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Social Innovation for Cosmopolitan Cities


Noha is pleased to announce she has signed a book deal. She is the author of the upcoming book on Social Innovation in Cosmopolitan Cities. She has secured a publisher and the Foreword will be written by a New York Times Top Ten Best Selling author.

The book is for people who want to learn about the latest social innovations transforming people’s lives and neighbourhoods in ways that build community and conviviality across cultural boundaries. When you have read this book you will understand:

• What challenges cosmopolitan cities face to prevent segregation and conflict
• What the community needs, dissatisfactions and blockages to social cohesion are at street level
• Some of the latest ideas in tackling segregation and conflict in neighbourhoods by people, organisations and the state
• What worked in a number of international success stories
• New future possibilities for social innovation in cosmopolitan cities

The book will offer city leaders/governors ideas and models to adopt, as well as empower local people to make changes in their neighbourhoods themselves.

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MELA is part of John Thompson and Partner’s Southall masterplan success

MELA was commissioned by JTP to research the socio-cultural identity of Southall and ask the question: how can Southall’s culturally-diverse identity be an integral part of its future growth?

To really understand what is special about Southall as a place is to understand the town’s history as a focus of immigration. Although physically and spatially its built form is that of the prototypical Victorian and Edwardian industrial suburb, its socio-cultural dimension is what has changed quite radically in the past 60-70 years and accounts for the town’s nickname, ‘Little India’. With around 63% of the local population classified as ‘Asian’, and more accurately Punjabi Sikhs, Hindus and Muslims, Southall has an undoubtedly Punjabi identity exemplified in its retail offer, the cultural events and activities that take place throughout the year, and the architecture of its community halls and religious places of worship. This project explored the nature of Southall’s place identity and questioned how the Gas Works development can provide the setting for Southall’s existing and incoming communities that promotes what is special about Southall.

The project concluded Southall has a visible and distinctive Punjabi place identity in which the identities of smaller communities can co-exist. This is best exemplified in the different community niches and the creative innovations and fusions in the artistic sphere.

It may not be desirable to mimic the architectural styles and intensity of The Broadway shopping experience in the Gas Works site, but it would be a serious oversight to neglect the socio-cultural pulse of the area that makes it so special. If the Gas Works site is to be a true mixing of existing and incoming communities, the designs of buildings and public spaces should provide the setting for cross-cultural understanding. The most powerful means by which this understanding can take place is through the sharing of food, recreation, festivals, arts, and performance. Southall already has a long history of these cultural practices that can be enhanced in the new development.

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MELA launches in January 2015

It gives me great pleasure to announce the formal launch of MELA. We are excited about the prospect of working closely with organisations committed to bringing peace, harmony and a shared sense of belonging to places. Cultural diversity has for some time been seen as a problem for neighbourhoods; associated with crime, anti-social behaviour, and poverty. We believe cultural diversity is a force for good, and with the right engagement with local groups can become a source of inspiration, positive place branding, and economic success.

Join us in being part of the transformation of entire neighbourhoods!