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Countdown to Humans of Hilgrove Launch even

Welcome to our new blog!

Every Wednesday in September we invite you behind the scenes of our work on Humans of Hilgrove, our residents-led arts exhibition on the Hilgrove Estate in Camden.

Hilgrove Resident and Community Organiser, Kaamila, will share her experience of living on the estate and being a part of the community action taking place.

See life on Hilgrove through her eyes as she tells us in her own words about growing up on the estate and working with North Camden Zone.

As community organisers (aka COs) we care about improving the estate we live on and creating links with one another that will benefit everyone in the long run. We're here to encourage dialogue where residents can share what works best in our community, so that we can identify and explore what can be changed.

These aims inspired Humans of Hilgrove, our first project on the estate. We want to use an arts exhibition to provide a platform for residents to share stories. Through this, we were able to gather insights into their grievances regarding living on the estate, such as the maintenance of the buildings.

Many of you may be wondering how we were able to create a community-led art exhibition? A lot of work and planning has gone into creating this exhibition from photoshoots, post-production, liaising with the council and balancing this project with our other commitments.

The first thing we needed were participants, so a couple of us COs went door to door recruiting. Some of us were more successful than others. Quick shout out to one of our COs, Fateha, who practically recruited 90% of our participants. Without her contribution this exhibition would have been a massive fail.

Once we found willing participants, we interviewed each person and took quick portraits of them. You will notice when you visit the exhibition next month that we have some photos of pets. Yes, I know the title of this project is Humans of Hilgrove, but some of our residents didn't feel comfortable with images of themselves, therefore, we used their pets as a substitute!

During this process, we we have learnt so much about the estate and its residents. Our oldest resident participant Elizabeth, who is 97 years old, told us about her son, Steve Laffy. He was one of 13 local residents who reclaimed the derelict Winchester Arms Pub in the 1970s. This group eventually became the Winch, our parent charity. Just a bit of local history on my own street that I never knew about.

Over the past few months, there have been so many highs and lows. From meeting the amazing residents of the estate, flyering in 30-degree weather and learning how to use camera equipment. All the stress, sweat and rejection will be all worth it, once we launch the exhibition and share it with the public. Dare I say it, I'm so ready to move on to our new project. But first, we need to wrap up this one.

As we begin planning the launch week, I've begun to think about what impact, if any, our project might have. My main concern is that this project and those to come will only have short-term outcomes. How do we maintain momentum and increase outreach to have long-lasting benefit to our residents?

I'll reflect on this and what's next for our band of residents next week. Have a good week!

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