Photo: Paul Wilson

Communities of place


The aim is to develop a means for a community to situate or contextualise themselves in relation to the place they consider to be significant, encourage a deep exploration of the varied uses or range of possible relationships that might be possible - both to themselves and to others - to acknowledge the multifaceted opportunities and values that are present in that place.



Large sheets of paper and markers, or a printer or photocopy machine to produce the templates, ideally at a large format so that participants can work collaboratively on the same tool.

Access to flat surfaces such as tables, indoors or outside. 



1. Identify a place that has is used or has value for a range of different groups or communities, and develop a simple visual tool that encourages storytelling around community members' relationships to the other people who use it. For example, draw the place and represent the different groups that use it. Use speech bubbles to capture stories and experiences, and thought bubbles to capture thoughts and feelings. Other icons can be developed to represent other types of connections between the groups - 1h of preparation

2. Introduce the tool to the participants : explain that it will help show that feelings of community can be varied and might relate to specific values, uses or attachments in or around a place - 10 min

3. Present different definitions of community. For each one, discuss what they highlight about how communities can feel connected to certain places. Encourage participants to visualise these different connections to place, and to write or draw the kinds of attachments that might exist between the groups represented on the tool and the place. The facilitator can offer to lead this activity or share the role with other participants who record the comments of others in the group - 10 min for each definition of community

4. Discuss how different groups use or value the place, and whether their various needs are being met. Encourage participants to reflect on the different needs and expectations of other communities connected to the place, and whether these might be common to different groups - 30 min

5. End the activity by reflecting on how communities could work together and address any common challenges or to share skills, for example. Discuss a plan or any actions that might be a useful next step in order to do so - 20 min