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.

Wednesday, February 27, 2019

Revisiting Community Arts as Connector to New Community Paradigms

The last six months have been spent on Systems Practice, which was finally determined to be a potentially viable component of Direct Democracy and Systems Thinking and seen as lending credence to the Victor Havel quote:

“Hope is not the conviction that something will turn out well, but the certainty that something makes sense, regardless of how it turns out,”

through additional interactions with the And? It’s All Connected and the Ecology of Systems Thinking Facebook groups.

Systems Practice was also recognized as requiring substantially involved effort yet still only being one aspect of creating new community paradigms, important even essential but not sufficient.

This post returns to the initial purpose of this effort of discovering pathways to new community paradigms by updating the New Community Paradigms Wiki which has been neglected for some time. The first revision to the wiki is the inclusion of a disclaimer concerning intention. It is a learning site that is being shared, there is no claim to authority and regarding security, there isn’t any but then it doesn’t require anyone to provide information, private or otherwise. While a disclaimer to not having any definitive answers only shared explorations may be true that is not made as explicitly.

The work on the Systems Practice series was largely interiorly focused involving introspective contemplation. The change in direction now is to a more exteriorly focused perspective, for at least a while, resulting in more ideas being gathered and added to the pathways to new community paradigms. One of the goals of this effort being to demonstrate how ideas are connected to a far greater extent and far more extensively than may be commonly realized.

A number of new resources have been made available since the last update with new connections and pathways to be explored which means potentially that new insights are possible. This means looking more outward to determine how to apply these insights.

One new area of interest that will be explored is the currently rising idea of a #GreenNewDeal. Despite being popular in circles for which I have an affinity, it is still in the exploration stages. At this point, it seems hopefully aspirational and pragmatically problematic but a good deal of time has just been spent demonstrating through Systems Practice that the pragmatically problematic can begin to be overcome. Recognizing at the same time, other pathways need to be added.

The first of these pathways to be revisited is Community Arts. A number of changes have occurred since the last update with, Art as a Path of Social Disruptive Innovation Towards New Community Paradigms. One of the organizations, Cultural Strategies Initiative, is gone but a number of new resources have been discovered.

One of the more recent is Smoke Signals Studio, the subject of a TED Talk, who believe that “a practice for truth-telling and rooted in assembly is powerful”. Some notable quotes from their talk seemed particularly relevant in perhaps providing some of the depth required to bring about something like the #GreenNewDeal.

"See, laws never change culture, but culture always changes laws." 

"They understood what many of us are just now realizing -- that to get people to build the ship, you've got to get them to long for the sea; that data rarely moves people, but great art always does." 

Among other resources that have been added but not previously acknowledged are What's Happening - A Blade of Grass which provides resources to artists who demonstrate artistic excellence and serve as innovative conduits for social change by fostering an inclusive, practical discourse about the aesthetics, function, ethics and meaning of socially engaged art that resonates within and outside the contemporary art dialogue. One of their projects was by Chinatown Art Brigade, who dealt with gentrification in New York.

The Laundromat Project believes art, culture, and engaged imaginations can change the way people see their world, open them up to new ideas, and connect them with their neighbors providing invaluable assets in furthering community wellbeing.

A number of the new resources have to do with storytelling seen from both sides, telling and listening. Storytelling and Social Change: A Strategy Guide | Working Narrative works with communities to tell great stories that inspire, activate and enliven our democracy. Their work is located at the intersection of arts, technology, and social change. Hidden Voices seeks to empower underrepresented populations to effectively tell their stories by engaging communities in dialogue and positive action to strengthen community cohesion and provides pathways for increased communication, cooperation, and respect. 

A guide to Listening Matters | Community Organiserswhile perhaps technically not arts-based organ, is by the Company of Community Organisers, the national body established to support the training and development of community organizing in England. It provides an important aspect to effectively completing a feedback loop in the creation of a community’s story about itself. 

“Listening to people is the foundation of community organising because it builds trust and relationships, uncovers issues and is an essential starting point for bringing people together to share stories, ideas and action.”


The site A S . I F | ART + SCIENCE IN THE FIELD works at rebuilding cross-disciplinary connections while keeping a balance between the two cultures of art and science, following their own creative paths while maintaining accuracy and critical thinking when conducting, and communicating about, science. has also been added, which though a creation of the EmcArts and featured in the last update, was not included in the NCP wiki through an oversight.

The mission of Imagining America | Artists & Scholars in Public Life is to publicly engage artists, designers, scholars, and community activists working toward the democratic transformation of higher education and civic life by creating democratic spaces to foster and advance publicly engaged scholarship that draws on arts, humanities, and design.

Animating Democracy places a high value on learning from and building capacity and visibility for practitioners’ work on the ground by bringing to bear Americans for the Arts’ strengths in research, policy, professional development, visibility, and advocacy specifically to advance and elevate arts for change work on field, cross-sector, and national levels. The group was also featured in the post The What, Why and How of Design Thinking and Collective Impact part 2 of 3 as advancing the role of the arts in fostering citizen participation and social change, along with Art VULUPS doing the same with geography, environmental science, land use planning, sustainability, art and creativity concepts.

Other added resources deal directly with finding and establishing artists for the community. Easle is supposed to make it easy to find and commission independent creators for a project. Street I Am - highlights street culture, street fest, busker street art, and graffiti street entertainment. Art Prof provides a unique opportunity for a global community to have equal access to a free visual arts education by removing barriers to art education that exist due to the high cost of higher education & private classes while providing easy-to-follow content for people of all ages and means. The site Dance/USA — The national service organization for professional dance looks to establishing legacy by the preservation of art form for future generations. Their Artist's Legacy Toolkit helps organize and preserve materials in ways that are practical but neither time-intensive nor expensive.

This is not meant to be an exhaustive or comprehensive list of resources, merely suggestions for possible ways to incorporate artistic thinking, along with design and systems thinking into the civic dialogue.

Community Arts is seen as a means of expressing what has been termed the Soul of a Community. The most significant change to the Community Arts wiki page is seeing it as being not only a component of Community Design but also more as a means of Advocacy By and For Community.

In regard to its place in the still being developed NCP Wiki Map on Kumu, Community Arts is a component of Places and a part of Art and Health Communities, which has been recently updated (read corrected) which in turn is related to Pathways to Healthy Communities.

Perhaps additional new pathways can be found incorporating Community Arts more deeply into Advocacy By and For Community and then extending into Community Ecology based on the concept that the community basis to address the health of the populace and community basis to address the health of the environment as in the #GreenNewDeal being the same.

Past Posts