What does thrive really mean?

Back again for more week notes….

Really pleased to see our Climate Assembly getting up and running with Demsoc as our delivery partner. We had a big milestone this week with our participants being finalised which is brilliant and makes it all very real. Or rather virtual as we are planning to run the assembly online for obvious reasons. This has meant the team doing a huge amount with respect to onboarding and preparation to make sure that our participants are comfortable with this environment before we get going.

This work was commissioned before I joined but I have been working with the team on shaping the questions which we have now settled as:

  • How can we in Adur and Worthing collectively tackle climate change and support our places to thrive?
  • What does this mean for the way we live and for our local environment?”

The concept of ‘thrive’ links to our platforms approach and is an idea and question I have always been drawn to – and after talking about abundance last week it’s been on my mind as being part of what it means to thrive – having enough so that you can relax and think about what you want to do rather than having to constantly respond and manage scarcity. The link to collective action is hopefully a prompt to look at abundance in terms of participation and connection – but we will need to see what the participants make of it.

This work with the climate assembly is our first foray into deliberative democracy and I know we will learn a huge amount from it – not the least what is needed to sustain this kind of participatory infrastructure.

Because the other thing that my new role is making me think about is infrastructure. I think about infrastructure in really practical ways as I look at our green infrastructure; our parks and open spaces but also in the the fabric of our houses in our homes and in the way in which we are ensuring things like a high streets are ready and that we have are ready for people to come back

But all of that physical infrastructure needs to be backed off by the social infrastructure that has been illuminated during Covid in the form of mutual aid groups and community participation.

The other form of infrastructure to consider is digital – something we are developing with our citizen Wifi but also needs considering in terms of placemaking if we want to make sure that our digital spaces thrive.

Moving forward I am thinking a lot about the intersections between these different infrastructure and the different roles that need to be played in order to make them work and connect. I’m also thinking a lot about the unit of place and how we make sure that we design around places that are real for people rather than administratively convenient.

There is something in here around civic space which I also want to unpack – perhaps by exploring how civic space or commons are considered in each of those infrastructure domains to see how they intersect.

Its been interesting this week to hear people’s responses to my week notes last week which have been a mix of being drawn to the idea of abundance and acknowledging the feeling of being worn thin by the last few months. I imagine this is a balance we will all be wrestling with as we go properly into the autumn.

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