I don’t know whether you’ve ever walked or cycled under Tinsley Viaduct, north of the city, where the motorway passes Meadowhall. I have done often. That pedestrian underpass is one of the most depressing, polluted parts of Sheffield. It’s a sore symbol of the failure of car-centric planning.

There are similar toxic effects on the surrounding areas, like Tinsley. It’s an ancient area, close to river and canalside walks. You might recognise it from scenes in the satirical comedy Four Lions. It’s got a lot of loyal, multi-generational residents, a diverse population, but Tinsley is one of those smaller places on the edge of a big city which seems to get forgotten, disparaged and dumped on. The Don Valley’s industry had the plug pulled years ago. It’s downwind of the incinerator, Meadowhall and the M1, together sluicing in pollution.

In a place like this, with unemployment and no pubs or nearby supermarkets, money leaves the local economy as soon as it arrives. That’s why it’s good to hear of new projects like Tingas Tinsley springing up. The name comes from the old word for the area (‘Tingas-ley’) and it’s based in a disused infant school. Many residents went to school there. It has a dozen useful rooms in good condition, accessible toilets, changing rooms and wheelchair access. The possibilities are endless: meetings and events, small businesses and co-operatives, educational courses, charities and voluntary organisations, internet access, homework clubs…

But only if the local community want it to happen, says Mark Parsons of social enterprise architects Studio Polpo. There’s a history of decisions for the area made externally, lacking consultation and even causing protests. Mark is part of a team working with residents to find out what they’d like to see there. Local groups like Tinsley Forum, businesses, the church and the mosque are working in collaboration with Sheffield City Council and architecture students over the next 18 months. The plan is not to impose a solution, but to connect and strengthen existing networks and groups in the area. Thanks to funding from Sheffield Town Trust, they hope to be working with arts charity Access Space to recondition computers. Young people from the area are designing and building the desks.

Tinsley also has innovative new art projects appearing. More importantly, there are initiatives to get more trees planted.

It wouldn’t be surprising if all of this led to gentrification and resentment. Colin Havard of Sheffield City Council warns that residents can feel they’re in a zoo, as groups of people roll up with clipboards and interview questions. But the Tingas project aims to avoid the mistakes of the past by involving all sides of the community. It could well work. Once people start to say, “Yeah, we live in Tinsley,” then the rest of us will start to go, “What’s happening in Tinsley?” Colin says.

That’s the vision. If you’re interested in using a space for an event, an experiment or something more permanent, check it out. The prices are low and it’s a mansion with many rooms, open for new ideas. I wish them well and look forward to seeing Tinsley as a place with interesting activities happening. It’s been a long time coming.

tinsleytingas.wordpress.com
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SHEFFIELD VIVA! VEGAN FESTIVAL
Sat 18 Nov | 10:30am-5pm | The Megacentre, S2 5BQ
Find your way to the Megacentre for a huge festival highlighting the growing new wave of veganism. Stalls, info, caterers, talks and more. Plenty of stuff for adults and kids. And yes, there will be free samples. Entry £3 on the door or £13 for VIP tickets available in advance.
viva.org.uk/festivals/sheffield-2017

THE LYNCHING – A FIGHT FOR JUSTICE
Thu 23 Nov | 7pm | DINA
“I wholeheartedly support the right of anyone to criticise Israel without being branded antisemitic. That goes in particular for Jackie Walker,” said Noam Chomsky. Walker, former vice-chair of Momentum, had a black mother and a Jewish father, both civil rights activists. Her solo show is relevant today, as Corbyn’s critics again stir up antisemitism witch hunts. Tickets £5 waged, £3 low-waged or unwaged.
dinavenue.com

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