Monthly Archives: October 2012

From Engagement to Empowerment

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Citizens as Co-creators of Community Services

New forms of community initiative are emerging as people take charge of social services once expected of government.
What are the opportunities arising in the increasing distance between community needs and what governments can provide? How might we design and organize to befriend this trend?

Governments as we know them are transforming, budgets and infrastructures are tapped out while citizens demand more than agencies can support. Social contracts are breaking down across North America as governments go broke, outsource and privatize. Citizens will need to organize to compensate and get their community needs met. 
How will we close the gap between what governments can provide and the social services that vibrant citizens and communities require? We can learn from the many small-scale community-led projects around the world where people are leading the way – to make, plant, harvest, heal, build, and teach collectively. At some point these collective actions become organized services that serve more needs across the community. 
What tools or infrastructure can governments provide to empower citizens to take leadership of the services they need? What role can citizens play in improving the services we use? What community-led initiatives are emerging in our dense urban enclaves? How might this practice unfold in Ontario or Toronto? 
About 27 people participated in the session, convened as a series of dialogues from an opening circle to small group idea design sessions. Thanks to Patricia Kambitsch of playthink again for the visual reflection, sketched live during the whole group dialogues.

Five sets of proposals were generated by the small groups, each with a sketch or scenario mapped to the following questions:
  1.     What personal or community need does this service address?
  2.     How might this service involve the community to deliver maximum value at minimum cost?
  3.     What, tools, resources or incentives would community members need to help them initiate and implement this service?
  4.     What support could government provide to kickstart or sustain this service?
The five concepts generated by the groups were cooperative service led by community participants:
  1. Community skill library exchange
  2. Senior citizen buddy system (a kind of circle of care concept)
  3. The community wiki garden (This one is actually happening now)
  4. Community time bank
  5. Incentives for community participation

Related News:

Canada Economic Growth Won’t Match Demand For Services
Anti-austerity protests in Spain and Portugal
City of Toronto Workers Destroy Free Community Food Garden Amid Growing Food Crisis


Friends of Dufferin Grove Park
Transition Toronto
The Circle Movement
Yellow Springs Community Solutions
Ezio Manzini on Creative Communities


Peter Jones is a professor in the Strategic Foresight and Innovation MDes program at OCAD University and senior fellow of the Strategic Innovation Lab. Peter is founder of Redesign, a strategic innovation research company. Redesign conducts ethnographic and design research to guide innovations for professional practice, clinical and healthcare services, and information work. His research explores emerging social and service practices in publishing, science, and healthcare – his Rosenfeld Media book on healthcare service design, Design for Care is expected early 2013. Peter blogs at Design Dialogues and tweets @redesign.

Greg Judelman is a co-founder of Design with Dialogue and is a facilitator, designer and innovation consultant based in Toronto. Through his firm The Moment, he works with the conceptualization and facilitation of collaborative design workshops and innovation processes for organizational and community transformation. From 2006-2011 he was a senior designer at the globally recognized Bruce Mau Design, where he led creative teams on identity, web, experience and strategy projects for clients ranging from not-for-profits to universities to public associations to multinational corporations.

Homo Ludens – The Playing Body

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An exploration of our physical relationship to media technology

October’s DwD session was hosted by Antje Budde of the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studiesat the University of Toronto, affiliated with and inspired by the exhibition “SPLICE: At the Intersection of Art and Medicine” curated by KMDI Fellow and international artist Nina Czegledy.









Digital technology has a drastic impact on our lives and the way we communicate with each other. This has strong implications for how we engage our bodies in our communication, especially now that we are in constant contact with mobile computing devices. Through a series of live and mediatized physical exercises facilitated by theatre performers, this workshop will explore the role that our physical bodies play in this shifting technological context. 

Do we have to fear new developments or can we courageously embrace them? How can we maintain control over our bodies and body images? Playfulness and a healthy dose of doubt are a perfect mix to keep an empowering distance between us and the at times overwhelming demands of the multitude of devices now attached to our bodies and minds.

The workshop was created by the Digital Dramaturgy Lab (Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at UofT) and SLICE. The session will be conducted in collaboration with graduate students from UofT, York University and emerging local artists from Pandemic Theatre in Toronto, including: Art Babayants, Aidan Dahlin Nolan, Douglas Hamilton, Myrto Komarianous, Kat Letwin, Montgomery Martin, Tara Ostiguy, and Michael Reinhardt. 
Opening dialogue with roughly 50 participants inviting performance and participation.
One group improvised by performing and recording soundscapes (of city, farm, office, factory) with found materials. In the auditorium, the second half of the group built human shape tableaux to structure these same settings,
Presentation of the soundscape and human shape video mix, followed with inquiry and dialogue into the experience.


Antje Budde, a graduate from Humboldt-University, Berlin and the Central Academy of Drama, Beijing, is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Drama, Theatre and Performance Studies at the University of Toronto. She is currently in the process of establishing the Digital Dramaturgy Lab in association with her home department and Knowledge Media Design Institute (KMDI). Her upcoming experimental performance piece “Artaud’s Cage” is investigating the possibilities and challenges of audio-visual motion tracking technology in live performance and will be presented as part of the conference “The Future of Cage: Credo” which will take place at the end of October 2012 in Toronto.