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University–community collaborations are often complex, fraught, emotional affairs. Participants devote a lot of time, energy and emotion to bridging differences, improvising solutions, and making things work. This can be difficult and sometimes frustrating, but can also have a transformative legacy for the participants and the wider communities they are part of. These legacies, however, are not always easy to observe, identify and authorise. As we will explore in this chapter, some of the most important legacies of community–university partnerships are intangible and refer to emotions, affects, ongoing processes and emerging potentials: for example, inspiration, confidence, friendship, as well as knowledge, ideas and networks. These legacies are at least as important as projects’ harder, more tangible and easily measurable legacies.
Our exploration of legacies started with a shared interest in the role that values play in collaborative research, and in the way in which we understand related outcomes. Exploring this through the concept of legacy was particularly relevant as it allows for a more fluid understanding, and one that can be shaped by the local project context. Thus, the theoretical starting point for this work was that making the values within collaborative projects explicit would allow for the identification and evaluation of those, ‘less tangible’, legacies. Our University of Brighton authors Harder, Burford and Hoover previously established that a values-based approach could be very successful for evaluating ‘intangible’ outcomes and achievements projects led by civil society organisations (Burford et al, 2013). They brought the approach, named WeValue, as a raw starting point to the members of two complex partnerships called Scaling Up Co-Design and the Authority Research Network (ARN), and then collectively as a consortium we co-explored, co-developed and co-generated a localisable, values-based approach for a new purpose: to identify and legitimise legacies (not only outcomes) from partnership projects (not projects from a single group or organisation).
By ‘starting from values’, we mean starting with what participants consider valuable, meaningful and worthwhile in the context of their group or partnership. An explicit values lens is first locally constructed, and then used to view, identify and evaluate legacies. The WeValue approach was previously developed to allow a formal, rigorous evaluation of ‘soft’ or ‘intangible’ achievements.
From the noticeboard in the newsagent's window to multilayered online networks using social networking technologies, citizens access networks of support that uncover previously invisible opportunities. Such networks, online and offline, are facilitated by the use of social networking platforms but also through the everyday face-to-face interactions made possible by communities within localities. These overlapping networks are complex and dynamic and in this chapter we present two case studies where the micro-level actions of creative citizens generate impact within their communities and beyond. We consider how such actions, supported by and amplified by networks, often have wider impacts for the creative economy and for the relationship between citizens and those in power, taking us into territory illuminated by complexity theory.
In our first example we consider how a highly networked creative citizen has worked to fashion a ‘milieu’ to serve a community's creative needs and grow its cultural capital. We then turn to the way that citizen journalists, through a rejection of traditional journalistic practices and discourses, use networks to provide insight into everyday life, countering what Parker and Karner have described as externally-imposed ‘negative reputational geographies’ (2011: 309). In both cases these creative citizens enact a deft utilisation of their online and offline networks. Our intention here is to see beyond debates that tend to situate the affordances of networked technologies as the determining factor for success and instead ask how such technologies are put to use by creatives working in specific fields of cultural production. How do the networked actions of creative citizens create impact for themselves, their communities and for their practice? We begin by looking at debates about how the internet has by turns created and narrowed the opportunities for greater civic participation, before identifying useful frameworks to examine our case studies of networked creatives.
The civic potential of the internet
We might presume that in articulating a case for the importance of networks we take at face value the digitally enhanced role of technology as a transformative tool for positive change – a tool that seemingly allows those previously cut off from cultural or political participation to voice their concerns or engage in creative acts that will find global audiences.
In this chapter we identify some varieties of creative citizenship, not with the expectation of achieving a comprehensive taxonomy, but in order to test the scope, robustness and potential value of creative citizenship, both as an idea and as a set of practices, with reference to the case studies undertaken in the Creative Citizen project.
Creative citizenship as a concept can help us consider how ‘everyday’ creative acts – such as cooking, dancing, knitting or debating – can generate community engagement. It gives us a way of rendering coherent an array of otherwise disparate phenomena: for example, when pictures and messages in social media from the streets of a turbulent neighbourhood become a catalyst for mobilising people around an issue or cause; or when cultural or artistic activities transform a planning consultation meeting into a creative experience, where urban issues are deliberated upon in a more collaborative and dynamic spirit. These are examples of creative citizenship in action.
‘Creative citizenship’ conceptualises the everyday creativity of ordinary people (that is, not just creative professionals) as a core civic resource, something that adds to the capacity of the community and which harnesses their combined energy for change. Such everyday creativity cannot be understood in isolation from the civic networks within which it is situated. Creative citizenship does not merely describe the acts of creative individuals. It depends upon and contributes to the civic networks where it occurs, especially now that the boundaries between producers and consumers are diminished by digital abundance. It is more about the creativity of groups than the creativity of individuals. This chapter explores a range of ways in which acts of creativity occur within a civic and communicative context.
We test our theoretical approach by applying it to case studies in the Creative Citizen project, including examples of activism, community journalism, hyperlocal publishing, insurgent and formal community-led planning practices, and to informal and formal creative practices developed around music and media production.
Rage, renewal and everyday acts: initiation and purpose
Acts of citizenship can be considered creative in various ways. They may be creative in the same way that Schumpeterian ‘creative destruction’ is, where innovation is disruptive or a threat in circumstances where renewal is needed.
Acts of creative citizenship require places, where challenges and tensions generate energy, inviting resolution through creative collaboration. In this chapter we aim to shed light on processes of place-making, whether they occur in physical, digital or hybrid spaces. We adopt a broad definition of place to explore what place and making mean within three urban settings of our action research. In all three of these locations, we encounter groups that share an interest in the relationship between artistic imagination and its political expression in projects of urban renewal. We pay particular attention to the ways in which communicative infrastructures may contribute to the construction of social relationships and civic agency, leading to dividends in the form of enhanced networks of affinity, trust and resilience.
Place and media making in a digital world
The emergence of web-based community news sites has provoked much discussion about the citizen voice in localities (Radcliffe, 2012; Goggin et al, 2015). Hyperlocal news services are usually discussed in relation to their value as a potential solution to the problem of news plurality in localities. However, hyperlocal news can also play a crucial role in place-making. Kirsty Hess (2012) has argued that the emergence of the term hyperlocal is evidence of ‘a reinvigorated interest in geography, as media industry and entrepreneurs experiment with new business models in the changing technological landscape’ (Hess, 2012: 53). Borrowing from Manuel Castells, she argues that small local newspapers act as nodes, holding ‘a degree of symbolic power in constructing the idea of community and the local’ (Hess, 2012: 56). In a digitally networked world, geography is ‘local and global at the same time’ (Castells, 2012: 222).
The perspective of place is also fundamental within the broader landscape of participatory media/arts and community media. Goldfarb (2002) shows how participatory creative networks generate communities of interest, fostering civic engagement through their media making. As Couldry et al (2014: 1) write: ‘digital media and digital infrastructures provide the means to recognise people in new ways as active narrators of their individual lives and the issues they share with others’. These affordances are said to be particularly important for young people, who through creative media acts acquire agency in civic debates (Günnel, 2006), offering a ‘voice to the voiceless’ (Lewis P., 2006).
Throughout this book creative citizenship is explored theoretically and empirically as a concept that intrinsically leads to value generation. Acts of creative citizenship bring personal, cultural, economic, social and civic benefits, not only to individuals and communities directly involved in these acts, but also to the wider public. So, hyperlocal blogs may generate income for amateur journalists but also benefit local residents and businesses through communicating and raising awareness about issues that affect them, ranging from the weather and local services to political and planning issues (Nesta, 2013). Similarly, the benefits of community-led design enhance social value through civic participation, more democratic outcomes, creation of public goods, improved social capital and stronger community. In boosting qualities such as self-expression, confidence and skills, they also generate personal value. (Alexiou et al, 2013).
The Creative Citizen project is concerned not only with understanding and capturing current practice and its value, as enacted through the use of different media, but also exploring how this pursuit of value can be further supported and advanced.
One of the instruments we used to explore questions of value was asset mapping. In community engagement and community development theory and practice, the term ‘asset’ has long been used as an alternative for the term ‘value’. Assets are tangible or intangible resources that have a potential – they can grow or be better used to achieve something new. Drawing from the strengths of different existing approaches, asset mapping was innovatively used in the Creative Citizen project both as an analytic research tool for capturing people's values and perceptions of value, and as a practical tool to support community engagement and co-creation.
The chapter reviews different asset mapping or asset-based development approaches and presents the approach developed and used in the Creative Citizen project, discussing theoretical and methodological insights. The chapter links to Chapter 4, which is focused on appraising and articulating the value of creative citizenship through the lens of cultural value.
Approaches to asset mapping
Asset mapping is a methodology used with community groups and organisations to help unearth, capture and visualise existing resources and capacities, which may otherwise lie undiscovered and underused.
The subject of this paper is design intentionality. The paper is concerned with the property of the mind to hold intentional states (its capacity to represent or reflect existing and nonexisting realities) and with the way that these mental states are constructed during design tasks. The aim is to develop a mathematical theory of design intentionality, capturing the structures and processes that characterize an intentional system with the mental ability to address design tasks. The philosophical notion of intentionality is approached methodologically from a complexity theoretic perspective. More specifically, the focus is placed on the mathematical characterization of the organizational complexity of intentional states and the type of phase transitions that occur on the mental states of an intentional system during design tasks. The paper uses category theory in order to build a framework that is able to mathematically capture the meaning of these notions.
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