Week 18 – Visit from Anastasia Crickley « Designing Dublin: Learning to Learn

Week 18 – Visit from Anastasia Crickley

We were delighted to be joined by Anastasia Crickley, Head of Applied Social Studies at NUI Maynooth this afternoon for a lively and insightful discussion on community engagement. With Anastasia’s extensive experience working on Pavee Point, the UN Committee on the Elimination of Racism and the Migrants Rights Centre of Ireland amongst others, she shed much light on effective community engagement on a small budget, being inclusive of all on a local level and ensuring long-term change; key topics for us at this stage of the project.

Regarding how we approach the community, she emphasized the importance of authenticity. Being honest with our role, our background and why it is in the community’s interests are vital. We also need to be aware of what sort of change will happen, to avoid letting the community down. Being realistic about what we can achieve in the short time-frame, Anastasia questioned what level of impact do we wish to achieve, from the short-term local activities such as a street feast to a long-term change in thinking which requires fundamental shifts to occur. By setting realistic targets, we can create conditions for further long-term change to happen.

Anastasia drew our attention to how we can measure the impact of our work, stressing the importance of needing to be able to say what we did, what worked, what didn’t. We need to justify our work, advising us to set our own multi-dimensional framework for measuring success. She advised us to build on what already exists in the community – the linchpins, the support groups, the active members of the community. It is through these groups that long-term impact can be achieved. To engage these groupings, we need to grow projects that are in their interests and also create conditions for them to own the projects.

Anastasia provided the team with much food for thought, at this critical stage of the project, where effective community engagement is critical. Her advice was thought-provoking, reassuring and very astute. In the coming weeks as we begin testing projects in the area, Anastasia’s guidance will be essential in helping us ensure we communicate authentically with the community, find project champions and ensure the project’s create long-term change in the Market’s.

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