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Thursday, 20 September 2012

Spaces for 'good' to thrive

Candy Chang is an artist who creates conversations with her neighbours in the public space. This photo shows the ways in which she uses large post-its on derelict buildings in a neighbourhood to gather people's ideas for what they would rather see there.

In this short six minute TED video posted below, she talks about her latest project that started as a blackboard pinned to an unsightly derelict building in her neighbourhood that asks people to complete the sentence 'Before I die I want to.................'

I have become fascinated by Candy's work and have been wondering how to use it in my neighbourhood alongside an Appreciative Inquiry. I live in an inner town neighbourhood in the north of England. It is a neighbourhood that feels to be at a tipping point. I love living here and as I approach retirement age, I want to remain here.

The major issues are an active bit of gang warfare and overt drug dealing. The gang warfare is within one community living in two different parts of the town. Imaginatively, the gangs are called the 'Top-Enders' (our neighbourhood which sits on a hill) and the 'Bottom-Enders' who live, as you have guessed, in the valley.

These gang members are also the brothers, sons, nephews, grandsons of the families in our community. Not surprisingly, no one is saying anything. From time to time we have the odd murder, more regular stabbings, beatings and occasionally even shots are fired. It was as well that the summer has been continuously wet. This has dampened the sparks that began to fire when the sun shone necessitating a significant police presence on foot and in the sky.

And like every other community there are so many positives, which is why I want to stay. And if I want to stay, I have to play my part. 

So........if people cannot speak out to tackle the bad, can we start to actively build on and create even more of the good? Could increasing the space occupied by the good and the positive actually decrease the space for the bad and the harmful. 

These gang members claim the physical territory - 'the streets are ours' is a direct quote. A bit of unexplained pop up 'Chang' magic might just be the way to intrigue and beguile before carrying out a more formal appreciative process to create a positive action plan.

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