I’ve been doing a lot of graphic recording in the community sector in the greater Brisbane region. Much of the work has remained confidential, but I have a few images I can share. What stands out to me is the tenacious commitment and resourcefulness of the organisations and communities involved in this sector, as they tackle complex societal challenges. It is always a humbling experience for me to engage with them and witness their active hope, sharp analysis and creativity as they work on solutions.
There is great wisdom in the Collective Impact model that some of the organisations + communities are using. This model calls for government and decision makers to work collaboratively with communities and to surrender traditional hierarchical methods and control – recognising the power of communities as architects of their solutions. Communities understand the issues intimately and know what the solutions are.
Some years ago I was contracted on a series of park redesign projects, tasked with creative engagement of communities to help shape an outcome that would best serve them. These were parks in locations with long-term social disadvantage. I was struck each time by how the children worked out the co-usage issues with clarity, way ahead of the landscape architects. They’d say: ‘No, that wouldn’t work – you’ll have balls hitting the little kids if you place that there. What about this…’ and they’d redesign the park to allow parents to be close but not helicoptering, and all kids finding a safe place to play.
Clear methodology and the inclusion of partnership expertise and research are clearly needed to help us think ‘outside the box’ and shift out of the limitations of what we know, but I am continually reminded that communities are the experts of their daily lives.