Here & Now 3 – Introduction from the Chair

Welcome to the latest edition of the Academy Journal. You will see that we have changed the format a little to make it as accessible, useful and interesting as possible.

I hope that the revised format will encourage you to contribute to future editions.We are looking to increase the frequency of publication, and the more you can offer the better.

Our Awards, now in their 9th year, provide an archive of assessments of great places – now 120 – from which we can begin to detect common characteristics and trends.These will provide the themes for this and future editions.

The theme this time is Stewardship. We have found that successful places often benefit from long term, dedicated management and investment.This may come from private landlords, local authorities or community interests, but the common factor is a long-term perspective on the returns to be gained from the resources invested.

The articles in this issue come from authors within and beyond the Academy and illustrate the diverse origins of and methods for such long- term investment, of time, money and energy.

A small group of Academicians were in Marseille recently to share the City’s celebration of the Award we presented to them last November. Like all large cities, Marseille struggles to address problems of social and economic exclusion and inequality. It has established a legally-binding long-term vision that covers and co- ordinates the efforts of a wide variety of public and private sector initiatives. This is having a significant physical impact, and is building a stronger sense of optimism.

There are voices seeking to divert resources to address the most pressing needs, however.The urge to respond to urgent pressures is understandable, especially with elections imminent, yet the optimism and growing civic pride, reinforced by last year’s European City of Culture designation, could provide the basis and impetus for sustained improvements for the whole community if the City can hold its nerve. We will be returning to Marseille in June this year and are discussing some further initiatives with the City. I hope you will be able to join us.

In the meantime I hope you find this edition of Here and Now interesting and thought-provoking, and I look forward to seeing lots of suggestions and contributions for the next.

Steven Bee
AoU Chair

Journal Contents