Kicking off Themes of Engagement

1st Mar 2013

Last Monday (February 25th) the Themes of Engagement project team finally got together in a very successful ‘kicking off’ meeting. In the handsome and inviting spaces of the base of Creative Concern in the heart of Manchester, we reunited people from Trafford Council, FutureEverything, Snook, the CX and academics from Imagination Lancaster.

n between biscuits, coffee and the excitement of finally getting together we shared our interests for participating in the project and our previous relevant experience: what a fascinating team we formed!
Jayne Stephenson from Trafford Council re-opened the discussion with a presentation on the council’s necessities and areas of interest. She offered us a profile of ‘disengaged’ or ‘difficult to get’ communities in the area, and programs that the local government is currently running.
Two things became clear to us; firstly, our project should be directed, somehow, to the ‘stronger families’ – a local government program that is looking to engage families with repeating patterns of problems in crime, unemployment and health, with the council. The project should address at the same time democratic divide – levels of participation, and civic engagement – and digital divide, by creating a tool, a mechanism, an intervention or a prototype for that community. The project also has an interest in a practical report on positive uses of natural themes of motivation to engage with communities.

In this sense the project would cover some exploratory field-work and some prototype making with co-design and participatory methodologies.
Even though the scope of work was still very loose by the end of the session we resumed the day with a positive atmosphere and clear idea of the areas to which each of the participants could contribute.
There is a tension between the sensitivity and complexity of the community we would like to reach and the elements of fun, creativity and playfulness we would like to add to the project. But optimally, in such a tension is where the creative challenge resides and the feeling is that the team is taking on the challenge!