This blog is part of an online learning platform which includes the Pathways to New Community Paradigms Wiki and a number of other Internet based resources to explore what is termed here 'new community paradigms' which are a transformational change brought about by members of a community.

It is intended to offer resources and explore ideas with the potential of purposefully directing the momentum needed for communities to create their own new community paradigms.

It seeks to help those interested in becoming active participants in the governance of their local communities rather than merely passive consumers of government service output. This blog seeks to assist individuals wanting to redefine their role in producing a more direct democratic form of governance by participating both in defining the political body and establishing the policies that will have an impact their community so that new paradigms for their community can be chosen rather than imposed.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Exploring Pathways Between Community Health, Community Design and Artistic Thinking

In the last blog post, I got ahead of myself too quickly having created a new platform,  New Community Paradigms Wiki Map, to use in these explorations and experiments to discover new paradigms of change for our communities. 

Having covered the same material a number of times, I  can forget that people who may come across this blog more often than not have no idea about what has been done and little awareness of systems thinking as its foundation. One can't assume that people will be impressed you found something if they did not realize it was needed but undiscovered. 

The NCP Wiki map is a tool and while useful, not necessarily that important on its own, the same navigation can be achieved through the New Community Paradigms Wiki itself. It is the compass helping to find the way, not the destination to be discovered. However, having a strong interest in the New Community Paradigms Wiki Kumu Map (stand alone version) not only as my creation but as a different means of creative discovery, I am still going to use it as the basis for navigating some of the concepts included in this blog post.

An original intention of this blog and its related wiki was to provide online resources which could be used to create new community paradigms. The New Community Paradigms Wiki Map is designed to assist in that effort. 

A recent update to the New Community Paradigm wiki, under the Community Design wiki-page, is the Un-School of Disruptive Design | Experimental Knowledge in New York City which encourages people from diverse professional backgrounds to reorient, as the NCP Wiki map seeks to do, the way they perceive and act in the world, learning how to maximize their capacity to influence and affect positive social and environmental change. The concept of disruptive in the teaching design of an experimental un-school is what was appealing. Unlike many if not most of the resources provided in the NCP wiki though there is usually a cost to taking the courses they offer.

This is not the first occurrence of being willing to look at community design experimentally considered. The BMW Guggenheim Lab, also under Community Design was considered back in 2011 in the blog post, Placemaking for communities the canvas becomes the art. The experiment was concluded by 2014. The idea at the time, having had been recently introduced to the concept of placemaking (still not in the dictionary), being that a community’s geographically located, place-based foundation was previously thought of as being only a stage or canvas upon which creative community life happened but instead should be considered essential and integral to the community in its own right. Other resources provided under the Community Design wiki-page are more pragmatic and hands-on related to on-the-ground efforts. 

There is a connection through the wiki-focus page, Community Design to Greater Places | The Community for Urban Design, a crowdsourced “How-To” manual for creating great communities – cities, suburbs and rural areas.  Think of a Pinterest or Houzz for community design.”

“WHAT IS COMMUNITY DESIGN? Community design is about people, the places we live, and the spaces we share. Community design is also about how we come together and make decisions that affect our communities and neighbors: from crossroads in the country to homeowners’ associations in the suburbs to new apartments in the city.” 

There is continued interest and now greater ability to see how these resources and the concept of Community Design can be related to other concepts under new community paradigms, particularly at the mental model level of the Systems Thinking Iceberg Model

At the top of the Community Design wiki page, there is a link to its specific location in an NCP Kumu Wiki map. In this instance, a link will not be provided on these pages in the hope that readers will click on the designated link within the wiki-page. 

Mousing then over the revealed highlighted (green circled) element on the map points to other elements seen as being most closely related to Community Design, including most directly being Community Places and seen as being indirectly related to Community Arts and Planning the Urban Landscape. Clicking on these elements will open their respective narrative sections. Clicking on the white space of the map will open the narrative section of the entire map revealing all of the elements in the underlying Places map. 

This post is going to focus on the related idea of Community Arts. Clicking on the URL provided within the narrative section will take you to the Community Arts wiki page with its own collection of web-based resources. Bringing up the concept of disruptive again, a previous blog post, Art as a Path of Social Disruptive Innovation Towards New Community Paradigms can be found near the top of the wiki-page.

A Community Engagement question was, What's the impact of community art projects? A common response to this question leans towards finding the right metrics in terms of economic impact. However, as a result of new resources added to the New Community Paradigms Community Arts wiki-page, I now believe that focus is limited, that we make a mistake if we only think of integrating art and especially artistic thinking into our systems of community as window dressing for our economic development activities. We should instead be looking to art as a means of transforming and invigorating not only our economic development activities but also our community design and community governance as well.

Artistic thinking then has the potential to become a basis for developing new mental models. One question is how such a mental model and resources could be applied to efforts at Planning for Healthy Communities discussed in the last post. (mouse over Art and Healthy Communities). This is not meant to provide answers rather pathways for exploration. 

Then click on Planning for Healthy Communities. Clicking on the Healthy Communities link provided in the Planning for Healthy Communities narrative bridges over to the Healthy Communities map. One of the first NCP blog posts, Collaborating to Create Healthy Cities, can be found within Healthy Cities (click the URL).

The city of Richmond, California was one of the first cities in the United States to develop a comprehensive general plan element that addressed the link between public health and community design. A full profile on this effort is available from the Prevention Institute of Oakland, CA and more information can be found at the Healthy Cities blog

Adding, even more, resources to the Healthy Cities wiki—page was Pathways to Healthy Communities which came later.

“Davidson Design for Life (DD4L) is an initiative of the Town of Davidson to foster healthy community design through the use of health impact assessments (HIA), public participation, and collaborative efforts in Davidson, the Charlotte-Mecklenburg region, and North Carolina.”

Even though a small community of 11,750 people (2013) with Davidson College nearby with 1,920 students, the site provides information on “Health Impact Assessment: What is it?”, for the surrounding region and information on HIA in the US.

Pathways to Healthy Communities expands and makes more complex the network of connections, working at multiple levels. Incorporating artistic thinking effectively into these processes will take a great deal of insight and effort and will require finding the right leverage points.

Artistic-thinking was also seen as an approach that has the potential to be useful in broad-based, multifaceted change efforts such as Collective Impact as in Under The What, Why and How of Design Thinking and Collective Impact part 2 of 3.

Artistic thinking can help reach deeper insights, generate more ideas and seep into the community's fabric so that its influence becomes one more of dispersion within a complex community system rather than a transfer of information from one institution to another. An artistic perspective should not be left to the end though but made foundational in community design through design thinking, systems thinking, and other approaches to achieve Collective Impact through new community paradigms.

Collective Impact is, however, seen as being a number of steps or degrees away from Places and its internal connections to Community Design and Community Arts (click “In Places” to reveal), not being directly related to other efforts but an indirect accumulation of those efforts and seen, and in this evolving configuration, as being mitigated through Direct Democracy and Systems Thinking under Systems Thinking, Governance through Community under Community Governance and Design Thinking, placed under Community Management and Technology (you can also find by using the search box at the top right corner of the map section). Closer examinations may reveal means of strengthening these pathways. One path of exploration for the future is integrating Asset Based Community Development into both Collective Impact and Healthy Communities

These are not the only correct pathways available to integrate artistic thinking, community design and planning for healthy communities together but they at least point out potential pathways.

Past Posts