Institutions and communities

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View through Honey Lane Farm just before a storm. The organic farm at CERES Community Environment Park, growing on top of landfill and underneath the transmission lines.
"Communities are what people like you say people like me live in". John McTernan at User Generated Cities Forum, Renew Adelaide 2011.

How does an institution, a government agency, or a large organisation engage with community initiatives without over whelming, or distorting that initiative? And, how does a community initiative productively engage with institutions so that they may best benefit from what those institutions have to offer?

Institutions arrive with their "expertise" and resources. Community arrive with their local knowledge and understanding. How do these two perspectives converge for useful community initiatives? What are the roles of power, trust and conviviality (civility?)? Of culture, language and nuance? What are stories of successful institution/agency/organization collaborations with communities? What did each of them do to make the initiative successful? What did each gain? What did each give up for the shared goal(s)?

Let's explore these questions. Let's look for patterns, be they cautionary tales or heuristics & "rules of thumb" for success. We'll gather using a group interaction form called "Open Space" where each of us has the opportunity to convene small conversations around the issue of community and institutional collaboration. At the end of the day we will harvest and share what we learn and discover together. Maybe we'll plant seeds of additional learning or collaborative work.

Bring your question, story or challenge to think about together. Come to listen how other people talk about these issues. Come to recruit people to your cause. Come to present your work. Come to learn with and from each other.

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