Design with Dialogue starts each new year with proposals for the upcoming sessions, and we aim for both intentional impacts and resonant emergence. Rather than planning a series of programs, we set themes and look for opportunities to engage those themes with interested hosts or presenters. A recurring and critical inquiry, both intentional and emergent, is that of a peaceful future in Canada, North America and our relationships with the world.
Our January DwD convened a group for a conversational dinner to explore together the possibility of policies and engagements for peace in Canada. The intent was to start a continuing dialogue across viewpoints and cultures grounded in the unique Canadian experience and expression of “peace, order, and good government.” Rather than moving toward activism, the opportunity was held for discourse and perspectives that might promote peaceful relations to our governments and colleagues.
We started with several initial inquiries, that might continue throughout the year as recurrent themes:
Why isn’t there a robust peace movement in Canada? Given Canada’s longest participation in wartime in its history (Following Afghanistan, we are in Ukraine in the NATO build-up against Russia) – Why are we complacent? How do we wake up to the moment and realize the societal costs of these engagements?
The Doomsday Clock is set to the closest to midnight since the 1950’s nuclear arms race. There’s a good chance it will go closer in 2017 given the promised increase in nuclear weapons support by US presidents Trump and Obama. How might we live with and communicate about this symbol in our civic lives?
What ought to be our priorities for peace making in this era? How might we FIND peace?
Can we ecologize Toronto’s green lands and watersheds? Can we enhance access and inclusion of cultural uses of our parks, common places and spaces? How might we recover, restore, reimagine or rewild Toronto’s public lands?
Toronto’s urban planning team has been comprehensively revising its downtown planning – the DwD engagement held a session to cocreate citizen proposals for the Toronto Parks and Public Realm Plan as part of TOcore: Planning Downtown.
Unify Toronto Dialogues held its October session with the TOCore team, voicing indigenous perspectives on decolonizing the common lands and stewarding ecological restoration. Following a presentation on the city’s regional public lands plan, over a dozen indigenous community members spoke up with visions and concerns for:
Restoring the native flora ecologies and balance of the Humber and Ontario shoreline waters
Opening up the ravines and public open space to urban farming and renewing healthy soils
Restoring and enabling the fish ecologies of Ontario, a lake that once teemed with indigenous freshwater fish
Ensuring indigenous access to land for ceremony, fire circles, and councils.
The live sketch (thanks Patricia) shows one of the maps of discussion and questions raised by particpants during this session.
Aleco and Maria shared their work from the Demoscopio project established with the mayor of the municipality Heraklion, Crete, which represents an emerging centre of civic innovation co-create and self-organized by citizen collaboration. His RSD Keynote talk is on Demoscopio Culture: How do we empower and liberate citizen’s voices in designing their own social systems?
The session started with a brief story about the Demoscopio and discussion of the distinctions of the Agora, the Arena, and the Lab. The dialogue shifted to our communities as committed stakeholders in the co-creation of place-based democratic centres for critical and creative citizen engagement. Further questions were explored relevant to the RSD keynote, including:
How might the Demoscopio paradigm inspire strongly-centred democratic [r]evolutions for democratic societal evolution?
How does the Demoscopio design and culture inspire, connect, empower and liberate citizen’s voices in designing their own social systems?
What are the new narratives of cultural innovation we can all undertake to inspire flourishing, democratic communities?
Aleco and Maria explore the harvest mapping while groups developed engagement proposals.
Video presentation of the workshop made by Maria for presentation at their RSD5 keynote talk.
The workshop followed the typical Design with Dialogue process of a circle introduction and discussion, a challenge for small groups working on their preferred ideas, and a harvest and discussion with the plenary to complete the cycle.
The live sketch harvest presents some of the core ideas of the Demoscopio project discussed by Aleco and Maria. From the left, this starts with the history of social system design and the development of systems of dialogue for engaging people from all walks of life to propose better futures and address their concerns in civil discourse. Proceeding to the right of the harvest, the story shows the unfolding of the Demoscopio, a proposal to the mayor of Heraklion that has been recently developed as a dedicated civic hub, a place for continuing civic engagement through co-creation. The Demoscopio itself is an evolution of the Social Planetarium as conceived by Harold Laswell, further updated by John Warfield as the Observatorium, and evolved into the societal conference hub proposed by Christakis.
Behind Christakis and Patricia Kambitsch (Playthink, live sketching) we see at the right end of the sketch a drawing of Warfield’s Domain of Science Model is represented (crudely inscribed by Jones) showing the cycle of mutual learning and development from the Corpus (body of theory and scientific observations) to the Practice (the Arena and Agora). We are changing the Warfield proposition of this cycle in several ways, consistent with systemic design practice. Four contexts identified by place and process are defined:
Lab – A place dedicated to research and socially-safe developmental trials and evaluations
Studio – A center for creative exploration of new models and configurations of social practices a prototypes with invited particpants
Arena – A neutral place convened for invited stakeholders to engage their values, proposals, dreams, and decisions in a facilitated, committed context
Agora – A public, accessible open domain available for all interested citizens to encounter and potentially engage in dialogue and “listen toward understanding.”
The cycle of learning is mutually constructed between the scientific base developed in the Lab and developed and published in the Corpus. Trials, experiments and prototypes of co-creation with invited particpants are held in a Studio setting. Social design work, such as the DwD community of practice, can be developed in the Studio setting in a safe-to-fail environment. The Studio setting is what we might typically think of with the government or social innovation “labs.” In a social science sense, we would reserve the Lab as relevant to a dedicated environment for research and service design by core teams. A university laboratory is not usually a setting for stakeholder co-creation. The design studio setting is a more appropriate fit for creative engagements.
Co-Creating New Demospheres
Each group formed a proposal for convening dialogue engagements based on the DOSM / Lab -> Arena cycle. Several cases are shown, based on the emergent concerns identified in the opening dialogue (essentially, responding to “why are you here for this workshop?”)
Stephen, Goran and Peter Pennefather drew up a model for healthcare organizations, titled “How to Care for Health.” Starting in a Lab (e.g. St. Mike’s Hospital) which is developing competencies, managing risk, focused on internal development. The Studio context (OCAD is shown) enables co-creation of prototypes and design for emergence of new capacities. The Arena(s) are defined as spaces for community health partnership, wherein power and systemic relationships can be reconfigured to support civic dialogue. The Agoras are conceived of as spaces for patient engagement.
Professor Czeslaw Mesjazc (visiting for RSD5 from UEK, Krakow) holds up their group’s model which Dee narrates as a model for democratic dialogue dealing with significant societal issues, such as the local stewardship of a shared future in the Anthropocene (whether “good” per B. Lomborg, or a “bad” Anthropocene per Clive Hamilton). The Lab is viewed as the expert-led context, researching futures and bridging to the Studio with the question: How do we relate between expert knowledges and indigenous wisdom? From Studio to Arena, they ask “how do we make a truly democratic dialogue” and from Arena to Agora, How might environmental stewardship be made relevant to the people?”
Three other groups developed DOSM models such as Peter Rose’s group above, focusing on democratic practices in society and the failure of electoral process to fully represent citizen choices.
Alexander “Aleco” Christakishas 40 years experience in developing and testing methods for engaging stakeholders in productive dialogue. In the 1960’s he consulted with Constantinos Doxiadis on the development of Ekistics, the science of settlements, and later conferred with Hasan Özbekhan to advance a methodology for social systems design, associated with the prospectus of the Club of Rome. This process became Interactive Management (as developed with John Warfield) and Structured Dialogic Design.
Aleco is the author of over 100 papers on dialogic design science, stakeholder participation, including How People Harness their Collective Wisdom and Power to Create the Future. He is founder of the Institute for 21st Century Agoras and past President of the International Society for the Systems Sciences (2002). He is member of the Board of the Americans for Indian Opportunity (AIO), Advisor to the AIO and a advisor to the Ambassador’s leadership program for engaging tribal leaders from the USA and internationally. He travels across the globe to facilitate structured dialogues and promote the science of dialogic design.
How might Youth Spaces in the education system support student goals and aspirations?
What can we do better having learned from observing decades of Toronto’s alternative schools?
How might we redesign an educational system that better serves all students and families in the city?
A recent student project in Strategic Foresight & Innovation proposed a system design for new modes of learning for disadvantaged youth in the GTA. They presented their altSPACES study as a visual story of the social system, with a participatory design dialogue to engage further into these possibilities.
Aday Sami-Oringbe and Jade Lee Hoy represented the altSPACES team, from OCADU’s Strategic Foresight and Innovation (SFI) program.
Ayomide fondly known as Aday is a designer and engineer with a commitment to user-centered design and flair for project development. Her mission is to inspire growth using design principles. Aday is currently completing her MDes in the SFI program. Prior to SFI, Aday crafted her particular expertise in liaising with multiple Project Managers and project teams, managing multimedia projects, and contributing to the design of the web and print media components.
Jade Lee Hoy is a curious wanderer whose cross-sectoral and international experiences allow for a unique creative perspective. Her work often manifests itself through the creation of spaces, whether it be public space, the creation of a new arts centre, or large scale space activations. She is an active advocate for the power of arts and culture and believes in its ability to make change. She is passionate about building meaningful and innovative partnerships across sectors and cultures. Jade has worked on large scale projects such as the Pan Am Path, Manifesto Community Projects and Festival, and the City of Toronto’s Cultural Hot Spot. Current projects include Dais (new Bell Media film hub), Intent city (summer works festival), and the Lowline (worlds first underground park).
What’s the potential for Design with Dialogue as a true Community of Inquiry? How could we all co-create this together this year?
The first DwD of 2016 was convened by Peter Jones (dialogue) and Patricia Kambitsch (visual), held with a group of 20 new and continuing participants drawn to the shared inquiry into the possibility of community. The session was guided by several questions about the meaning of and stake in community.
The dialogue opened with acknowledgement and mapping of the communities we participate in, as shown in the sketched map, people placed notes in the spaces for Business, Religion, Regional, Neighborhood, Health & Fitness, Arts, Civic, Academic, and new communities such as “Value” and “Place”. Discussion in the circle revealed the differences in views of community and the level of engagement that counts to be considered a “community.”
The dialogue dived into the meaning of the Design with Dialogue community to its ongoing stakeholders. DwD has evolved from 2008 to today into a deeply connected, ongoing Community of Practice for learning and facilitating with tools for social and organizational transformation. Our central question for the evening was essentially, who are we a community and why are we? Do we only support and engage with these communities outside of DwD, or is there a centre of life and practice here, a community that continues in its own purpose, even if undeclared by most of us?
What’s the potential for Design with Dialogue as a true Community of Inquiry?
A visual mapping of the dialogue was sketched live during the conversation, as people responded to the question of community as:
Place for the power of dialogue
Bringing groups (stakeholders) in to DwD to dialogue on an issue
Finding meaning in discourse
Seeds for new stories
Getting unstuck, and “dialogue as therapy”
Listening beyond these walls
Developing a common language and different perspectives
The group inquiry process adapted Peter Block’s six conversations on community.Variations of the questions asked each particpants to inquire and share their experience with:
What’s your story? What’s your commitment to the group or its purpose?
What gift do you bring? How do you lead or form the community?
What have you been unwilling to commit to?
What refusal have you withheld in your community?
These expressions were shared in the whole group and mapped (to the right) in the mural.
The final process developed a core set of responsibilities that lend group wisdom toward the DwD 2016 plan for co-creation and community engagement.
Together we the potential to engage and influence thinking and action in the crucial concerns of our time. Given this potential, how might we most effectively contribute to the civic issues and policy thinking in our larger communities?
Design with Dialogue (DwD) is an open Toronto-based community of practice for learning and developing co-creation practices for community and organizational transformation. We hold dialogues as a space for shared inquiries that welcome all viewpoints.
DwD has the ultimate purpose of facilitating change and meaningful action in our organizations, communities, collaborative projects and as individuals. We learn and play together through participatory design, strategic dialogue, creative arts and emerging facilitation methods.
DwD is coordinated by: PETER JONES
OCAD University Strategic Foresight & Innovation, Managing partner at Redesign Network
With stewardship from Stephen Sillett and support from OCADU and community leaders.