This week we have been delivering our third round of Information Sessions to the South East region, starting on Monday in Mallacoota and working our way back to Leongatha on Thursday evening. It has been another inspiring week of ideas and community conversation.
In this post
How do we start?
The most frequently answered question during and after the sessions so far is How do we start? What is our first conversation? So, one thing I would like to extract from the experience of delivering the information sessions is how the selection criteria (click here to view them in detail) are very useful in starting and focusing the community conversations you will be having. These six criteria can provide a strong, focused framework for your conversations.
Instead of starting with a blank whiteboard, you might want to use these headings to kick off your conversation:
- Identified need
- Artistic transformation
- Local engagement
- Community participation
- Legacy planning
- Project management
If you work through each of these in this order – resisting the temptation to look too far forward in the list at first – then I believe you will make a very strong start.
I would particularly encourage you not to look at your project management capacity until you have addressed what your town needs. Firstly, consider what innovative, creative experience might fulfill your identified need, and don't be tempted to fit your ambitions to your perceived capacity too early on. That way real, transformative ideas can grow.
I have been stressing in the public sessions that identifying what skills you don’t possess shouldn't be seen as a negative. As important as knowing what you can do is knowing what you can’t do – and for that not to place restrictions on your ambition. Continue to think big!
With a program of this scale you have the opportunity, backed up by resources, to bring in creative or management expertise; an artist with particular skills can help realise your ideas with you or inspire new ones; a project manager can navigate any particularly concentrated periods of activity you may be proposing. Bringing this expertise into your community or employing those within it can be very powerful – build new skills within your town through new learning opportunities and enhance your capacity to deliver the innovative, ambitious projects you are devising.
Be sure to include a budget line that addresses capacity building expertise such as this and express in your delivery calendar where that expertise might be best used. Most of all, allow yourself to continue to think big about what might transform your town.
Graham Coffey, Small Town Transformations Manager
Inspiration: Jerusalem's Interactive Flowers
In the second of our (hopefully) inspirational examples of transformation, have a close look at this great example of innovative, creative placemaking. Transformation of space is achieved through striking artist designed street furniture - responding to a practical need but also creating a focus and demand for public use. Does your town have a public space that could provide a new focus for your community?
'Let's meet at the poppies.'
These interactive urban sculptures in Jerusalem combine public goods like shade, light and shelter with art and play.
The flowers built as part of the Warde installation use motion sensors to detect when people stand beneath them, they use compressed air to "bloom". The effect is the creation of a striking common experience for the diverse users of a public environment, inviting them to share a memory and begin conversations in the space.