Kelly Marr and Suzanne Scott are the driving forces of a unique project launched in Dundee today. Discovery Walk is a series of bronzed plaques commemorating the innovators and social reformers of Dundee’s past, set into a paved area right in the heart of the city’s new waterfront development. Here is a video of the launch event.
A booklet detailing the project and including profiles of the ten prominent Dundonians featured accompanied the launch. I was honoured to be asked to write the Foreward. This is what I wrote:
It has been said that people make their own history – they explore and define alternative futures based on their hopes and aspirations. These are also given form by the ideas and inspiration transmitted to us from the past. We build on the history of others to create a new future for ourselves.
Right now in Dundee we have the opportunity of creating a bold, inclusive and ambitious future for our city, focused around the transformation of the waterfront with its world class design museum, new civic spaces and striking new architecture. We can be proud of the vision behind this and the impact it will have on Dundee’s future, but we also face some profound challenges of social deprivation and economic decline in too many of our communities.
The problems we face will not be solved by new museums, inward investors or urban planners (vital though all of these are). If history teaches us anything it is that cities are created, sustained and given new futures by the people who live in them – people who believe that things can be done better, people who focus their creative thinking on discovering new ways of doing things, people who come from all walks of life.
Discovery Walk connects us directly with some Dundonians from our past, all of whom had a significant impact on their own fields and especially on the city that they were a vital part of. Their work laid the foundations of those enterprises and activities that will take us into our future, such as the life sciences, medical research, education and the creative industries. The achievements of these ten remarkable individuals will be a source of inspiration for all of us.
We need to encourage and enable the city’s young people to be the scientists, social reformers, creative pioneers, technologists, educators and entrepreneurs of tomorrow, and the involvement of so many young people in the Discovery Walk project so far, is hugely propitious in terms of how this project can help to kindle future ambitions.
For Dundee and its people, this is no time to think small; no time for an austerity of aspiration. The people celebrated in this Walk took on big problems and big challenges, they took risks and embraced a sense of wonder. They dared to try something new.
Discovery Walk captures this spirit and embeds it permanently in the very fabric of Dundee.