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Holly DoronAssociate | Architect

For over 7 years, Dudley CVS have been bringing together doers, designers, storytellers, researchers, creatives, social entrepreneurs and investors through a support platform called CoLab Dudley. Just one of the ways they’ve been doing this is Do Fest Dudley High St. Do Fest is ‘a big experiment combining talents and imaginations to grow and spread creativity and kindness in Dudley Town Centre‘. 


Do Fest is an invitation to get involved in some hands-on doing and making. To make new friends. To involve the whole family in shared experiences… doing everyday things in spaces and places which feel forgotten. Along with activities taking place in the friendly welcome and comfort of well loved spaces.

This year, I joined other local doers in designing activities for the festival. I invited people to ‘see like an architect’. Architects are trained to help people turn their aspirations into reality. To do this, architects need to look at things with an impartial and creative eye. Drawing inspiration from Healthy Streets, Street Space, and my own experience, Dudley doers were given 8 tips to wake up their architect eye, and to look at their High St differently.


Heavy rain led to an impromptu picnic under a marquee, with Dudley doers creatively reflecting around a map of the High St. They pooled their collective local knowledge to map parts of the High St that are active and inactive. They shared inspiration on street art, east Croydon, and Bristol, and added layers to the map with their long-term and ‘meanwhile’ strategies. Their dreams for the future bode well for Dudley: street park, shutter art, allotments, roof gardens, wild flowers and food forests.

This isn’t a far distant vision of the future, it’s happening now. Do Fest was just a snippet of the creativity and doing that is happening on the High Street. From Paint Dudley’s stunning work with Dan Griffin-Hayes and Seven 9 Signs bringing forgotten frontages to life, and harnessing the ‘power of out-of-place’ by creating a parklet, to building relationships through conversations while doodling, learning about living plastic free, taking photos, painting stencils onto streets, and making bird feeders, films, zines and pom-poms for loneliness.

Photographs by several Dudley doers and the CoLab Collective. Visit them on twitter: @colabdudley @dofestdudley