This seminar taps into Sophia’s professional history working in community engagement in Australia. It can be run over one full day or in two separate parts. Sophia leads participants to ways of seeing where they can appreciate the context in which a site is embedded. Building on this, she describes methodologies for engaging one of the most potent sources of knowledge about the patterns and the interrelations for any given site – the local people. Engaging local people in design and decision making is notoriously difficult to do authentically and well. Different models are explored and the projects that Sophia has been involved in are described in some detail.
Learning to make decisions collaboratively and to co design our future environments is an important skill in the move towards a more participatory democracy. It is arguable that as the world experiences the large scale changes likely with climate change and peak oil it will be important that we can work together well and reshape our worlds cooperatively. Developing our skills in community decision making may give us the best chance of achieving a peaceful transition should large scale change occur.
This seminar is appropriate for planning and architecture professionals and students and could be adapted for community groups or businesses wanting to establish more participatory decision making practices.