ENTRY #494

Connections in Common by Katy Hawkins, Tilley Harris, Alex Pielak, Eleanor Rendall, Darcey Williamson.

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We propose an ongoing process of making visible a commoning network comprised of: community groups (formal and informal), common assets – the tangible (places) and intangible (skills) and commonalities.

We would first set about identifying community hubs, through erecting information gathering screens in community gateways, that ensure a cross section of passers-by. We would invite people into the identified hubs, wherein we would host informal conversations about local civic life. We would then visualise and share this information. This would be an ongoing process, with our role as facilitators being merely to trigger.

In making these social networks visible it would allow for members of the community to access normally invisible or siloed information. A living, and community-generated, notice board that would work to provide new entrance points into gaining new rights to the city, through increased local knowledge.

It would enable local groups to work towards common goals, mobilise each other to work towards overcoming local issues and grow a network of exchange; online and offline, based on creativity, knowledge, understanding and support.

Moreover, in making visible these invaluable local hubs and mapping the social relations that are nurtured within, it would demonstrate the social value certain local spaces generate.

The network would act as a flexible and living, community generated and owned, social viability study on an area. A report that could inform future placemaking: that is informed by pre-existing community infrastructures; a response to the developer- or council-led viability study.

We propose a practical entrance point for communities into the promises made by the Localism Act. A process that could save councils money on lengthy consultation processes, and see a local government that was preventative and receptive, not reactive.

The future must focus on innovative capacity and resilience building on a local level.

Members: Katy Hawkins, Tilley Harris, Alex Pielak, Eleanor Rendall and Darcey Williamson.

We have come together to collaborate over a mutual feeling that there needs to an accessible framework to enable communities build capacity and resilience on a local level.

Tilley Harris and Alex Pielak, are co-founders of Voist and Mapify. Mapify offers tools to engage communities with regeneration in their area. From consultation on specific developments to mapping local assets, Mapify works to give communities a platform to direct local change and development. As a tool it looks to visualise community networks and social capital, as a means to build resilience in face of change. Their process and hands-on experience with numerous communities has greatly informed the development of our process.

Darcey Williamson and Eleanor Rendall are artists of the collective GAB. Their work sits of the border between art and social work and they look to combine art, advocacy, education and research, in their work, with each project evolving in accordance to the desires of participants. They work within various contexts, including schools, estates, youth centres and community hubs. For part of their creative practice they have been holding informal gatherings at a laundrette in Clapton, a project which looks at more creative ways of coaxing discussions concerning daily civic life; this work has informed a large part of our process.

Katy Hawkins completed an MRes in Interdisciplinary Urban Design at The Bartlett, UCL, for which she undertook a practice-led project which explored creative modes of community engagement. She curates community focused projects in Peckham, writes for numerous hyper-local press publications, is an active member on the committee of her T&RA and conducts her own independent research: all of which has informed her involvement.

We all worked together to develop the idea and to organise and facilitate a dry run of the process in Hackney. Tilley Harris and Darcey Williamson produced and edited the film, Alex Pielak was responsible for the graphics and Katy Hawkins wrote the texts.

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