My name is Janice Astbury and I arrived in Wester Hailes for the very first time two weeks ago. I am a community research assistant based at WHALE Arts and I am here for six months to assist local community organisations to evaluate some of the projects they have been doing with universities. I will be mainly focused on ‘Our Place in Time’ projects, including the totem pole, the social history walks code book, and the Digital Sentinel itself, but I am interested in all sorts of community activities, as well as what local residents think about living in Wester Hailes. I would like to hear about anything that will help local organisations and residents themselves to organise things that are interesting and useful to everyone here.
I have enjoyed getting to know people and places in Wester Hailes over the past couple of weeks. I like finding out about new places. I have spent a good part of my life living in Canada (mainly in Montreal) and recently lived for several years in Manchester. My first impression of Wester Hailes is that there are a lot of people doing a lot of very interesting things. I have seen all sorts of activities going on at WHALE, learned about how the Time Bank works, joined in with a gardening group organised by the Health Agency, and done some energetic walking with new friends from SCORE Scotland—and a bit of running at the Fun Run. And now I am writing my first article for the Digital Sentinel…
Another thing that I have noticed about Wester Hailes is that it has some very good places, both indoor and outdoor. I think the totem pole is very cool and I like how it stands at a crossing of ways and is visible from different perspectives. The canal is beautiful and I have been enjoying cycling and walking along it and on some of the other footpaths. I have seen that there are some interesting gardens (both allotments and Edible Estates community gardens) and I have noticed various things going on at Bridge 8 Hub. I was also struck by the nice new outdoor children’s area at Gate 55 and was pleasantly surprised to see a little market (complete with fresh vegetables) set up in the corridor the day I went over. Yesterday I enjoyed meeting for lunch at the Health Agency and visited the library for the first time for the Digital Sentinel reporter training session—I was very impressed by both these places.
In the coming weeks and months I will be spending a lot more time out and about in Wester Hailes and I encourage you to say hello if you see me and to tell me about anything you think I might find interesting (which is more or less anything to do with Wester Hailes). You can also contact me by email at Janice.Astbury@hw.ac.uk. There are opportunities to be actively involved in carrying out the community research, so please let me know if that interests you. Thank you and I hope to have the chance to meet many Digital Sentinel Readers in person!
Submitted by Janice Astbury