By Katie Raw, University of Leeds Undergraduate studying Human Geography.
I became involved with the East Leeds Project after connecting with its Directors. Having discussed how my background in social geography could further the ambitions of the organisation, I was thrilled to have the opportunity to put my skills into practice as part of an important cultural project in an area with little cultural infrastructure.
Academically, my interests centre around cultural and social geography, and particularly the socio-cultural elements of interactions and space. I am also a creative practitioner and have been heavily involved in dance throughout my life.
Throughout my Human Geography degree, I have undertaken a number of spatial mapping activities. With the University of Leeds known as the pioneers of spatial analysis research, Leeds’ human geography graduates are nationally recognised for their strength in this field. I have been lucky enough to work with some amazing professors, some of who even built the programmes that I am using today!
Previous projects using GIS (Geographical Information Systems – programmes for spatial analysis research) were centred on the retail sector. Last year, I tested the viability of a new out-of-town development for a major Grocery brand by mapping local geodemographic information, as well as supply and demand data. Now, I am mapping stores in the local area using a variety of data sources to determine how the client can improve market share.
As well as finding mapping and quantitative analysis a challenging yet rewarding proposition, my strength in the study of human geography also concerns social and cultural areas, including migration. The subject of my final year dissertation is an exploration of the emergence of a recreational drug culture across the student population.
East Leeds Makers is part of a Workplace Cooperative Project Module as part of my degree. As well as being motivated by the opportunity to apply academic, research-based theories in an area previously unexplored, I am also excited on a personal level by the prospect of meeting new communities in the city and collecting qualitative data through face-to-face interviews and as well as through an online and paper survey.
At the time of writing, the project has just kicked off, with interviews with residents of East Leeds. Early findings are already outlining the issues at play – a lack of spaces in which to work, meet and share, a lack of opportunities, support and a sense of isolation from activities taking place in other areas of the city.
But it is evident what East Leeds does not lack – creative spark – we’ve already had discussions with artists, graphic designers and film makers as well as people engaged in crafts like woodwork, clothes making and designing greetings cards.
So, watch this space – the East Leeds Makers mapping project is up and running. If you haven’t had the opportunity already, we would be grateful if you could participate and allow us to successfully complete our project, before we publish our findings in the summer of 2019.
East Leeds Project
Undergraduate Placement from the University of Leeds