Community Portrait of Glasgow

Bringing the Doughnut to ‘ARCadia’ - the community launch of University of Glasgow’s Advanced Research Centre

Summary written by Annika Hjelmskog, Research Associate for Glasgow's City Portrait

The Glasgow City Portrait team brought the Doughnut to the new Advanced Research Centre (The ARC), which opened its doors to the public in September for its ‘ARCadia’ launch festival. We welcomed visitors from all over the city and introduced them to the principles of Doughnut Economics: meeting the needs of all people within the means of the living planet

At this event we were excited to speak to Glasgow residents, to find out directly from our communities what is most important to them for the future prosperity of their city. The hopes and visions we heard, and the voting on where action should be prioritised, are all contributing to our ‘Community Portrait of Glasgow’. 

Our team were involved as part of the ‘Bank Holiday Brunch’ which showcased several University projects with a wellbeing theme. There were multiple Doughnut-themed activities for our visitors to engage with, and each activity was built around the question: ‘What does a thriving Glasgow mean to you?’ We asked our visitors what it would mean, and what it would look like, for Glasgow to thrive – for their families, their neighbourhoods, and the parts of the city that they know well. 

We met people of all ages, with some amazing ideas! 

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The doughnut shaped crafting table had space for doodling, chatting, and building with Lego. Some of the Lego creations got us really inspired about the spaces we could create to benefit communities and nature together.  

These ideas included: 

  • Using parks and open spaces to create shelters made from natural materials for both wildlife and humans to hang out 
  • Making more spaces available for people to be active in when it rains (which is quite a lot!) 
  • Free music concerts that are open to everybody, using our parks or streets to host them 
  • More 20-minute neighbourhoods, so all people can access the necessities of life without using cars 
  • Cleaner and lighter streets that everyone feels safe walking on, and proud to maintain 
  • Making the most of the river Clyde so it becomes a beautiful attraction, that we can walk along, eat beside, or even swim in 
  • Our homes to be ‘greener’ and keep everyone inside warm and happy 
  • Much more public transport, including more reliable buses, and a proposed extension to the subway system 

We even turned the Doughnut into a real-life canvas portrait! We asked how Glasgow currently scores on the dimensions of the Doughnut that we experience locally, and people voted with green paint to show where they felt Glasgow is already achieving a ‘thriving’ status, and with red paint to show which dimensions are currently falling short. The Doughnut Portrait we created gave us a really interesting piece of both research material and collaborative art.

What we learnt from this process was which dimensions our visitors perceived as Glasgow’s existing strengths

  • A very strong sense of community, culture, shared identity and sense of place amongst Glaswegians. 
  • We have a lot of international students in Glasgow, whose links to their home countries help foster a sense of global connection
  • Glasgow is really windy – but how can we use this to generate more clean energy
  • Lots of green space, which is great for wellbeing

And what our participants thought are some of Glasgow’s biggest challenges

  • Housing supply is low, and the cost of housing is too high. Much of our homes are cold, poorly insulated and expensive to heat. 
  • There are big inequalities in air quality and pollution levels between different neighbourhoods. 
  • Not everyone has a good quality or fulfilling job, too many people’s talents are wasted. 
  • Important sites and buildings have been neglected, left to become derelict, and this is damaging to civic pride as well as degrading the land they sit on. 

Visitors also had the chance to take a Polaroid Selfie with the doughnut as a souvenir, and our team couldn’t resist the opportunity for a quick snapshot either…

We had so much fun sharing the Doughnut ideas with people from our local communities, and we can’t wait to turn some of these brilliant suggestions into action as we continue to build the Glasgow City Portrait and take forward the GALLANT programme. It was so valuable for us to get more input from Glasgow residents, to start engaging the wider community with these ideas, and share the deliciousness of the Doughnut in a fun, accessible and playful way.

You can follow our work on Glasgow City Portrait




    Neil Donaldson

    Kintyre, Argyll and Bute, Scotland

    I am interested in getting support and guidance on developing a Doughnut economy plan for our local town


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