During engagements with the residents of the Priority Block the open space in the centre of the block was prioritized and further discussion both formal and informal were had time and again about what the space might be used for and which needs it may meet for the community, but also what potential it had for new opportunities for the residents.
These findings were developed into a full-scale community planning workshop, hosted and facilitated by 1to1 on 24 October 2020.
Planning and Preparing the workshop
Using their experience the 1to1 and TUT team had a meeting and brainstorming session to establish an appropriate way forward and how the workshop wherein the Bertrams residents may fully participate in the panning of their space. Although to date a number of notions around the requirements and opportunities of the space existed, it was critical to begin formalising theses suggestions and prioritizing them. To this effect, the team decided that it is important to achieve a degree of consensus around what the major priorities of the entire community are. To do this, a democratic method was assumed, to provide an equal representation for each community member.
Additionally, it was considered important to allow all residents to participate in the workshop in a safe manner, that keeps with the necessary covid-19 protocol. Thus the workshop provided a 100ml bottle of hand sanitiser as well as a separate, individually sealed snack and drink. Social distancing was encouraged and masks were compulsory.
Deciding what is important
The workshop was conceived as a prioritization exercise by voting. In pairs, residents were given a set of 10 cards that depicted a theme that had arisen through previous engagements with community, involved NGOs and even the municipality. The cards were illustrated and translated to make them as accessible as possible by all. They were also laminated to make them easily cleaned using sanitiser to keep with COVID-19 protocols. Each pair was allowed time to discuss the 10 themes and select the 5 that they felt were the most important to be addressed in the space. Thereafter, they would stick their prioritized cards on a board as votes. This meant we could visually see which themes were the most important to the community collectively because each card acted as a vote.
Counting of the votes was held and the 5 major priorities for the space were decided. They were:
- Social Services
- Children’s Space
Exploring concepts collectively
The second part of the workshop required 5 groups to be formed, with one 1to1 facilitators at the helm of each group and a supporter from either ICRC or PlanAct. For this exercise Afua Wilcox the previous project manager of the Bertrams CEP was one of 1to1’s facilitators, as well as Setshaba Raseroka, Ndumiso Jako, Christine Botha and Suzette van der Walt.
The groups were formed by allowing residents to choose which of the five themes they would like to be a part of exploring. Armed with drawings of the space each facilitator and partner would host a discussion in the space with their group and start to explore what the accommodation of their theme might look like and how it might be implemented in the space. This was an informal discussion of ideas to start the conversation. It was critical the facilitators listened, took notes and drew the ideas the were raised.
Thereafter, the groups presented their ideas to the entire community in attendance and were asked questions to clarify and elaborate on their ideas.
Deciding what is most important
The collection of major priorities and ideas around their implementation was extremely helpful, but often with limited resources, it is difficult to decide where one might begin with these types of projects. As a result, a final vote was given to each resident that allowed them, now that they had heard how the different themes might be implemented, to determine which intervention was the most important to them. These votes were cast on the boards and publicly counted. The major priority for the site was to secure the space. It appeared residents were hesitant to invest in the space if they weren’t certain that it would be safe from vandalism and theft.
Who will do it?
The final part of the workshop involved the formation of a Community Space Planning Committee, which was done by individuals being nominated to join the official task team with 1to1, PlanAct, ICRC and TUT. These individuals were invited to a co-design workshop where the ideas collected would be translated into a spatial design proposal.
– Suzette van der Walt