(Re)making our commitment to Equity, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion in 2023 and beyond

Today we share Makespace Oxford’s renewed commitment to the interwoven threads of Equity, Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, EED&I. You can read our commitments in full here. This work is evolving, incremental and ongoing, shared here to signal our intent and ensure accountability for the change we strive to create.

From meanwhile to seven generations

Makespace is a learning organisation, committed to bringing about positive social and environmental change in our towns and cities. We are activists at heart. Through our work, we advocate for spatial justice: space and equity for all is our jam! 

Put simply, this means we believe everyone has a right to safe, secure, affordable, accessible and beautiful spaces in which to live, work, create, organise, and ultimately develop a sense of belonging, rooted in community.

We are asking ourselves some big questions at this juncture in the midst of the polycrisis in which we find ourselves. We ask what does it mean to be a good ancestor? We are reflecting on how we show up in our organisation and through our work if we adopt a seven generations perspective to city building. This considers how the decisions we take today will impact on generations to come.

“As we work toward recovery and civic transformation, our opportunity is to be more truthful about the world as it is, and to be regenerative and seven-generation minded in reimagining cities”

– Jayne Engle, Sacred Civics, Building Seven Generation

Cultures of mutual support and solidarity – local and global

We believe in grassroots and collective action to bring about the change we want to see in the world. We are hyperlocal in our approach, rooted in Oxfordshire – working in communities, with communities, to create spaces and places built and stewarded by communities.

We are also internationalist in our outlook. We recognise the shared struggle of communities in Oxfordshire excluded from accessing space is tied to those across the world, resisting exploitation, exclusion and oppression. We recognise the importance of standing in solidarity with communities everywhere, building power locally and learning and sharing strategies and tools to bring about change. This is most visible through our commitment to Community Wealth Building.

“If you’ve come to help me then you are wasting your time. But if you have come because your struggle is bound up with mine, then let us work together”

– Words used by Lilla Watson, Aboriginal elder, activist and educator from Queensland, Australia.

Reflecting and growing stronger roots

Three years on from our statement in solidarity with the Black Lives Matter movement, following the murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, we are re-making our commitment to an ongoing inquiry into equality, equity, diversity and inclusion; to better understand all its complexities and intersectionalities, to inform our policies, our culture and above all spark practical action.

“There is no such thing as a single-issue struggle because we do not live single-issue lives.’”

– Author, poet Audre Lorde

We are building a living practice within our team and through coalitions across our community of residents and beyond to challenge ourselves and deepen our understanding of issues around race, gender, class, ableism and capitalism.

We draw on the leadership and wisdom of individuals, groups, organisations and movements. We draw on the principles of critical thinking, creativity, design, participatory placemaking and collaboration, learning from pioneers in our field to better understand the world we live in. In this way we envision a future that we not only know is possible, but is already on its way (Arundhati Roy).

Our starting point is the revitalisation of empty buildings and underused spaces with communities. We are collaborating with organisations to reimagine these spaces as sites of experimentation, as diverse and inclusive places which adopt meanwhile use as a catalyst to build towards community ownership and the practice of commoning.

“Thinking of the city as a commons requires us to move beyond the public/private and market/state binaries when thinking about urban development and revitalization.

“It is in the space between public and private, market and state, where we can find a set of rich conceptual and practical solutions to enduring racial and economic inequities that continue to plague many communities around the world.”

– Sheila Foster, author and academic

In the last five years, Makespace Oxford has grown from a single part-time member of staff and one hub space to a team of 14. Working with partners, together we have unlocked and reanimated 30 empty and underused spaces in Oxfordshire’s towns and High Streets, making space for purpose-driven groups and individuals.

Back to land

“Land is the bedrock of social justice”

– Nick Hayes, author, illustrator, poet

Makespace Oxford’s work is focused on space and rooted in place. We recognise that in this context it all comes back to land: who owns it; who can access it; and who shapes it.

Our current work is informing and building towards a manifesto for spatial justice, to be published later this year, which weaves all the strands of our work on strategic design, participatory placemaking and Community Wealth  Building together.

“…the freedom to make and remake our cities and ourselves is … one of the most precious yet most neglected of our human rights”

– David Harvey, author, theorist.

Building out from race and space

We are committed to the complex work of dismantling institutional racism within, learning from past mistakes and working in coalition to address structural racism around us.

In 2022, Makespace Oxford commissioned Dr. Dianne Regisford of Evoke Culture Consulting, to provide strategic direction, steward and co-design the Makespace Oxford Racial Justice Programme (MRJP).

“I have relished the opportunity to strategically support Makespace Oxford to delve deeper into the lived experiences of the diverse communities it exists to serve. Focussing on Racial Justice as a strategic priority is a bold commitment. The Racial Justice Programme that we have developed together is a pioneering participatory approach which engages the team, its board and resident communities across Oxfordshire. The Programme is, by design, a living practice which requires time, space holding and safety for honest reflection and collaborative evolution. The Programme  lights the way ahead for transparent, measurable commitments which can be accounted for and reported on.”

– Dr. Dianne Regisford, Evoke Culture Consulting

A commitment (re)made for 2023 and beyond

In 2023, we are working to deepen our connection with our communities across Oxfordshire, where we call home, and (re)make our commitment to equality, equity, diversity and inclusion in five core areas of Makespace Oxford’s work which can be found in detail here.

> Dismantling institutional and structural racism

> Confronting social Inequality

> Championing gender and sexuality equality

> Upending Ableism and widening Accessibility

> Meeting the ecological crisis

Whilst offered as individual components in order to give each area a focus, we recognise their interconnections and how they act together to compound inequalities, or foster liberation.

We offer this work humbly and welcome comments, feedback, questions and further ideas to support us in building towards spatial justice and city building which creates health and wellbeing for future generations to come.

If you would like to find out more or share your thoughts, please contact andy[at]makespaceoxford.org

Team Makespace captured in front of The Source following an EEDI deep-dive, spring 2023

Team Makespace captured outside The Source, following an EEDI deep-dive, spring 2023