10 years of Connected Communities

Last week, AHRC released two videos to share insights from its Connected Communities programme which you can view on their homepage. Connected Communities was an innovative cross-council initiative, which brought academics and partners from civil society, local government, the arts, culture and social enterprise to work together to understand the role and impact of communities in our health and well-being, economic prosperity and creativity, our history and our future. It was unique in encouraging work not only within, but also with communities, challenging existing ways of knowledge creation and power dynamics.

I was very fortunate to be involved in this programme, through a series of funded projects and through participation in its events and festivals. Some of my personal highlights were working with the Wards Corner Community Coalition as part of the Creative Citizens project, which led to the creation of a 3D virtual tour of their proposal for the re-development of the site (see some info here) and the development of a community asset mapping method in collaboration with colleagues at the Helen Hamlyn Centre for Design – you can download the Seeing Things Differently booklet which contains the toolkit.

I also remember fondly the Scaling up project and our brilliantly diverse cross-pollination projects with 6 small civil society organisations, the camaraderie with fellow academics and activists during our work mapping civic action in Greece, and the feeling of solidarity during AHRC’s Utopia Fair in Somerset House.

There is still one project running, Empowering Design Practices, in which we worked with many faith groups around the country and which was the longest of all and the richest in terms of challenging perceptions for me!

Through this research I have learned to see things differently, developed new ways of working and I have made new friends. Who says that research is all blood and tears?

You might also like to see the reflections of Connected Communities leadership fellow Keri Facer.

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