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Collective Community Action: campaigning to put communities at the centre of urban change

11 January 2021

We are pleased to be part of, and to announce the launch of a new campaigning network, Collective Community Action.

Collective Community Action is an assembly of individuals with a shared goal – to discuss, communicate, provoke and propose the changes needed to ensure communities are at the heart of urban change for the better. We are a group of active citizens, built environment professionals, community engagement specialists, educators, consultants and social entrepreneurs striving to advance the role that communities play in shaping the city.

Community engagement as a process has social value in its own right. Inspired interactions with people from all walks of life, lead to valuable contributions, insights and outcomes. One of these outcomes is the formation of empowered communities. Additionally, meaningfully and creatively involving and empowering people and communities leads to better places and outcomes for all, including developers and investors, notwithstanding the planet.

There is no doubt that Covid has brought the issue of community strength and cohesion to the forefront of public debate. Our feeling is stronger than ever that we must work to shared values that never swerves from a deep focus on people; their needs, desires and thoughts. Engaging and including communities in decision-making processes has become more important and relevant than ever and what we do plays a significant role in this.

At Soundings + Fluid, for more than 15 years, we have had the privilege of leading consultation, engagement and urban strategies across a wide range of built environment projects across London and the UK. We have been at the forefront of best-practice participatory engagement: from early stages of spatial analysis with communities; to enabling multiple local residents and community groups, young people, educational institutions and artists to influence Local Plans and masterplans with innovative engagement tools; whilst ensuring that social sustainability and capacity building are ingrained in the process. In all cases direct community involvement in shaping places has made them better in all respects and we want to see this replicated across London and beyond.

As a network, we have a desire to see best practice become common practice. How can we achieve this?

Ahead of the 2021 London Mayoral election, we want each candidate to commit to produce a Mayoral Statement of Community Involvement (MSCI).

Our next Mayor must seize this moment to recognise and commit to the value of local knowledge and self-determination, to build thriving communities, to heal divides in the capital, and to honour and build on the central role played by local communities during the pandemic.

You can read the full manifesto here. Once you’ve read the manifesto, we hope you will support what the Collective Community Action network is looking to achieve. To support the network and be kept up to date on our activities, email me at steve@soundingsoffice.com.

We are glad to have received numerous endorsements so far, including from our clients Argent and Bywater Properties:

“20 years ago we embarked on an ambitious programme of community engagement, to inform our emerging plans for King’s Cross. The work we did then was crucial to the genesis of a nationally significant regeneration project and helped support plan-led, local decision-making, in favour of major change. Many people took a great deal of time and trouble to take part in the process; and their responses demonstrated depth and sophistication. The experience significantly improved our knowledge of the site, its surroundings and communities and contributed positively to the evolution of a place that is now widely celebrated.” – Robert Evans, Joint Managing Partner, Argent

“We feel there is a deep distrust of the development process that undermines the genuine potential for private enterprise to deliver positive change in our city. Undoubtedly that has been exacerbated by a cursory approach to proper engagement with communities. We feel it’s vital for both professional and local communities to find a productive way to collaborate which can only come from genuine and early stage dialogue, sharing learnings and perspectives on all sides, and the clear template for best practice outlined in this paper.” – Theo Michell PhD, Principal, Bywater Properties

For more information, please visit www.collectivecommunityaction.co.uk

Please lend your support and share this with your networks #ccaction #mayor4communities