Digital landmarking of cultural vitality

“That museum exhibit stimulated my imagination. It broadened my world from my everyday life in a small town and encouraged me to think about how people lived in other places, not only in the past but also in the present. I realize now that what I was doing in that museum was the spiritual practice of imagination”. Mary Ann Brussat


1 Culture 21

Culture 21, also known as ‘The Agenda 21 For Culture’, was approved in May 2004 by cities and local governments of the world. Signatories are committed to promoting and maintaining cultural vitality expressed in human rights, cultural diversity, sustainability, participatory democracy and the creation of the conditions for peace. Cultural vitality is the evidence of creating, disseminating, validating, and supporting the integration of arts and culture.  It is then seen as a valued dimension of everyday life in communities. As a strategy, Culture 21 in an overcrowded world is not an option but an imperative to guide human survival.  

UNESCO takes the view that culture is transmitted between generations encoded as heritage and so culture humanises the past to be a platform for creating a future culture of sustainability. Heritage encompasses a broad and overarching term: “it” is something that someone or a collective considers to be worthy of being valued, preserved, catalogued, exhibited, restored, admired and passed on to future generations  Heritage is everywhere, and an understanding of our past is increasingly critical to the understanding of our contemporary cultural context and place in global society.  From this perspective cultural heritage is a powerful catalyst for the future.  It also offers solutions to the challenges the world faces in the wake of the Covid 19 pandemic.  In times of health emergencies, cultural heritage plays, and will continue to play, an essential role for the physical and mental wellbeing of every individual and of our societies as a whole. As evidenced by a rich body of literature and increasingly recognised in public decision-making, wellbeing is a holistic concept.  It encompasses emotional, social, cultural, spiritual and economic needs, which allow individuals to realise their full potential and engage in society to their fullest capacity. Therefore, investing in cultural heritage means investing in public health, wellbeing, and improving the quality of people’s lives. The rest of this section is an adaptation of the 2020 Europe Day Manifesto for communities, which presents cultural heritage as a powerful resource for their future development.

Sharing heritage. At a time when the whole world is facing a profound socio economic transformation, a community’s shared cultural heritage and values constitute a much-needed anchor and compass. They can indeed provide a sense of direction and inspiration to make the right choices ahead of us. Cultural heritage ensures the link between our roots, identities, and traditions and the wider global picture. 

Access to heritage.  The COVID-19 outbreak has underlined the critical importance of digital access to cultural heritage. Now communities must work together to accelerate and further improve access. At the same time, we must narrow the divide between institutions that are digitally equipped, and those that are not. We need to democratise access to our heritage to support diversity, inclusivity, creativity, and critical engagement in education and knowledge sharing. We need to promote collaborations and experimentations that strengthen our capacity for innovation. And we need to promote the use of digital technology and expertise, to strengthen the role of cultural institutions.  The raw data for digital landmarking, comprises a picture, a comment with a reference URL.  These can be gathered together to build a personal body of knowledge.

Heritage in Green Deals.  Countries around the world are working on Green Deals for creating a sustainable future.   We must ensure that the cultural dimension of the greening of our society and economy is fully taken on board. Our cultural heritage, including cultural landscapes, is severely threatened by climate change. But the cultural world, with its wealth of traditional knowledge and skills, can also be used to further expand on mitigation and adaptation practices, which can help achieve the 2030 UN objectives. This calls for communities to build back better after the pandemic and be convinced of the immense potential of cultural heritage to help achieve it.

Heritage-led regeneration.  The landmark study Cultural Heritage Counts for Europe provides robust evidence of the clear benefits of heritage investment for the regeneration of cities and regions, both on individual and community levels. Given the prospect of dramatic job losses, community leaders should invest in heritage-led regeneration of urban and rural areas, enabling and amplifying social and economic recovery. This will not only preserve many existing jobs and related skills but also create new rewarding jobs, ranging from specialised crafts to the sophisticated use of digital and other new technologies. Such a “New Deal for Cultural Heritage” will in turn drive social and economic innovation, and contribute to a major improvement of our living environment. The huge potential of heritage-led regeneration in historic cities, villages and the countryside can indeed become a real ‘game-changer’ towards a greener and more sustainable future.

Tourism rescue.  Faced with the catastrophic impact of the Covid19 pandemic on the tourism industry due to travel and mobility limitations, which puts millions of jobs at risk, communities should fully support the appeal for a major “tourism rescue plan”. This plan should include special measures for the revival of cultural tourism, one of the largest and fastest growing tourism segments worldwide.  Tourism needs cultural heritage and cultural heritage needs tourism. But we recover from this crisis by using it as an opportunity to promote more innovative and sustainable forms of tourism, including virtual tourism. In doing so, we will deliver lasting benefits for public and private owners of heritage sites and the communities that surround them, generating higher quality experiences and greater enjoyment for visitors.

Cultural citizenship.  Finally, as the current crisis has shown, the clear interconnection and fragility of humanity provides us with a unique opportunity to enhance its positive and constructive role in the world. Culture and cultural heritage are key drivers for enhancing respect, understanding, and trust as the prerequisites for global solidarity and cooperation. To summarize, we need to urgently and collectively mobilise the transformational power of culture and cultural heritage to provide meaning and inspiration for a global green and inclusive recovery in the aftermath of the pandemic.  This is the UNESCO prescription set out in ‘Thematic Indicators for Culture in the 2030 Agenda.  Its purpose is to measure and monitor the progress of culture’s enabling contribution to the national and local implementation of the ‘Goals and Targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development’.  The latter is a framework to help people build a local process for taking up cultural citizenship set out in the following sections.

2  Cyberspace as a Global Commons

Culture develops within public spaces as packages of collective goods belonging to all citizens. No individual or group can be deprived of free use of them, providing they respect the rules adopted by each community, which broadly are: 

  • to promote the existence of the public spaces and foster their use as cultural places for interaction and coexistence.;
  • to foster concern for the aesthetics of public spaces and collective amenities; 
  • to protect, valorize and popularize the local documentary heritage generated in the public local/regional sphere, providing incentives for the creation of municipal and regional systems for that purpose;
  • to encourage the free exploration of cultural heritage by all citizens in all parts of the world; 
  • to promote the UNESCO Thematic Indicators for Culture in the 2030 Agenda (Culture|2030 Indicators, Fig 9) to measure and monitor the progress of culture’s enabling contribution to the Goals and Targets of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. Tourism;
  • to promote real and virtual tourism that respects the cultures and customs of the localities and territories visited.
  • to use art reasoning rather than scientific reasoning to explain sustainability.

The term ‘Global Commons’ refers to resource domains or areas that lie outside the political reach of any one nation State. The Global commons have been traditionally defined as those parts of the planet that fall outside national jurisdictions and to which all nations have access. International law identifies four global commons, namely the High Seas, the Atmosphere, Antarctica and Outer Space. From this point of view, a Global Commons contains an infinite potential with regard to the understanding and advancement of all life, e.g. forests, oceans, land mass and cultural identity, and hence requires absolute protection.  

Cyberspace is now regarded as a global commons.  It consists of computer networks, computer resources, and all the fixed and mobile devices connected to the global internet. A nation’s cyberspace is part of the global cyberspace; it cannot be isolated to define its boundaries.  Cyberspace is borderless, unlike the physical world-land, sea, river waters, and air that is limited by geographical boundaries.  In operational terms, cyberspace refers to the virtual computer world, and more specifically, to an electronic medium used to form a global computer network for facilitating online communication. It is a vast gathering of computers made up of many worldwide networks that employ TCP/IP protocol to aid in communication and data exchange activities.  Cyberspace’s core feature is an interactive virtual environment for a broad range of participants.  Therefore It has a powerful influence on the establishment and spread of a global culture.   It is the sharing of knowledge that gives cultural purpose to the use of cyberspace as a common good upon which to base cultural citizenship as a way of life.   This envisions a political-economic structure involving participatory governance within an economic system that guarantees equal shares of Earth’s natural resources and wealth for all of humankind.  It is a vision of egalitarian communalism driven by cultural citizenship (Table 1).

Table 1 Cultural citizenship

Cultural citizenship is a way of life:

The food you eat, the clothes you wear, the language you speak in and the God you worship all are aspects of culture. In very simple terms, we can say that culture is the embodiment of the way in which we think and do things. It is also the things that we have inherited as members of society. All the achievements of human beings as members of social groups can be called culture. Art, music, literature, architecture, sculpture, philosophy, religion and science can be seen as aspects of culture. However, culture also includes the customs, traditions, festivals, ways of living and one’s outlook on various issues of life.

Cultural citizenship is learned and acquired: 

Culture is acquired in the sense that there are certain behaviours which are acquired through heredity. Individuals inherit certain qualities from their parents but socio-cultural patterns are not inherited. These are learnt from family members, from the group and the society in which they live. It is thus apparent that the culture of human beings is influenced by the physical and social environment through which they operate as cultural citizens.  There is an awareness of what they have inherited from the past that can be a foundation for the future. Therefore cultural citizenship is shared by a group of people.  A thought or action may be called culture if it is shared and believed or practiced by the group. 

Cultural citizenship is cumulative: 

Different knowledge embodied in culture can be passed from one generation to another. More and more knowledge is added in a particular culture as time passes by. Each may work out solutions to problems in life that pass from one generation to another. This cycle remains as the particular culture moves through time and space. 

Cultural citizenship changes: 

There is knowledge, thoughts or traditions that are lost as new cultural traits are added. There are possibilities of cultural changes within a particular culture as time passes. 

Cultural citizenship provides a range of permissible behaviour patterns: 

It specifies how an activity should be conducted, and how an individual should act appropriately. 

Cultural citizenship is diverse: 

It is a system that has several mutually interdependent parts. Although these parts are separate, they are interdependent with one another forming culture as whole. 

Cultural citizenship is ideational: 

Often it lays down an ideal pattern of behaviour that is expected to be followed by individuals so as to gain social acceptance from the people with the same culture.

Culture 21 aims at fostering cultural development by promoting cultural citizenship.  The aim of this blog is to explore some examples of the intersections between notions of ‘cultural citizenship’ and the evolving role of the Internet as a site of cultural agency. In basic terms, debates around ‘cultural citizenship’ focus attention on issues of social membership across national and local boundaries.  Belonging and its cultural expressions shape, and are shaped, by the opportunities citizens enjoy to partake of cyberspace and to participate in society at various levels (local, national and global).  Participation and inclusivity usefully distinguish the concerns of cultural citizenship (‘the right to know and speak’) from those of political citizenship (‘the right to reside and vote’) and economic citizenship (‘the right to work and prosper’).  It is a formulation that accords ‘culture’ and its evolution a distinctive dimension in cyberspace.  Importantly, anyone who communicates about a place actually owns it because it becomes a property of the imagination of the presenter and the audience.  

Cultural citizenship is now synonymous with digital citizenship.  People become digital citizens by the process of digital landmarking (Fig 1 ).  This means individuals encode local heritage in a database of words and pictures, and/or using data to produce a body of knowledge which expresses their feelings about a place.  This is expressed by Theresa Hubel as staking their claim to ownership of it  ”.. by the very act of writing about it”.   In the context of open commons the authors of data and knowledge are using social media to exercise their right to know and speak about past, present and future cultures.

Fig 1 The process of digital landmarking  

3 Digital citizenship in action: Grimsby

On 7 May 2019 a group of four youths were caught on a surveillance camera throwing stones at the Grimsby Heritage Centre.  This was but one incident in a town where endemic vandalism has arisen with social exclusion.  Out on a patrol, a police officer is quoted as saying: “We are working with Young People’s Support Services in relation to anti-social behaviour within the area of Grimsby and Cleethorpes. It is a question of engaging with the kids and seeing what they are doing and what they are up to and reduce the calls to anti-social behaviour in the area”’  Is there a planned and funded prescription for inclusivity?

Many european cities and towns are exhibiting rising levels of social exclusion and the concept of ‘social innovation’ in urban development, focuses on the processes aimed at countering it.  The term ‘social innovation’ has three core dimensions: the satisfaction of human needs (content dimension); changes in social relations, especially with regard to governance (process dimension); and an increase in the socio-political capability and access to resources (empowerment dimension).   At a grassroots level, cyberspace allows social innovation as an interactive form of communication, where any digital citizen can use social media to communicate with the world in realtime and can actually receive a response, can have a dialogue and have a chat room as a public space to organise a response.  Ironically, the young people who attacked the Heritage Centre gathered there because a nearby McDonalds offers free WiFi!  This points to a potential route for young people to assemble their own knowledge base from which to become digital literate.  Digital literacy in education encompasses specific skills when reading online text that may contain embedded resources such as hyperlinks, audio clips, graphs, or charts.  The aim is to engage young people on line in social innovation  that requires them to make choices to communicate their knowledge about what is good and bad about where they live.  It is important that they present their plans for improving the bad things.  This blog provides an educational framework of cultural and social heritage for them to do this.

Grimsby is a large coastal English seaport and administrative centre in the North East corner of Lincolnshire, on the South Bank of the Humber Estuary, close to where it reaches the North Sea. The town has had several cultural makeovers as it has developed from a small isolated community of self contained fisherfolk.  Over about three generations it became the greatest global example of industrial marine fishing.  Now, facing ‘life without fish’ it designates itself as the Food Capital of Europe.  These cultural changes have been unsympathetic to its built heritage. 

By the mid-20th century Grimsby was the home port for the largest fishing fleet in the world.  Fishing declined dramatically after the Cod Wars of the 1970s had denied the United Kingdom access to Iceland’s prolific fishing grounds.  Also, in line with its Common Fisheries Policy, the European Union parcelled out fishing quotas in waters within a 200-nautical-mile limit of the UK coast to other European countries,. Since then Grimsby has suffered post-industrial decline, although expansion of the food business has been encouraged since the 1990s.  For about a century the community was an example of an ecumene, a collection of families dependent on the North Sea’s fish stocks for its livelihood.  Its economy, from the fishing fleet to the home braiding of fishing nets, was built around an industry that does not exist any more. The social deficit was depicted in a 2018 article in the Guardian newspaper as skills shortages, long-term jobless families, deprivation, drugs, homelessness, empty homes, fly-tipping, and children in care. The government’s indices of deprivation in 2015 ranked the town’s East Marsh Ward as the fourth worst place in the UK for employment, the second for crime and the worst for education, skills and training.  Grimsby is therefore a prime case history of post industrial cultural change.  Local efforts to develop and deploy effective solutions to challenge systemic social and environmental issues of belonging, place and change are expressed in the town’s visual culture. Visual culture refers to aspects of culture that are expressed in visual images of public spaces. Art and visual culture are intertwined and for most people they come into view together in public spaces. 

This blog is a development of one published in 2017 entitled Networking in Common.  That blog was introduced with the following quote from Culture 21.

“Public space is a place of social interaction as well as key for the identity and landscape of the city. As a common good, it belongs to all inhabitants and it has a systemic relation with other common goods such as culture or education”.

Thus, art and visual culture are bound up with everything that one sees in day-to-day life, i.e. advertising, landscape, buildings, photographs, movies, and paintings.  In fact, visual culture is expressed in anything in public space that captures a person’s attention and begins a process of communication from past to present through visual means.  Visual culture is studied using art history, humanities, sciences, and social sciences, When analysing visual expressions of culture, one must focus on production, reception, and intention, as well as economical, social, and ideological aspects in order to produce a digital landmark.

A good example of digital landmarking is a local history forum about Grimsby and its surroundings of North Lincolnshire.  It was established by a private individual, Rod Collins, born and bred in Grimsby, who described himself and his site thus:

“Photography is something of a passion although I wish I spent as much time creatively photographing people as I do angling !  Also, art and all things artistic is a great draw and I derive a great deal of pleasure visiting as many galleries and exhibitions in Lincolnshire as possible.  Used to work in engineering after serving an apprenticeship.  Then became a full-time book dealer selling rare & collectable books.  Got involved in building websites, affiliate search engine marketing and contextual ads.  Called it a day and went all but retired at the age of 39.  Which sees me where I am today – living life simply and only for my own pleasure really.  

This means I shouldn’t complain – but frequently do on this site.

The site mixes, hopefully, both humour and, dare I say it, some depth.  Historical based stuff is clearly more serious though not too ‘dry’ I hope.  Other articles are done somewhat tongue in cheek, there’s a lot of irony, some obvious, some more subtle – generally it’s self-deprecating, the joke’s on me even if sometimes, superficially, it may not appear so.  The site has grown and grown over the years and last year it averaged 1.8 million hits a month!  At our height we were experiencing 3 million hits a month but it was unsustainable so I deleted a lot of ’stuff’ and steered the site in another direction.  It takes quite a bit of managing at times.

If you see me out-and-about or at an event then please do say hello.  It’s always a pleasure to meet anybody who visits the site.  Do leave a comment and take part, it’s a friendly place and you don’t need to be an expert . . .Which is just as well because I’m not!”

Unfortunately the Rod Collins’ site is no longer available, which highlights the fragility of such ‘man-in-the street’ enterprises in digital citizenship.

Nevertheless, social media is now the logical place for the meeting of genealogy and cultural history.  This gives public libraries and heritage centres an important long term role in promoting and servicing digital landmarking to support a local visual culture.  In this respect, Grimsby Public Library has a sustainable platform for engaging citizens in its FaceBook page entitled Streets and Their Stories.

Grimsby’s Wellow Abbey is an illustration of one of Collins’ digital landmarks; a cultural  Internet placement, which between 2010-15 elicited 129 comments and serves as a case history of how digital citizens, mobilising their own resources, can assemble a dedicated cultural dimension of a virtual place within cyberspace.

Wellow Abbey probably had an important role in the economy and cultural ecology of medieval Grimsby.  But, there is very little archival material available about its local impact, which no doubt adds to the allure of the topic to amateur historians.  Although the geographical site of the abbey, close to the town centre  is well known, it is now occupied by a small housing estate, known as the Abbot’s Way Development, built over it in the late 1960s. One of these houses (Fig 2) is on the edge of a tiny hill, probably a small glacial moraine, which attracted the monks of Wellow to set their abbey outside the town, above the surrounding poorly drained fens, riddled with natural artesian wells, called blow wells.   Indeed, this particular house may mark the site of the abbey church.  With an OS bench mark of about 20 ft above sea level it is one of the highest spots in Grimsby!  Remnants of carved stones have been found in the garden.

Fig 2  Abbot’s Way (circa 1990) 

The Abbot’s Way Development is the latest landmark charting the cultural developments associated with the port of Grimsby expanding rapidly in the second half of the nineteenth century.  This began with the development of an entrepreneurial culture of family businesses thriving on the economics of industrial scale fishing in the North Sea.  Coincidentally it triggered the mass import of Baltic timber and the export of Midland’s coal. Alongside this there was a change from a dominant local aristocratic landowning culture (e.g. the Pelham earls of Yarborough and the Heneage barons of Riby) engaged with local government, to the emergence of the middle classes in a rapidly expanding urban context.  In her book, ‘Grimsby Streets’, Emma Lingard points out that the streets created around the site of the abbey in the second half of the 19th century, namely Abbey Road, Abbey Park Road, Abbey Drive East/West, and Abbey Walk, more or less define the home domain of the abbey. This small network of new roads, only a mile from the town centre, indicate the urban spread of upper middle class families into the marshes and pastures of the surrounding countryside (Figs 3 & 4).

Fig 3 Beginning of development of the abbey estate (1856)

Fig 4 Street Map of modern Wellow community (2020)

The Abbey Road ‘entrepreneurial culture’ is exemplified by Ernest and Millie Bellamy.  They moved from King Edward St. in the densely packed terraces of Grimsby’s dockland as second generation urbanites to set up a fashion business, named ‘Madam Bellamy’, in Abbey Road. This was in response to a growing local demand for middle class haute couture (Fig 5).  

Fig 5  A digital landmark of a home-based entrepreneurial culture: Madam Bellamy’s workshop, 51 Abbey Rd. Grimsby, (2020).  Number 51 is the third house with the large south-facing upstairs window, which was enlarged so that Millie’s team of seamstress could work in daylight

Ernest was a second generation of Bellamys, descended from a farm labourer, Fred Bellamy, an economic migrant  from the fenlands on the Lincolnshire Cambridgeshire border.  He began his family in the tightly packed terraces built to house newly recruited dock workers in the West Marsh.  These terraces are today exemplified by their current remains in Armstrong St. (Fig 6).   This brings to the fore the fact that Grimsby was built on the backs of migrants and most migrants made good within the economic limits of the fishing ecumene!

Fig 6 A digital landmark: the remains of Armstrong St. ‘Over the Marsh’, (2020).

Ernest Bellamy was born in 1888 within a new housing development for dock workers in the West Marsh (Ravenspurn St).  From here the growing family moved across the Alexandra Dock to King Edward St, a similar development commemorating Edward VII who was crowned 22 Jan 1901.  Most of Armstrong Street and the whole of King Edward St were demolished, after being classified as slums in the 1960s, to create industrial estates (Fig 7).

Fig 7 136 King Edward St (2020).  Site of Ernest Bellamy’s second family home.

At that time Grimsby was a world leader in science applied to create the UK fishing industry.  Armstrong St celebrates the engineering innovations of William George Armstrong.  It was his idea to build Grimsby’s iconic Dock Tower to provide water pressure to power the dock machinery. The tower was built to carry a tank 200ft above the ground with a direct feed into the machinery. Small pumps topped up the tank as the hydraulic machinery drew off water. The tower system was brought into use in 1852 working the machinery of the lock gates, dry-docks and fifteen quayside cranes, and also to supply fresh water to ships and the dwelling houses on the dock premises.

4  Digital culture: a resource for development

Through people accessing a local digital commons, Grimsby’s Wellow Abbey and its monks live on in a virtual place visualised in the minds of the online visitors who added their comments to Rod Collins’ forum.  New imaginings have been set in motion giving the web participants and readers a sense of place without depending on ancient documents and a pictorial archive.  There is nothing to see on the ground.  Nevertheless, the digital arena of the abbey was expanded by some contributors to the forum to include personal reminiscences of their real life experiences that were associated with the abbey.   So it is that digital memories of place become embedded with imagination in virtual reality.  Now, Grimsby, like so many post industrial towns suffering repeated bouts of regeneration, is topographically placeless.  For its inhabitants any sense of place comes from within their consciousness.  Perhaps we should call this kind of mental visualisation a spirit of place because it is the combination of characteristics that gives some locations a special ‘feel’ or personality.  There is a spirit of mystery in a name like Wellow Abbey emanating from a locus in the overbuilt environment.  In this situation, the environment is not external and the feeling is internal.  How is this virtual culture handled as an educational experience?

‘Culture’ has been defined in many ways.  The 2005 Convention refers to culture in two distinct but related senses which draw inspiration from the 2001 UNESCO Universal Declaration on Cultural Diversity: 

First, its functional meaning is an organized sector of activity dealing with the diverse manifestations – past and present – of human intellectual and artistic creativity.  Culture comprises individuals, organizations and institutions responsible for their transmission and renewal. The arts and cultural expressions, together with these individuals and institutions constitute what is commonly regarded as the “cultural sector”, a demarcated policy domain, concerned mainly with heritage and creativity. Culture as a sector of activity includes, but not exclusively, cultural workers, artists and other creative professionals; commercial (for-profit) businesses; not-for-profit firms in the arts and culture; public cultural institutions, such as museums and galleries, heritage sites, libraries etc.; education and training institutions in the arts; government agencies and ministries responsible for arts and cultural affairs; NGOs and civil society involved in cultural activity. 

A functional digital citizen is a person using information technology (IT) in order to engage in society, politics, and government. Digital citizens are “those who use the internet regularly and effectively.” They also have a comprehensive understanding of digital citizenship, which is the appropriate and responsible behavior when using technology. Since digital citizenship evaluates the quality of an individual’s response to membership in a digital community, it often requires the participation of all community members, both visible and those who are less visible.  A large part in being a responsible digital citizen encompasses digital literacy, etiquette, online safety, and an acknowledgement of private versus public information.

People characterizing themselves as digital citizens often use IT extensively, creating blogs, using social networks, and participating in online journalism.  Digital citizenship begins when any child, teen, and/or adult signs up for an email address, posts pictures online, uses e-commerce to buy merchandise online, and/or participates in any electronic function.  But the process of becoming a digital citizen goes beyond simple internet activity. According to Thomas Humphrey Marshall, a British sociologist known for his work on social citizenship, a primary framework of citizenship comprises three different traditions: liberalism, republicanism, and ascriptive hierarchy. Within this framework, the digital citizen needs to exist in order to promote equal economic opportunities and increase political participation.  In this way, digital technology helps to lower the barriers to entry for participation as a citizen within a society.

Holistically, digital citizenship covers both a social and political point of view, utilized at a local level in school and other educational systems while also being debated upon on a national level. There are many means of participating as a digital citizen to advocate for causes or specific issues that are controversial, and being a digital citizen encompasses a level of responsibility that includes universal goals that should be followed.  These goals emphasize equality and equal treatment across gender, religion, economic status, and political beliefs. The focus is on income inequality and distribution, which are ideas that influenced the development of various economic and political systems.  This defines egalitarianism as a philosophical perspective that promotes participatory citizenship in governance of an economic system for inclusivity.

Second, culture in its anthropological sense, refers to the people’s way of life – the different values, norms, knowledge, skills, individual and collective beliefs – that guide individual and collective action. In this sense of values and norms, culture is understood as a stock of intangible renewable resources upon which people draw inspiration and through which they express the meaning they give to their existence and its development.

The 2005 Convention contains two distinct approaches to bridge culture and sustainable development.  The first approach is reflected in Article 13 and refers to culture integrated in sustainable development, while the second approach is reflected in Article 14 and refers to culture as an instrument or a means to development. They say that parties shall endeavour to integrate culture in their development policies at all levels.  This is to create conditions conducive to sustainable development and, within this framework, foster aspects relating to the protection and promotion of the diversity of cultural expressions. (Article 13 of the Convention; Fig 8) 

Fig 8 Indicators for checking progress in seven dimensions of ‘culture for development’

Shared link to interactive map

Three distinct, but not mutually exclusive notions of development, are present in documents that frame the link between culture and development at the international level.  These are included in the 2005 Convention: development as economic growth in line with neo-classical economics; development as human capacity expansion, in line with the human development approach; and development in relation to present and future generations, in line with notions of sustainable development.  It is crucial to understand these differences, because the Convention uses them interchangeably, and they can be contradictory.

Development continues globally through increased urbanisation as ever more people from the countryside move to live in towns and cities.  It is a process associated with a decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas, and the ways in which societies adapt to this change. Above all, as towns and cities become larger more people adopt different patterns of behaviour that define informal social relations.  These adaptations underpin everyday life for various social groups and the processes of social organisation and disorganisation which they promote are typical of modern urban cultures. 

The urbanisation of Grimsby resulted from the discovery of untapped fish stocks of the North Sea’s Dogger Bank and the invention of mass-catching trawlers to exploit them.  Expansion of the small town was paid for by scouring these fishing grounds creating a fishing culture with a narrow set of understandings or meanings shared by a group of people that are largely understood among members.  These understandings and meanings are clearly relevant and distinctive to survival of particular groups and are passed on to new members.  French geographers describe such a community bound to a local ecosystem for its survival as an ecumene (Fig 9).  When the ecosystem is no longer sustainable the idea of progress implies that changes in culture lie ahead.  Since the 1960s, Grimsby’s citizens have been asking themselves how they might bring forth knowledge from their past mindfully into the present.  Past cultures are relevant to envision the future when we recognize that every past thought-form, emotion and action taken by every single human being who has ever lived has shaped our present reality.  In other words, the question for educators who wish to import values of heritage into a future culture of sustainability is how do we understand the power and responsibility we have inherited?  This question is also relevant to the future of Yarmouth and Lowestoft, two fishing ecumenes based on the North Sea fishing grounds, who are also trying to adapt to life after fish with one foot in the past.

Fig 9 The marine fishing ecumene

Shareable link to interactive map

5 The spiritual practice of imagination

Some would say that peoples’ vision of the future of humankind is becoming more subjective and increasingly bound up with the transition from religion to a godless culture of spirituality.  Drawing on this visionary framework, spirituality is identified as bound up with the subjective life of intellectual freedom, while religion is seen as subordinating subjective life to an external authority of transcendent meaning, goodness, and truth. It is the subjective shift of modern culture that directs people away from religion and toward spirituality. In this respect, the idea that the essence of reality is a non-material spiritual quality is one of the most-common cross-cultural concepts in the history of the world.  Almost every indigenous group in the world has a term that describes a spiritual force or power of imagination that pervades all things, and constitutes the essence of all things.  For Frederic and Mary Ann Bussat living a spiritual life, imagination has two meanings. First, it is a human faculty.  It is the part of us that traffics in images, symbols, myths, and stories. It is the capacity we all have for innovative thinking and creative expression. Second, the imagination is an inner reality, a boundless realm not defined by our senses or reason.  We know from our dreams and an inner reality can enter via certain activities while awake. The practice of imagination encourages us to use this faculty and enables us to explore the world. To heighten the imagination you have to learn the language of imagination. Contemplate art and see yourself as part of the picture. Read myths and tell stories. Apply arts reasoning, known as abductive reasoning to explain sustainability (#aartes). Abductive reasoning starts with an observation or set of observations and then seeks to find the simplest and most likely conclusion from the observations. This process yields a plausible conclusion but does not positively verify it. Abductive conclusions are thus qualified as having a remnant of uncertainty or doubt, which is expressed in retreat terms such as “best available” or “most likely”.

Such ideas brought about a photographic exhibition in Milan (2016) entitled “Cathedrals of Energy’.  It contained over a hundred images by photographer Francesco Radino spanning architecture, industry and landscape. Together, they illustrated the iconic buildings of the Italian power utility, Azienda Energetica Municipale, all dedicated to the production of energy in Italy from north to south, with power plants and ancillary machinery ranging from the early twentieth century to today.  The exhibition tells about a visual culture of energy production and describes the buildings, places and architectures of AEM.  The images are all structures very different in appearance that combine the useful with the aesthetic and present new balances with the surrounding natural environment. Consequently, the four elements, earth, air, water and fire, become of essential importance, because they are not only linked to the processes of mass energy production, but also illustrate the union across several different professional domains of history, art, environment, mechanical engineering, architecture and the economics of an age of plenty. 

A similar cross curricular exhibition of cultural icons can be assembled for the shifting cultural ecology of Grimsby as a ruined temple of plenty (Appendix).  Appropriate spiritual icons for the historical journey would be its long-gone Corn Exchange, a cultural icon of life before fish; the great dock’s ice-making machine, ensuring that fresh fish could be marketed long after it was caught, now lying redundant in dockland.  Then there are the remains of the dockside fish market that secured Grimsby’s weekly wages and Armstrong’s masterpiece of hydraulic engineering, focused on the Dock Tower, which energised the whole cultural enterprise of deep sea fishing.  In the context of digital landmarking a culture we need to remember that through the ages spiritual pilgrims have found that, faced with a suitable icon, it is possible to step with ease into the inner realm of imagination.  Therefore, it is important to begin training young people to become digital citizens by pointing this out.  For example, downloaded census forms from the past become spiritual resources, using the spiritual practice of imagination to define families  immersed in a culture of srvival at the deepest level of the heart. (Fig 10).

Fig 10 Idea for a multiagency education project in Grimsby, with possible funders, for training digital citizens to value cultural heritage in relation to planning for a sustainable future

6 Appendix: icons of visual culture

Gasometro “Cutler” dell’Officina del gas alla Bovisa, Milano.

The Grimsby Ice Factory

Dock Tower

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grimsby_Dock_Tower

7 Internet References

East Marsh: a liberal’s view

Growing up in East Marsh

Lincs Inspire

Make Grimsby Great Again

Heneage 

Heneage 2

Old Grimsby

Egalitarianism

UNESCO: culture and development

UNESCO Culture for Development Indicators

Walk

Photo Gallery

Culture Magic

Theresa Hubel, Whose India?

Cultural vitality

Street view

Grimsby Local History Library

One foot in the Past 

Grimsby’s heritage assets

North Sea: overfishing

Impoverishment of the sea

History of corn exchanges

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