Community Architecture

In the fifteenth century in Renaissance Italy, the main cities like Venice and Florence had groups of influential individuals who met together regularly to think about and plan about the issues they were facing. These were called Operas.

The terms universal design or inclusive design are now being used – how might we enable sustainable accessible multi cultural communities and work together strategically and in detail to enable equality, ecological orientation and economic sustainability or “durability”?

We are able to:

1        Undertake research, enable community participation, project manage, hold meetings, “world cafe’s” and conferences and develop and implement an agreed co-operative mutual vision with you.

2        Evolve personal solutions, and assist with the creation of strong social networks and life plans or maps.

These would be multi-dimensional maps

  • Where someone has come from, where they are now, where do they wish to go
  • Their geographical environment – how accessible is it, issues, strengths, weaknesses
  • Their social environment – their relationships with institutions, communities, businesses and individuals. The attitudes they meet.

Instead of negotiating a probably incomplete and institutionalised set of “services” for which someone may or may not be “eligible” we want to plan and map in detail  a multi dimensional change architecture that is right for the person, their family and their community.

John Barrow Cosmic Imagery writes:

Maps symbolise a human desire to understand and be in control of our surroundings.

To map a territory was tantamount to possessing it.

Maps of the heavens offered an ultimate reassurance that all is well with the Universe, that we were at a focal controlling point within it and had a special part to play in its unfolding story.”

We are aiming to construct personal life maps – learning to act of one owns volition with others.

Future Search

A Future Search conference is a way for a community or organisation to create a shared vision for its future. It enrols a large group of stakeholders, selected because they have power or information on the topic at hand or are affected by the outcomes. Ideally there are 64 people, who form eight tables of eight stakeholder groups. Examples of such groups are health, young people or shopkeepers.

They take part in a highly structured two and a half-day process covering five stages:

  • Review the past – Each participant writes key events in the history of themselves, the community and the world onto three parallel time lines.
  • Explore the present – An enormous mind map is made of trends affecting the local community. Stakeholder groups identify important trends and what they are and would like to be doing about them. Groups share what they are proud of and sorry about in their community.
  • Create ideal future scenarios

Mixed small groups develop visions:

  • Barriers to the visions are identified;
  • Each group acts out its vision to everyone else.
  • Identify shared vision. First the small groups, then the whole group, work out: what the shared vision is; what potential projects would achieve it; and any unresolved differences.
  • Make action plans – Self-selected action groups plan projects and publicly commit to their action.

Several features are designed to empower participants:

  • The principle that people are the experts in their own lives. There are facilitators, but no other experts
  • The emphasis on self-management in small group work
  • The openness – everything is written up on flipcharts and displayed
  • Excellent mapmaking will solve many issues faced by disabled people and communities.
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