‘Where are you from?’ might be one of the most common questions people get asked but it’s a surprisingly tricky one to answer.
We recently ran a workshop for local residents or workers. We asked participants to say “where do you tell people that you live/work?”. You can see their answers below:
The most common answers were Islington and Angel with Clerkenwell third. There were a whole host of other answers, including Kings Cross, Farringdon, Angel, Finsbury, Sadlers Wells, Barbican, Central London, and Mount Pleasant. When asked to vote which word most resonated with people, participants placed stickers on Clerkenwell but not in overwhelming numbers.
As with most places, this part of the world has a complex history, which people interpret in different ways. A variety of people live here, from different backgrounds, in hyperlocal neighborhoods with an ununified nature and fractured identities.
One of the great promises of ‘placed based working’ is that we can build a sense of belonging by bringing people together on the basis that they’re neighbours. That may well be the case, but, ironically, which name we choose to use for the neighbourhood can exclude people or send signals which we may not fully understand.