– a guest post from Mark Langdon, Chair, North United Communities
The Easter Saturday event was a brilliant example of community assets in motion. The church hall filled with local people some organising cooking and organising and many having fun chatting to friends and relatives neighbours and new faces (like me). I was there in my role as Chairperson of North United Communities staffing the stall that IRISS had provided with the aim of capturing what people liked about their area and themselves.
Tellingly the biggest challenge for most folk was saying something good about themselves. For me the experience was fantastic so many great people finding time to spend together mothers and fathers helping their kids showing patience and providing encouragement. The best way to give you a sense of the day – apart from a picture of me wearing bunny ears (which I do every Easter) – is to let you read the words that were hung on the listening tree.
The day recharged my faith in the inherit goodness of people and reminded me how little people are asking for in their communities – security, warmth, food and hope for the future – they deserve all that and a lot more.
Detroit SOUP’s mission is to promote community-based development through crowdfunding, creativity, collaboration, democracy, trust and fun. With key partnerships and community leaders, the hope is to change the way people engage with the democratic process by establishing neighborhood relational hubs across the city. In their own words, “SOUP offers a space where people can connect. The rest is up to attendees, but wonderful things can happen when people come together, and SOUP stories are evidence of that”.
“More information in this short film.
As part of the Arts and Humanities Research Council-funded project entitled ‘Representing Communities: Developing the creative power of people to improve health and well-being’ – Barry ‘ The Red Bench’ explores the notion of outdoor spaces and the lack of seating in urbun areas. Taking Barry for walks around Dennistoun encouraged the local community to take a break and seat from their busy day and aimed to present the amazing characters of Dennistoun in an uplifting way.
The imagine programme is a five-year project running from 2013 to 2017 which brings together a range of different research projects working together across universities and their, mostly local, communities.
Of interest are the findings of this first study suggest that successful community-university partnerships have a set of characteristics that include the following:
- Partners accept that partnership working is an ongoing learning experience
- Partners manage to reframe differences into an opportunity, rather than an obstacle
- Partners make an effort to become aware of existing power dynamics and take practical steps to address these
- Partners pay attention to the social aspect of the partnership
- Partners play to each other’s strengths and acknowledge that equity and fairness in the partnership is compatible with different levels of involvement by different partners and, if applicable, varying levels of involvement over the course of partnership
- Partners choose a level of formality appropriate to their mission.
The site gathers knowledge from a range of different projects to imagine how communities might be different. Visit the site here
A personal view from Geoff Mulgan on what collaboration and collective impact are, what has been learned and how practice can improve. It provides an overview of some of the potentials and pitfalls of collaboration and outlines a few routes forward. Read the report here
This report from The King’s Fund Place-based systems of care argues that providers of services should work together to improve health and care for the populations they serve. This means organisations collaborating to manage the common resources available to them rather than each organisation adopting a ‘fortress mentality’ in which it acts to secure its own future regardless of the impact on others. It provides 10 design principles for place-based systems of care.
Creative Gatherings provide a radical alternative to traditional meetings and have arisen from a range of arts based initiatives over the last decade. Using creative curation techniques to bring together groups of people to develop flat heirarchies and cultures of exchange, there is evidence that creative gatherings can generate new ways of working and new networks through creative practice. Creative gatherings have the following key features:
- a neutral and independent space for the exploration of ideas free from associations with a single agenda or group/institution
- a means to open up dialogue and generate new ideas
- inclusivity – diverstiy is prioritised
Creative Gatherings can influence a different kind of conversation through ‘holding’ a space that contains tensions and opposing views within it and yet, are flexible and inviting enough for participants to maintain that flexibility. Sharing food is also a common factor in encouraging new ways of working and sharing ideas more directly.
A recent example of this approach can be found in this case study from the RSA’s Citizen Power Peterborough
Run by National Theatre Wales, The Big Democracy Project explores how art and creativity can play a part in helping communities across Wales re-engage with the democratic process. The project aims to:
- ask big questions about our democracy;
- help Wales imagine the future it wants;
- make a real change to the lives of people in Wales and beyond; and
- instigate action through art.
Link to the full details here.
Shortly after the session, it was announced that there would be a stand-still budget from the council for the preceding three months, which was thought to give the whole group more time to organise itself, as well as a sense of relief!
Following this, we agreed to go ahead and take forward the actions from the first session – to run two subsequent events – the first for organisations/representatives from the workforce, and the second a much broader public engagement event. The rationale for this was that for transformative collaboration to manifest itself we recognise that trust has to be developed and fostered between agencies, as well as between the community and the agencies who are there to serve them, with each working alongside each other to improve outcomes and achieve change.
We had the opportunity to discuss and agree this approach at a Connecting Milton Community Breakfast that took place in March. This was seen as a positive progression at Iriss, as the community breakfasts were established through the Animating Assets project, and which includes broad representation from a host of organisations engaging with the people of Milton (it also enables us to follow up with Love Milton, who had signed up, but who were unfortunately unable to attend the Stirling events).