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What it means to work on your doorstep

What it means to work on your doorstep

This is a quick recap of the second in a series of three workshops hosted in collaboration with PlatformThirty1 as part of our new Creative Agents programme. The session was led by Jodie Cresswell-Waring and held at Somercotes Village Hall on Tuesday 17th June, 2024.

How might we step outside or comfort zones, find the courage to get to know ourselves and our neighbours in new ways, and spark creativity where we live?

Ouuufff that’s a big question right (!?!) feeling a wee bit uncomfortable just thinking about it, but with Jodie as our guide and a few lovely old match boxes we had a lot of fun exploring this together.

We kicked off the session with a quick re-cap from workshop 1, The Journey to Co-Creation. Jodie explained that this session was designed to dive a bit deeper into the “muck and the magic” of co-creation and to zoom in on the unique challenges and possibilities of collaborating with your neighbours in the place you live. Jody shared stories of living and working in her community and invited us to think deeply about the many hats we all wear and the role we might play in sparking and spreading magic within the communities we’re part of.

Every match is made to be lit…

Jodie kicked us off with her “Matchbox Musings”. Using matches and matchboxes to help us to think about people and places.

If every match is made to be lit, and every matchbox contains all that’s needed to create fire. How do we create the spark?

Jodie shared stories and experiences of the warmth, light and power that can be kindled when you’re able to create the right conditions for people “to spark”, and for sparks to spread. She also warned us of the incredibly delicate nature of this process and how often, the imbalance of power and agency of “professionals” working in community space, can undermine the potency of the raw materials (… a bit like dunking your match box in bucket of water!)

We talked about the external and internal narratives that a community exists within. And how disempowering it can be to exist within a box or a story that someone else (no matter how generously) has created for you rather than one you have created for yourself.

Before Striking a Light

To get us thinking a bit more about this and the places, people and the grit needed to create a spark, Jodie invited us to create a mini “match-box community”. Thinking about all the elements that might help bring our community sizzling to life.

What excites you?
What’s gonna motivate people to get involved?
What’s the grit you bring?
What do you want to nurture?
What people are you thinking about?

Each question was connected to an object that we added into our matchboxes including a tiny wee bottle filled with the grit (sparkly sea salt!) we need to bring!

Never Play With Matches!

We had so much fun with the match boxes (I still have mine in my pocket) that we started to run out of time!

Jodie raced us quickly through some thoughts on public art and the act of developing something with the intention of permanence. She highlighted the complexities of developing physical interventions that have a life beyond the original creators. Communities often want to celebrate and mark the physical presence of a space, and she reminded us that this is a very different beast from developing temporary spaces or activities that are built for the pleasure of the moment, and for people involved to enjoy. She touched on how important it is that communities feel ownership of anything that is going to be part of their everyday lives and what a difference it can make to involve as many people as possible in meaningful ways. She shared a few examples of high profile projects that have unsettled, and/or were undervalued or rejected by their communities, even when there was a wholesome intention to gift the community with “high quality” art. She also shared a few of her own bumpy rides with working on mural projects and the dance that had to happen between artistic freedom and authentic heritage. We heard stories about the beauty and brutality of these worlds colliding within the community and how important skilled co-design was to finding a way through. We also got to hear about one of her favourite examples of community driven public art Dream St Helens located on the Sutton Manor Colliery in St Helen’s Merseyside.

Getting out of our (match)boxes!

The last area we touched quickly was boundaries. One of the most challenging and beautiful parts of working on your doorstep! Jodes talked about the paradox of needing to “bring your whole self” but “not putting yourself at the centre”. And shared this beautiful quote to open us up to new ways of thinking about our “fertile edges” rather than our “rigid boundaries”:

“Complex networks of relationships offer very different possibilities for thinking about self and other. The very idea of boundaries changes profoundly. Rather than being a self-protective wall, boundaries become the place of meeting and exchange. We usually think of these edges as the means to define separateness, defining what’s inside and what’s outside. But in living systems, boundaries are something quite different. They are the place where new relationships take form, an important place of exchange and growth as an individual chooses to respond to another. As connections proliferate and the system weaves itself into existence, it becomes difficult to interpret boundaries as defenses, or even as markers of where one individual ends”

The Promise and Paradox of Community in The Community of the Future. Jossey-Bass, 1998 Margaret J. Wheatley & Myron Kellner-Rogers

If you’re curious to find out more you can dive into our Creative Agents Padlet and let us know of any other useful resources that we can add in.

Massive thanks to Jodie for sharing so openly and generously.

Creative Agents

We ended the session with a bit of a Q&A about our new Neighbourhood Creative Agents programme. You can find out more here and apply by sending us a completed version of this form here by 4th July.

We talked through the dates, application process and some of the requirements. A few questions that came up below:

Q: Can I apply with someone else?
A: You’re welcome to apply with someone else, but you would need to be able to make that work within the same budgets. For the peer learning sessions we would ask you to nominate one person to take part, so that there is a consistency of experience for all six Creative Agents.

Q: Do I need to know where I’m going to work?
A:
 Yes. This is a place-based programme working on your doorstep or in a place that feels like home to you.

Q: Do I have to spend all the money?
A:
 No. Each Creative Agent will have up to £5000 to spend, but not everyone will need / want to use that amount. Pots of funding for each Creative Agent will be held on our Open Collective platform. You will be trained up to use the platform and this will allow you to draw down expenses and make payments as needed, rather than managing expenditure through a personal account. Any unspent money will be rolled over to support future Creative Agents.

Next up!

Join us at Riddings Park Community Centre on Thurs 27th June for: Creative Agents- Planning for change and successful outcomes Tickets, Thu 27 Jun 2024 at 10:30 | Eventbrite

We’ll be talking about how to develop project ideas with outcomes and learning in mind. Thinking about how to juggle timelines, budgets, risks and resourcing when ideas are still forming.

ABOUT US

We are Make/Shift. A growing collective of people, groups and organisations who believe in the creative power of communities to make positive change in the places they live.

We are rooted in Amber Valley, Derbyshire with networks reaching out beyond. We believe everyone is creative and want Amber Valley to be a place full of makers, where everyone’s creativity matters.

A big part of our work is testing new ways of working and learning together, which shift more power and resources to communities to make decisions, take action, and make change together on their doorstep.

Make/Shift is part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places programme. Find out more >>> www.wearemakeshift.uk

Platform Thirty1 are a local arts organisation specialising in enabling others to cultivate social change through artistic practice, cultural endeavour and creativity.

We are interested in changing the balance of power and agency through a co-created approach, with partners and participants. There are three core strands to our work:

  • Sector Development: predominately cross-sector work supporting professionals in arts, education, and neighbourhood spaces
  • Community: predominately co-creating with residents and a community-first approach in ex-industrial places in Derbyshire
  • Refuges: predominately women and children who are victims and survivors of domestic abuse

Find out more >>> www.platformthirty1.com

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The Journey To Co-Creation

The Journey To Co-Creation

This is a quick recap of the first in a series of three workshops hosted in collaboration with PlatformThirty1 as part of our new Creative Agents programme. The session was led by Jodie Cresswell-Waring and held at Infinite Wellbeing Community Centre in Heanor on Tuesday 11th June 2024.

What does it take to be a conscious, co-creation Community Facilitator? How can we disrupt the Lead Artist & Project Manager model?
The session was structured to unpack these two pretty epic questions together. Jodie tapped into her vast experience of living and working in her community to help share insights about what it takes to hold space for deep connection and collaboration in the places we call home and how we all have a role to play in shifting how power, resources and ownership flow … and believe it our not it all started with Zebras!

Let’s Dazzle
Did you know that a herd or group of Zebras is called “a dazzle”. What a brilliant word! Like a pod or a gaggle or a swarm but so much cooler! Together, a dazzle of zebras can outwit their predators by combining their unique stripe patterns together into dynamic group patterns that make it almost impossible to separate out individuals from the group.

The workshop got us thinking about what might become possible if we could all be part of a dazzle of neighbours working together in the places we care about. This was defo my favourite fact about Zebras, but there were loads more and Jodie shared her top facilitator facts in a super playful and creative way using each of the zebra facts to get us thinking about what it takes to hold space as a community facilitator.

Then we each took a bit of time to think about what our own unique facilitator stripes might be. Digging into our unique interests, talents, skills, experiences, passions, place, positionality to create our own zebra stripes.

Before forming our own wee momentary dazzle as a group.

Greater Creative
Jodes went on to talk a bit more about her experience working in Blackwell Parish, where she grew up and still lives. Over the past four years, more than 4000 neighbours have been involved in Greater Creative, working together to make Blackwell Parish a community-led, connected, playful and proud parish that celebrates its people and places. You can find out a bit more about this deep, rigorous and inspiring work (and get along to support it) here.

Buzz Words
We spent a bit of time unpacked some of the buzz words that are currently thrown around and used very differently in different sectors. These are the definitions that Jodes uses in relation to her work:

Culture — the way of life of a particular people

“Culture is made by everyone, everyday in loads of different ways”

Co-Creation — Intentionally collaborating together to decide / make / do

“Co-creation shifts power, resources and ownership towards the people the work is intended to benefit, as opposed to the traditional ‘top down’ approach. It encourages every individual to activate their creative potential and realise their own ability to make change”.

Cultural Democracy — everybody’s heritage and cultural expression is worthwhile and deserving of an equitable share of power, resource and voice.

“Cultural Democracy describes an approach to arts and culture that actively engages everyone in deciding what counts as culture, where it happens, who makes it and who experiences it”

Co-Creation — Processes and approaches:
We talked about some of the different approaches and methods that underpin co-creation.

  • takes places with and not to
  • is process driven not product driven
  • has no set outputs but is outcome focused
  • prioritises how not what
  • shifts agency and power and challenges privelge
  • brings partners together on an equal footing
  • is relational not transactional
  • empowers and includes
  • requires transparency, self awareness and honesty
  • the end goal is for community to own and lead / and that you are no longer needed

And about some of ways of doing and being that make this work possible:
# Listening #Responding #Caring #Adapting #Representing

Power
The standout theme from the session was around power and ownership. Getting us to think much more deeply and honestly about this. And sitting with some of the discomfort that this can throw up.

What power have you got? Where did you get it from? How do you use it?

Everyone had a go at using the Agency Scale designed to help people and organisations think about where power and agency sits for different activities and projects they are involved in. The tool was originally developed by Co-Creating Change a network and programme exploring the role artists, cultural organisations and communities can play in co-creating change together. Jodes made it clear that there is no right and wrong but that it can be a really important and humbling part of the process to be open and honest about where you’re at, how long it can take and how much work goes into really getting power, resources and ownership flowing in new ways.

If you’re curious to find out more you can dive into our Creative Agents Padlet and let us know of any other useful resources that we can add in!

Massive thanks to Jodie for sharing so openly and generously!

Creative Agents
We ended the session with a bit of a Q&A about our new Neighbourhood Creative Agents programme. You can find out more here and apply by sending us a completed version of this form here by 4th July.

We talked through the dates, application process and some of the requirements. A few questions that came up below:

Q: What if I live just outside Amber Valley
A: This programme is about working in a place you care about. The place, neighbourhood, street, village, community you choose to work with as a Creative Agent will need to be in Amber Valley. If have a meaningful connection and can tell us why you want to work here, its definitely worth applying.

Q: Can the budget be used to pay for my own time?
A: Yes. If that’s needed and important to making something happen where you live. Each Creative Agents budget / approach / situation will be different so we’re happy to explore what might work best for you in your context.

Q: Will shortlisted applicants be interviewed?
A: We’ll arrange an informal zoom call with all shortlisted Creative Agents in July.

Feedback
Some lovely comments at the end of the session:

“Definitely got the cogs moving on what is possible to be part of for this community”

“I had quite a few “aha” moments”

“Its got my brain whirring!”

“I’m thinking about how I can change what I do already”

Next up!
Join us at Somercotes Village Hall on Monday 17th June for:
What it means to work on your doorstep Tickets, Mon 17 Jun 2024 at 10:00 | Eventbrite

We’ll be diving into what it means to work on your doorstep. Exploring the hats we wear as professionals, & the hearts we have living in a community. Sharing tales & talking through the beauty & brutality of these two worlds meeting in this practice.

ABOUT US
We are Make/Shift. A growing collective of people, groups and organisations who believe in the creative power of communities to make positive change in the places they live.

We are rooted in Amber Valley, Derbyshire with networks reaching out beyond. We believe everyone is creative and want Amber Valley to be a place full of makers, where everyone’s creativity matters.

A big part of our work is testing new ways of working and learning together, which shift more power and resources to communities to make decisions, take action, and make change together on their doorstep.

Make/Shift is part of Arts Council England’s Creative People and Places programme. Find out more >>> www.wearemakeshift.uk

Platform Thirty1 are a local arts organisation specialising in enabling others to cultivate social change through artistic practice, cultural endeavour and creativity.

We are interested in changing the balance of power and agency through a co-created approach, with partners and participants. There are three core strands to our work:

Sector Development: predominately cross-sector work supporting professionals in arts, education, and neighbourhood spaces
Community: predominately co-creating with residents and a community-first approach in ex-industrial places in Derbyshire
Refuges: predominately women and children who are victims and survivors of domestic abuse
Find out more >>> www.platformthirty1.com

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