local Interaction Platform's aspiration to raise the visibility of alternative forms of sustainable urbanism, through bridging the gap between policy-makers and community interests, Platform is launching a series of blogs called 'Turn Up the Volume'. 

We will be engaging in spaces that exist for the articulation of alternative values, listen in on different conversations and create a context for people to learn and reflect.  This includes events on community engagement; the localism agenda; diffuse pollution; ethnic diversity; economic growth and the notion of prosperity; the role of urban agriculture; and how to create a just city. 

We hope this will create a learning log, published here on Platform.  Short event reports will capture background information,  central questions, main points, and implications for policy, practice and research for individual events.   We would also like to invite organisers of all kinds of events to share their own reflections and publish those on Platform. It's an experiment, one that we hope will create a basis for further dialogue and open up new opportunities for linking reflection with actions in the development of a sustainable Greater Manchester.

Find out more:

Values and Learning in Urban Environments

GM Local Interaction Platform

Turn Up the Volume includes:



Image of speaker front in the studio Rockranch by Peter Fuchs via Flickr.