Community enablers

We are carrying out an exploration into what are the skills, roles and approaches of community enablers, and how can they use the new digital tech tools for network building and neighbourhood change. As I explain in this first post:

I’m using the term “community enabler” to cover people who may call themselves community organisers, builders, mobilisers, development workers, or network weavers. I hope people will find that acceptable as a neutral term, at least for now. As I wrote here, in a post for the People Powered Change exploration, there are many different models for neighbourhood change.

The initial supporters are Community Matters – who are particularly interested in helping people understand the different models – and the Media4ME project.

As I’ve outlined in this editable Google doc, the process will be:

  • Initial research into the community enablers.
  • Identifying and develop some main talking points
  • An event on May 10
  • Further research and discussion online, and other meetings
  • Leading to a report on community enablers, advice on using social media as part of neighbourhood change, and a kit for social reporters.

Blog posts are collected in the the Community Enablers category

  1. Hi David
    Apologies for my delay in responding to this. I wish I had been able to make it to your event on 10 May. It looks as though it was a really great collaborative step in this exploration.
    I am very, very keen to be involved in research and discussion (online and face to face) around community enablers. I think it would be incredibly useful to produce a report on community enablers linking their practice and favoured tools to a participation typology as well as specifically considering how online working is part of the mix. I too am really interested in Tessy Britton’s participatory paradigms (I did start to compare and contrast them with other participation and citizen typologies but ran out of brain power. Perhaps I could try again for the purposes of this work). Only this week I met with Steve Iafrati from the University of Wolverhampton who has offered to carry out some research in Dudley, where I work, looking for evidence for growth in Tessy’s creative, collaborative participation in our communities, exploring it and locating it in the current (national and local) policy context. Clearly looking at community enabling in relation to creative, collaborative participation would have a strong link to what we’re looking at.
    I also hoped there might be a link to the possibility of an update of your excellent Guide to Participation. We still use the guide in our training and support in Dudley, and your ladder of participation underpins our multi-agency, borough wide empowering approach to engaging communities. One of the the really useful things about your guide is it’s consideration of who holds power in engagement processes, and discussing that in training I’ve delivered has been really great – they have enjoyed those conversations and said in evaluation how useful that discussion was. It would be just wonderful if this work around community enablers could offer something for people in all sorts of different contexts, groups, communities and organisations to locate themselves (and power dynamics) and be signposted to useful tools (online and offline) to make the changes they seek. It could be a really useful bridge-builder too. I often bring together people from varied fields of work and different organisations and groups – seeing approaches to community enabling and considering why people do the things they do might help to develop understanding between the array of people we support through networking and training.
    In terms of taking this forward I would love to be part of a group working on it. I’d hope that Eileen Conn, Mark Parker and others from the session on 10 May would be interested. Perhaps Tessy and Laura from Social Spaces could be involved. I’d also like to ask Diane Simms from Kirklees Council, who is doing great work bridging online and offline in the creative collaborative space ( see Shared Spaces: http://www.communitykirklees.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Shared-Spaces-booklet.pdf).
    There is so much that I think we could usefully develop around this, which will be of great practical use. I’m incredibly excited as it is bringing together a number of strands of thinking and activity for me, including an exploration of the changing roles, skills and support needed in this new world, which I tried to start discussions on here: http://oursociety.org.uk/group/our-society-a-guide/forum/topics/changing-roles-and-skills-and-support-needed. I also love Eileen Conn’s thinking and we are exploring new ways to occupy and work in the space of possibilities in Dudley – again work on community enablers would greatly assist this.
    What next? A dedicated online space to pull things in and share our travel diaries as we embark on this exploration?

  2. H Lorna – thanks for such an incredibly encouraging comment! I’m delighted that this work connects with your on-the-ground experience and that the Guide to Effective Participation still has relevance 20 years on. It would be great to work with you and others you mention … and maybe we do need our own space. I’ll follow up in more detail next week.

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