Portland Street Exchange

Does a street have a life too? If so, what streams of life has she come from, and what is her identity to become? The initiatives of Portland Street Exchange are to explore in narratives and collective memories in Southampton city centre where Portland Street is located. The merely survived regency terrace from the WWII bombing scene carries rich history of the city’s glorious olden times, sorrow past and modern transition of changes. In order to connect the city’s past, present and anticipatory future, we propose an idea how about a collective of local creative workers turn to be collaborative archaeologists of knowledge and imaginations?

The objective is to facilitate and develop one of the city’s cultural destinations for public arts, especially with a focus on participatory arts through experience design. Portland Street Exchange in essence is to make a public creative space where arts are curated for everyone, an inspiration hub for exchange of knowledge, culture and experience.

Opening of our micro life laboratory Mutrend Lab being the first independent art and design focused store in Southampton city centre was our very first step. Continuously building connections and fostering a transdisciplinary community of artists, makers and social entrepreneurs, tremendous efforts and progress have been made by our members of the collective in such short space of time. Built upon our collective knowledge and experience so far, a series of curated experience designs are projected in hoping to reach out to a greater base of local residents.

Micro Urban Space Laboratory

How better or city would be if suddenly in the way we could find activated corners which invited us to break our routine and try something new? Microspace is an urban space laboratory seeking for bringing life back to the street using it in a creative way. We do this building a place and proposing an action: What about to read a book in a curated library, or try to play the piano or ukulele on a stage? To see if the idea works we just did it. So, using, a few pallets, friends collaboration and our imagination we have developed a  weekly transformation on our shop front, inviting people to stop, to play and to smile.

The aim is to develop a strategy to contribute to a sustainable use of the public space. We also are looking for creating a laboratory for the experimentation and creativity where people can meet, have a conversation and thus, open the chance to create a community.

So far we have done a Living-room, a Stage, a Curated Library and the first Therapy Workshop Place: Gardening. We also have had the opportunity to receive direct feedbacks from the local residents and we are glad that this idea had a good support among our visitors. We will continue registering your opinions and considering it for future proposals.

Progressive Community Urban Garden

How long ago you spent time planting and gardening? We may forget the days that we can grow our own vegetables and plants in the way that we can relieve our pressure and stress somehow. To promote the great benefits of horticulture activities and help sustain the local communities’ happiness and well-being, a gardening space has been develped for the local residents to sow seeds and watch them grow.

Greenery can convey the positive message and even bring people smile on their faces. Thus, our urban garden aims at community building and society kindness as well as mental healing.

Some plants and vegetables have already sprouted in our community garden, and we have set up a seed bank to give out our plantlet for people who are interested in bringing them home to grow. We are also in collaboration with local food bank and charities harvesting matured plants and vegetables from our urban garden, to care for homeless people and elderly people living alone.

Empowerment Workshops 

‘Empowerment’ to Mu Collective means a transformative experience through learning, and this implies to anyone who is in need of change and wants to overcome obstacles through continous learning. Learning in an open and connected environment essentially is a process of community building, embracing collaborative and co-operative ways of learning and working towards a sustainable future.

The objectives of the empowerment workshops is not just fostering economic sustainability, but also playing an active role for early intervention on social isolation. A series of workshops curated by members of the Mu Collective are tools for empowerment, improving self-esteem and creation of catalytic communities. From exchange of knowledge and skills to accessing resources and structure of opportunities, participants can build connections and be integrated into the creative ecosystem.

Several prototyping workshops have been successfully running at Mu Collective’s collaborative space Mutrend Lab. Each workshop has always been a unique learning experience with great collaborative efforts from members and friends of the collective, sensational connectivity and insights have been shared among participants. The next stage of the project is that members of the collective with supports from our local community partners will be designing a number of planned workshops, from crafts and design skills leading to social entrepreneurship.