Alevizou CreativeCitizen ESRC_Vienna

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Presented as part of the Economic and Social Research Council (UK) seminar series 'Digital Policy: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights' (RES-451-26-0849), Media and Communications Dept, University of Vienna,22-23 Nov 2012
http://creativecitizens.co.uk/2012/12/21/communities-by-design-neighbourhood-media-and-creative-citizenship/

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  • 1. Urban theory has undergone a normative turn, registered in debates - and in prescriptive practices in architectural planning, collectively known as community-led design. Such debates, and practices, are centred on issues around democratisation and the right of citizens to participate in, and collaborate over, the design of their built or physical environment, public spaces & services. To creatively contribute to social capital, economic sustainability and cultural well-being of neighbourhoods and local businesses.  Responding to the promise of participatory architectures, new media are embedded in localism policies across Europe, with the case of New Localism Bill in the UK proposing a new planning policy framework, promising to bring about reforms that will decentralise local governance, put forward grass-roots participation, and fuel the potential of digital creativity and economy. A flurry of funding promoting public engagement has emerged in the UK, and a wave of social media projects tools promises to enable citizens to put their mark, tell stories and harvest local skills and assets (IMAGE CIVIC CROWD, Locality, sticky places…NESTA)…As part of a research team at the Design Group at the OU and RCA Helen Hamlyn Centre for Designis working to understand the value of community-led design? How is it facilitated through the use of media, what are the emerging opportunities and challenges? Our strand on media and CLD is also part of a larger project /collaboration among 4 UK universities and funded by AHRC –EPSRC under the connected communtiies digital economies programme. Outline A brief overview of CLD and the overarching theoretical framework that guides the epxloration–Research Insights about media use/media outputs… from focus groups with mainly London based community projects -
  • To address the question of media use, we have conducted focus with representatives from communities who have already been involved in projects the design and regeneration of local places (cafes in community centres, playgrounds, libraries, unused spaces…etc). As part of these studies we also aim to understand what media and communication tools or methods these communities use for gaining access to, and sharing information, communicating and deliberating as well as publishing creative insights and artifacts (e.g. stories, photos, videos). We also wanted to see what stories they tell through those media…We engaged with a number of communities that have a presence in CLD projects (that had received funding or support from NESTA, GH, LOCALITY and others…) (explain - selection). .. (other methodologies …)Media mix
  • For most communities, a problem in their local area, often within a space or buildings or an impeding development is what instigates the desire for collective action. Yet common among the motivations of participants is the desire for the development of a collective vision, an aspiration for improving conditions of living within their local environment, whether environmental or social, architectural or cultural. These are civically engaged citizens by enlarge, often members of a variety of volunteer and activist groups, or residents’ associations and neighbourhoodcoallitions; while some become more politically motivated and engaged in the process, others aspire to combine professional knowledge with an active involvement in local governance and regeneration.Knowledge about problems is gained through a variety of methods and media, often serendipitously: “I first became aware of the issue through a poster on a tree, advertising a public meeting” one participant mentioned. Likewise, word-of-mouth or door-knocking goes side by side with other systematic methods for soliciting feedback in public meetings, local festivals and markets, or through physical, email and (occasionally) twitter surveys.
  • A variety of online and home made print media (leaflets, newsletters, booklets, posters) are being used, alongside face to face contact in meetings, email newsletters, mailing lists and text messages
  • . Almost all the community projects’ representatives that talked to us have a dedicated website which is run by volunteers: they share minutes from meetings, relevant local news, planning documents and maps, photos and videos, and often seek to engage in further discussion and consultation. Only Wards Corner is using more collaborative platforms to facilitate user generate content, and aims to use experimental video and creative activism to raise awareness. Barnfield aims to start a community social site to engage as many of the 1,800 residents as possible, as mobile media have thus far prove somewhat successul. All other projects run community guest blogs and or use social media (twitter feeds and facebook pages, or YouTube) to distribute messages, news, announcements and promotional or experimental videos.Admittedly, dedicated websites are seen as a necessity for enhancing group or project profiles and wider community outreach; many participants contend that these are developed ‘bit by bit on the way’,  and point to challenges such as time resources, digital literacy and financial demands. Though all participants consider more collaborative interfaces favourably, they also point to tensions regarding openness and privacy.Stories…./outputs…narratives, announcements – links resources ----Participants shared views that that wider exposure to local and national media (or multiple outlets) can raise profile further, attract attention that can foster more support (volunteers, government, local stakeholders). The idea of influence decision-making (regarding planning) again comes more prominently from the groups that mostly deal with problems.
  • Insights from focus groups ( insights regarding media footprint….)
  • Social media: only references to guest blogs and a YouTube ‘Barnfield grandma’ video on BIG LOCAL site: http://www.localtrust.org.uk/?project=barnfield-community-3
  • “We celebrated the centre's seventieth year in 2009 and this offered us a unique opportunity to bring centre users and the local community together to celebrate its history, purpose and aims. Our grateful thanks go to The Heritage Lottery Fund for supporting the development of this website, enabling us to research the history of the centre and to record local people's memories”
  • .A: Announcements and document sharing (alternative planning apps focusing on regeneration), appeal and campaining platform run on wikispaces. Quite up-to date but lately mostly run by 3-4 people (40 updates between 18-31 July 2012). highly visual and in principle participatory and interactive; acts as a repository Centred around the impeding demolition of wardsC by private developer, fosters the promotion of collective action and memory/ community spirt / social and local enterprises (visual timeline of WC). Mission: "Wards Corner Community Coalition (WCC) is a grassroots organisation working to stop the demolition of the homes, businesses and indoor market above Seven Sisters tube station and fighting the attempts of Grainger PLC to force out the local community. Active since 2007 the WCC has been working to empower the community in Seven Sisters to take control of its future and determine how Wards Corner should be developed. " Structured links to Harringey Council appeals, plans and court cases, meeting minutes (old); links to local blogs
  • This and the next slide provide some more qualitative insights on types of uses, purposes for media use as these emerge from a collective view (focus groups; expert interviews, cursory examination of media outputs) – also see next slide: the processes of ‘media production’… Finally a simple characterization of the communities as audiences/participants….A sense of pride is what we felt fuels the desire to showcase material from projects. Motivations are both cultural and social: Participants from Barnfield and Wards Corner, stressed that they want to showcase their projects in order to keep people engaged and they strive to communicate the community spirit in a visual way. One participant put particular emphasis to the role of evidence:Community as prod-users: Story-telling
  • This and the next slide provide some more qualitative insights on types of uses, purposes for media use as these emerge from a collective view (focus groups; expert interviews, cursory examination of media outputs) – also see next slide: the processes of ‘media production’… Finally a simple characterization of the communities as audiences/participants….Social media and the internet present new tendencies towards way-finding, information sharing, as well as communication, visibility and communal self-representation. Likewise, face-to-face interaction, private communication and 'small- media' (e.g. posters, leaflets, pamphlets, etc) are vital for raising awareness or advocacy, and, for mobilising volunteer support and further engagement, promoting thus the need for an analogue and digital mix in community media; b) Participatory or community-led design projects surface a renewed impulse for the ‘articulation’ and mediation of issues, values and tensions that may represent the make-up of local communities in cities. Participatory design may indeed present opportunities to fuel activism, to facilitate creativity and peer support among locally based communities of interest, to enhance cultural value and shared memory, but also to bring  people together with a shared sense of purpose and mutual benefit surrounding public spaces and services. Nonetheless, numerous tensions prevail, pertaining the development, governance and sustainability of communities and projects, civic engagement and effective social action, as well as media and participatory literacies.  What broader links, if any, are being made between the field of media, production digital storytelling and civic activism, mainstream media production, popular culture generally and politics? It is these points – building community through the construction of value and giving recognition (see Honneth, 2007)Moderation / tensions about impact – positive: raise of confidence and understanding of identity and belongingmeetings with designers and planners and is trying to ‘translate’ complex design issues by inviting people to be crafty – co-ersed publication / not everything can be measured…/funding
  • We then asked participants to offer keywords that would best describe this ideal media platform, by pointing to either purpose or features (see above). Many participants pointed to what we could describe as a ‘lively participatory resource’ and others emphasised the ‘collective’ and the ‘aspirational’. One participant diverted from the ‘task’ and elaborated further. Her remarks are quite representative:Evidence of things happeningEmpowerment, solidarityFind examples of successful community-led design projects in order to show evidence that community led design does workShare resources (for funding; for design support facilitation; useful press contacts)Share stories and community experiencesVoicing and showcasing evidence, offering and seeking advice and support, and sharing stories about problems and alternative futures, are what participants are willing to contribute.Without a doubt, the two days last week have sparked many new ideas and interests, but also have raised questions with regard to any learning, resources and sites for collective action and situated creativity. Many such questions have resonance with other questions about hyperlocal publishing such as Jerome put on a recent post in here: what may be appropriate to the size and digital inclusion of the communities, where word of mouth and other media are also so crucial? How might a digital presence draw in volunteers from wider cultural and interest groups? How might an online presence be used to lobby/petition for funding and other support?
  • Alevizou CreativeCitizen ESRC_Vienna

    1. 1. Communications by Design? CommunitySpaces, Neighbourhood Media & Creativecitizens Dr Giota Alevizou With contributions from Katerina Alexiou, Catherine Green, Gail Ramster, Theo Zamenopoulos Presented as part of the Economic and Social Research Council (UK) seminar series Digital Policy: Connectivity, Creativity and Rights (RES-451-26-0849), Media and Communications Dept, University of Vienna,22-23 Nov 2012
    2. 2. Community Led Design
    3. 3. Key assumptions about the value of community-led design Community-led design brings to communities: • Social value: e.g. knowing more people makes people happy, connectivity gives people more power to engender change • Cultural value: e.g. a better environment with opportunities to learn and create, creating a sense of identity, shared culture/vision • Economic value: e.g. more businesses, more jobs, stronger local economy
    4. 4. The core questionshow do individuals and communities involved in participatory design projects,engage with each other and through new media.how do communities involved in such projects use the media as a means for way-finding and & communicationhow do communities represent their outputs, achievements and challenges theyface to raise the possible impact of their civic contributions
    5. 5. Creative Citizenship?Creative citizenship combines notions from cultural sociology - a field thataddresses the cultural needs of the individual and puts forward the representationof excluded or non expert groups (Stevenson, 2001; 2003) - with definitions of„creative communities‟, stemming from the social innovation context (Jégou etal., 2008: 32).Puts forward an understanding of citizenship as “practices of association amongco-subjects”, rather than a notion of “rights and obligations to a state”(Hartley, 2010)• new tendencies towards visibility and self-representation?• a renewed impulse for sharing contributing to everyday creative interpretations?• the emphasis on „process, emotion and presence‟ rather than simply an outcome? (Csikszentmihalyi, 1997; Gauntlett, 2011)
    6. 6. Insights on media use, media outputs
    7. 7. Overview of media use/outputs N: 33 representatives from 17 Communities: focus groups and questionnaires/media matrix
    8. 8. ’I first became aware of the issue througha poster on a tree, advertising a publicmeeting’
    9. 9. Break-down of small media use Small media matter and are generally found to be effective
    10. 10. Break-down of social media use Facebook was seen as the most effective way of reaching people after word of mouth.
    11. 11. Community ProfilesThe Mill Insights from focus groupStage: EstablishedType: Community CentreLocation: WalthamstowSize: 200 + volunteers and stakeholders
    12. 12. Community ProfilesKentish Town Neighbourhood Forum Insights from focus groupStage: MidType: Neighbourhood ForumLocation: Kentish TownSize: 230 members
    13. 13. Community ProfilesBarnfield Estate Insights from focus groupStage: MidType: RegenerationLocation: WoolwichSize: large community _ minimal public media footprint
    14. 14. Community ProfilesGoldsmiths Community Centre Insights from focus groupStage: EstablishedType: Community CentreLocation: LewishamSize: large
    15. 15. Community ProfilesWards Corner Community Coalition Insights from focus groupStage: EstablishedType: Built Environment /Advocacy/ActivismLocation: HaringeySize: large
    16. 16. Communities as audiences/info-gatherers/media prod-users Initiation and way-finding • Serendipitous discoveries & idea generation • Learning about and getting (more) involved • Info gathering and advice/support solicitation (un)Mediated public engagement workshops • Articulation of issues, needs, assets • Story-telling and reflective emotions about space, locality, identity • meetings with designers and planners trying to „understand‟ complex design through visits and crafty-ness Progression: communication and collaboration • Sharing info and awareness raising • Collaboration and deliberation (mediated yet mostly private) • Advocacy and volunteer mobilization • Understanding of problems through (often unmediated) co-creation • Consultation & peer support Communities as media prod-users • Representation and broadcasting: assets /outputs /events • Story-telling • Commentary
    17. 17. Maintaining mediated presence Realities • Media production/communication facilitated & endorsed by emerging community leaders / „media creatives‟. • Small media and social media facilitate peripheral participation in interest sub-communities Issues and Tensions – within wider processes of mediation Media and participatory literacy Sustainability Quality Social/on line media use Exposure vs privacy Governance (community, public, local) Representative-ness and inclusivity
    18. 18. Aspirations for community-led media sites

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