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frog Voices

Community Building in Translation With frog’s Collective Action Toolkit

The Collective Action Toolkit (CAT) Continues To Be Translated Around the World

A frog work session: bringing people together around a common goal.

Every language is a world,” wrote Franco-American essayist and critic, George Steiner. “Without translation, we would inhabit parishes bordering on silence.”

This mindset — of giving voice — underpins frog’s Collective Action Toolkit (CAT), our open-source aid for community activism. The CAT was made to be shared, translated, and to give rise to debate all around the world. A decade on, freshly transcribed into the Hungarian and Turkish languages by community members, it’s still doing just that.

Let’s take a brief look back at the CAT’s last ten years — and explore why it’s proving to be such a useful and enduring way of facilitating group discussion.

Empowering Communities with Design Thinking

Evolving out of frog’s 2011 and 2012 fieldwork in Kenya, Ethiopia and Bangladesh with the Nike Foundation, the toolkit was a response to the need for a universal framework that empowers communities of all shapes and sizes to find and design solutions to any problem, any time.

The CAT has been a go-to resource for numerous projects since — including as part of frog’s citizen-strengthening work with the pointB Design Thinking Centre for Community Engagement, a community incubator in Myanmar.

What is the CAT?

The CAT is comprised of activities and methods that enable groups of people anywhere to organize, collaborate and create solutions for problems affecting their community. The activities are flexible, dynamic, group-oriented and non-linear — and they can be used again and again.

How does the CAT work?

With simple vocabulary and concrete insights into how to build a team, carry out research and develop solutions, the CAT distils design thinking down to essential building blocks. The result is a stand-alone resource designed to lead anyone, anywhere through the problem-solving process, to any problem.

Rather than providing a step-by-step list, the CAT reflects the dynamic nature of problem-solving with a 72-page non-linear booklet of activities, each of which ends with a return to the project’s core focus: helping users maintain clear goals and make change happen.

What can the CAT be used for?

The CAT helps close the gap between innovation and implementation by applying a pragmatic and measurable lens to achieving goals.

The CAT is particularly useful for:

  • Goal setting
  • Ideation and clarification
  • Achieving goals as a group

In the words of frog’s Executive Design Director and Global Sustainability Lead, Kara Pecknold:

“What I love about the CAT is that it was designed intentionally to be an inclusive toolkit: available for anyone through easy instructions, low-tech tools and community-led visions where change and impact can go from ideas to action.”

If you’re interested in trying it yourself, have a read of our Quick Start Guide.

Finding the (Creative) Common Ground

Designed with a Creative Commons license, the CAT can be freely downloaded, shared, and built upon (non-commercially). As a result, in the ten years since its creation, the CAT has empowered change agents of every age and ethnicity from Malawi to Milwaukee. It continues to be among our most popular resources, with nearly 50,000 visits, and availability in English, French, Spanish, German and Chinese — and soon Turkish and Hungarian.

If “every language is a world”, then the CAT is a space traveler; transcending borders to touch parishes across the universe. Here’s to finding out what the next decade will bring.

Download the Collective Action Toolkit




Thoughts on design from frogs around the world

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