With an interest in how communities and local-stakeholders can steer and manage how their city grows and is managed, throughout my work I have been researching and experiencing, first hand, different collaborative governance models that aim to allow for this kind of involvement.
This research has included action research – conducted through my work as a consultant working to support and/or help establish: Neighbourhood Forums, Business Improvement Districts, Traders Associations.
Supplemented by my position outside of work as a committee member on my Tenants and Residents Association and Friends of Parks group.
I was and continue to be interested in how to enable more joined up working between groups to see a more cohesive urban fabric.
Different actors (‘residents’, ‘business owners’) silos whilst occupying the same geographical terrain can lead to duplication, competition, missed opportunities.
In more recent years more collaborative models have emerged that seek to bring different actors together.
To learn more I’ve taken several independent study trips – to Bologna, Rotterdam, Bilbao where they are paving the way.
Co-cities an initiative that has emerged out of LabGov in Bologna – an cross-departmental research laboratory – being of particular interest at the time (2015).
“Co-cities: a research project aimed at developing, testing and adapting to the urban environment the design principles for the governance of the commons located by the Economics’ Nobel prize Elinor Ostrom to the urban context.”
In 2015 I attended the ‘City as Commons’ conference in Bologna, linked to the co-cities movement, a conference with drew out themes around collaborative governance and commons and commoning in cities.
Interviewing key figures behind the initiative, including Christian Iaione, innovator behind Bologna’s Co-cities Protocol, I produced an article, featured in the Academy of Urbanisms Journal informed by my learning Co-governance: building a stronger spirit of collaboration.
Other articles I’ve written that pull out these themes include:
– Neighbourhoods come and go: managing gentrification – an interview with Euan Mills – then chair Chatsworth Road Neighbourhood Forum and ex-chair of the Chatsworth Road Traders and Residents Association which pull out his thoughts around the roles and responsibilities of governing bodies.
– Pelican crossing which focused on the strong role played by the chair of the Pelican Plus Tenants and Residents Association (on which I lived at the time) in strengthening the local fabric of the estate and beyond – through sensitive partnership building with local art galleries, local businesses combined with her approach to engaging local residents.
This research is ongoing and a key focus in my work.
I am also interested in thinking around how to make these governance groups easier and more appealing to be apart of, knowing that many people cannot commit the time to participate – nor would they want to, forged around long and regular meetings.
This partly saw my shift into the arts – interested in how participatory creative practice can enliven tired structures.