We’ve not asked tightly drawn questions because we don’t want to lose ideas, memories, experiences that people might think don’t fit the mission of bringing the Town Hall back into our community. So we have “no holds barred” results.
Have a look at the Wordle below – it summarises what people have said – the bigger the letters the more people mentioned it. There are surprising omissions – if an activity or event you want is not mentioned here (or is not big enough) please complete the survey form on the 300 Conversations page. If you can, join one of our Zoom chats – lively, short, informal, people like you.
Don’t just assume it will be mentioned – please tell us direct, that’s what makes it usable in our plans
After the first few days of the 300 conversations programme we already have some new directions. The team report:
“An amazing 42 conversations in our first week across survey, social media and online meetings. Some great ideas for future Town Hall use from ping pong clubs to flexible childcare, conferences to world cinema. Strong themes are emerging around providing activities for the 12 to 15/16 age group and making the Town Hall a place that is in constant mixed use, giving the High Street a real buzz.
Can’t wait for next week!
Have a conversation anytime through social media, survey, leaflets or book on to our online get togethers, every Wednesday, Thursday and Friday for the next 3 weeks.”
It is amazing what Facebook and social media can do – sometimes it reminds me of French village cafes – lots of people meeting, talking, arguing but underneath being part of a community.
Last week someone posted on Porty People that they had just bought, on Etsy, an interesting new picture of Portobello Baths – and showed their purchase. Immediately, we thought that was just the style for a warm, friendly picture of our favourite Town Hall.
Quickly, we were in touch with the artist, Rhanna Baldwin, who is a Portobello person, danced in the Town Hall, whose family run a hairdresser in Porty. A Match!
Not only that she offered to make the picture and allow Portobello Central to use it as we wish. She is selling the Baths and Town Hall pictures on her Etsy site – if you want your own copies. We are are very grateful to Rhanna. We have put the picture on the website and you will see it in other places too.
Meanwhile we are getting right into our 300 Conversations – you can join in – they are just 30 minute sessions but they give us a real picture of what you want from the Town Hall when it comes back to us. Make yourself a good French-style coffee and book into a session!
We are getting underway to have 300 conversations in 30 days about what people want from Portobello Town Hall. Our websites is open (you know that, you are reading this), our Facebook page has almost 900 members, our mailing list is growing.
“Conversation” can mean anything – a Twitter chat, an email exchange and we are trying out Zoom meetings (which could be 1:1 or a bigger group) and if you have a good way of engaging with us please get in touch.
What do we want to know?
There is a glorious history of over a century of activity: remind us of what that was.
There are the alternatives that you may have been using in recent years
The way in which community life runs is bound to change (at least for some years) so how can the Town Hall, our biggest space, contribute?
And, even if you can’t see how to do what you want to do, let us know and we will find people to work out alternatives.
Sign up to our mailing list – that’s how we can set up our conversation with you.
The Portobello Central Group is now looking at ways we might resume work on making a solid proposal to the City of Edinburgh Council for the Town Hall – probably in the late summer.
To do that we have to re-engage with the community and revise our ideas for using the building in a social-distancing era. We also recognise that the economy is changing, with consequences for everyone. Even so, we reckon that providing a central place for Portobello life is possible, do-able and desirable.
Facebook has been rumbling – is something going to happen to bring the Town Hall back to life?
Well, yes. That’s a bit tentative as there are many things to sort out but so far the group has not hit a showstopper.
The group? At the end of January a small group got together to follow through an excellent meeting held in August 2019 at Bellfield. That meeting revealed just how many different uses there had been for the building and how more could be found.
The job this time is different as the City of Edinburgh seems willing to hand over the building to the right lessee, with repairs to be handled by the new tenant. The Council allowed a wider group including architects, lighting and sound people, prospective users to spend a couple of hours understanding the building, its potential and problems.
Overall, it seems in not bad condition. The rumours (as rumours do) had painted a picture of devastation and imminent collapse – there was not much sign of that. Even so, some has to certify that it safe – and that will happen. Money is needed but not all at once, a phased programme of repairs and refurbishment is being worked up. Leave the complexities to the group.