The Ideas Hub was born out of a project called ‘Changing Chelmsford’ (more details below), supporting the first Chelmsford ‘Ideas Festival 2012’. Mick McDonagh, manager of High Chelmer Shopping Centre, kindly provided a space as a Business sponsorship to the Ideas Festival to run events.
The Ideas Hub continued to occupy the space after the Festival, and the founders of the Ideas Hub continued to look at ways to support the local community using this space. Leonie Ramondt, director of the Festival of Ideas with co-founders Heather Hall and Yogesh Taylor named the space the “Ideas Hub”.
The Ideas Hub became a place of exchange of information and network building distinct from the councils. It acted and still acts as a catalyst between the statutory authorities, business, community groups and individual pro-active changemakers.
The Ideas Hub became a charity in October 2015 and Edith Miller took over management in March 2016. It lost its venue in September 2017 and relocated in August 2018 in Chelmsford Library where it hopes to establish there for the long term, providing mutual support to both organisations, which have much in common in serving and supporting the local community.
The History of ‘Changing Chelmsford’
As mentioned above, the Ideas Hub emerged from a project called ‘Changing Chelmsford’. Responding to the 2008 Borough Council ‘action plan’ for the town centre, a collaborative project was created in 2010 between the Royal Society of Arts, the Academy of Urbanism, Chelmsford Borough Council and Essex County Council called “Changing Chelmsford”. The project was to work collaboratively with diverse sections of Chelmsford’s local community (a wide range of local people, organisations, and self-organising initiatives as well as local schools, colleges and universities):
Innovation: To explore comparator towns and cities to establish the ingredients to enable the town to become a more innovative and successful place
Emerging Potential: To understand Chelmsford’s emerging potential within the broader context of Essex and the wider region
Strategic vision for the town: To build a vision retaining links with the past while creating an identity for the future
The outcomes of this process include:
Chelmsford Civic Society: was revitalised
Historic Buildings: As part of the wider initiative, three important local heritage buildings – Marconi, Anne Knight and Shire Hall – were restored and turned into proper use again
City Status: The project was part of the preparations for Chelmsford being awarded ‘city status’ in 2012 after winning a competition to mark the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee
Festival of Ideas: This new local festival was set up in 2012 to offer a programme of stimulating events and activities exploring:
– uses for vacant or underutilised spaces for community use
– safeguarding local heritage
– Strengthening the City Identity
The Ideas Festival, with the strong support of Anglia Ruskin University* provided a boost to individual projects and opened up leads for the coming months. For example:
• Chelmsford Transition (as part of the Transition Network: www.transitionnetwork.org) was created and set up a community allotment.
• CRACL (Chelmsford rivers and Canal link) looked at how the City rivers could improve Chelmsford.
• Local organisations worked in partnership on projects. Students from ARU and Writtle Universities worked together to build a “Wiki house”.
* financial support, and the support from Dr Nezhapi-Delle O’Deleye, Course Leader and Faculty Director of Research Students, and the Faculty of Science and Technology, Engineering and the Built Environment.
You can support us by volunteering, organising and attending events, and/or making donations