Derby is in the middle – not just in the middle of England, but also in the middle of a major transformation: perceptions of our city are being transformed (as we learn that the percentage of Derby’s workforce involved in High Technology Engineering is more than double that of Cambridge); and our city is undergoing a major physical transformation (including the recent opening of England’s largest shopping complex last year).
This puts Derby very much in the place where the past meets the future.
This is both exciting and confusing. To help us think differently about the future, City Growth (part of our Derby City Partnership) created Lunar21 – where issues can be the subject of debate, and where we can enjoy questions without feeling that there must be immediate answers.
On 21 April we launched Lunar21 with an Inaugural Debate, which feedback suggests was very well received.
Jonathan Wallis (Assistant Head of Museums for Derby Museums and Art Gallery), spoke of the original Lunar Society and its place in Derby Society, the Society being a group of 18th century Midlands’ business men – engineers, factory owners, entrepreneurs – who met to share ideas, always on an evening near the full moon so that they would be more able to find their way home afterwards. It was clear from his presentation that Derby’s Erasmus Darwin and others contributed greatly, and that Derby has a massive track record in innovation which goes back to the Lunar Society and beyond.
Lunar21 was then launched: as a Derby-based re-incarnation of the spirit of the Lunar Society – open to those who share curiosity, inquisitiveness and creativity – who want to meet, hear and ask questions that shed light on Derby’s place in the 21st Century.
Toby Barnes (Managing Director of Derby-based Pixel-Lab) then looked at recent innovations and how technology has altered society’s relationship with media, culture and institutions.
Ian McMillan (poet, raconteur and media pundit), concluded by offering his view of the issues from the perspective of the Arts.
Lively questions and contributions from the floor raised the issue whether technology is opening up new opportunities, or restricting chances for reflection and the development and application of values. How should we make the best use of our time in the future, in the face of so much choice?