Learning Network Human-Centered Design and Community-Led Development

The affair continues …

agenda February 19, 2020

Valentine’s Day – 2020. A romantic get together with Butterfly Works and The Hunger Project took place. Both initiated this session in collaboration with The Spindle. This session emphasized that power needs to shift from top-down development towards communities in charge of their sustainable impact. Together with more than 40 participants from 15 different nationalities, we were on cloud nine for a day! We discussed the concepts of Community-Led Development and  Human-Centered Design and explored what expert-practitioners in The Netherlands can learn from each other. Resulting in much eagerness to share best practices and best fuck-ups!

Transform the current top-down development paradigm
During the introduction round, it became clear that there was a large presence of different experiences, nationalities and the motivation to engage and learn. Evelijne Bruning, from The Hunger Project, accentuated why this was such an important session and what the aim and purpose were of the session. The organisers of this meeting want to transform the current top-down development paradigm.Firstly, it was important to define the concept of Community-Led Development which resulted in the following working definition: working together to create and achieve locally owned visions and goals.

During the presentation the following highlights and insight came forward:

  • The Cynefin framework is a conceptual framework used to aid decision-making. It helps to identify how to perceive situations and make sense of own and other people’s behaviour. It helps in pursuing systems change.
  • In ending poverty, we can only be ‘sidekicks’, see more in the sidekick manifesto!
  • (New) mental models are needed:
    1) mutuality – built on humility, respect and available assets. Value what is there!
    2) power of the collective – for which relationships are fundamental.
  • Points which came up in the discussion: Who is ‘we’? Who sets the agenda? What is ‘the community’? Who is responsible? Who is reporting? Who are the stakeholders?
  • An important aspect of the session was to raise these questions and not to just assume these sort of ideas.

Let’s share some love
After various volunteers shared cases from their own experience such as World Design Capital, Nourish Project, GetH2O and Icarus Meets The Moon (see the full recap to learn more!), the participants split up in subgroups. During this part of the session, positive experiences were shared as well as the best fuck-ups! They exchanged methods and tools, terms and words, dilemmas, research, and action and interaction. A few keywords that came back during these discussions were active listening, demand-driven, trust, and vulnerability.

An affair to remember?
Yes, indeed! The wish was expressed to continue with this affair. Mainly because of the nice and safe atmosphere. Ideas and work forms for the following sessions were suggested:

  • Collection of dilemma’s and best practices/ cases – with feedback loops.
  • How to involve the ‘donor community’ and transform the way in which funding is given.
  • The importance of this thinking for ‘us’ or for ‘them’.
  • Subgroups / working groups to be formed.
  • More unlikely allies should attend.
  • Hold a similar session at the same time in some of the countries we work in (for example Kenya where Lisananne (Proportion) will be in April).
  • Send out a short survey for feedback and more suggestions

Stick around to stay informed about the next session on April 17 (again a Friday afternoon!). Besides, we invite you to jointly shape the agenda by filling out the upcoming survey. Last but not least, spread the word! In other words, bring a date to the next session …


Additional information:

  • Read the full recap here, including the PowerPoint presentation of Evelijne Bruning
  • A global movement for Community-Led Development already exists, with 64 members, and a range of national chapters. Go to https://communityleddev.org/ for more information!

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