What do we want to change in the next version of the Community Canvas? Insights from user research

Notes from our workshop in February 2019 in NYC

These insights come from user interviews in the last few months, the Canvas 2.0 survey and a 3 day workshop the team held in NYC in February 2019. We’d LOVE to hear any feedback or reflections you have, you can leave a comment below or email us at team@community-canvas.org. This post was collectively put together by our project team: Daniel Brooks, Chris Chavez, Erin Dixon, Michel Bachman, Sascha Mombartz, Sita Magnusson and myself.

Big picture reflections

  • The current version of the Canvas feels overwhelming and intimidating, partially due to the number of themes and a lack of guidance on how to use it and where to start. In the coming version we want to both simplify the framework by making it more approachable and inviting, and at the same time provide more depth.
  • The current version assumes one singular user of the Canvas, while in reality there are many different types of users who are working on many different types of communities. We want to become more aware of this and will develop different key personae.
  • The current version does not include the variable of time: it’s the same document for any moment in a community’s lifecycle. This doesn’t represent the reality or need of building communities. We want the next version of the Canvas to address different stages and phases differently.
  • The current model assumes that communities can be planned and that most decisions can/should be made top-down by a few people in leadership. This doesn’t square up with our own experiences where communities are largely emergent in design. We also believe that there is tremendous power in a co-created process. We definitely have a bias towards co-creation. How can we include that in the model?
  • The process of people filling in the Canvas is just as important as the actual answers that people come up with. We want the Canvas to become an invitation for deep dialogue and thus help weave the relational fabric of the community.
  • We want the next version of the Canvas to become an ongoing practice, a methodology that can be used throughout the community building journey.
  • Storytelling is a powerful tool to help community builders that we have used very little till now. Providing stories how people have filled-in the Canvas and providing filled-out exemplary Canvases could be valuable (maybe 3 very different examples).
  • We sense that the current Canvas is influenced by an engineering mindset (it looks like a blueprint, it’s for community “builders”). We think this mechanical view only poorly represents the reality of nurturing human relationships. We want to explore language, narratives and forms that are more informed by nature and that are regenerative. This also affects the core term “community building”. We sense that community “gardening”or “nurturing” or “weaving” provides a more helpful reframe.
  • The Canvas isn’t inventing anything new, community building is not a new skill, rather we are helping to remember what has been part of human traditions for a very long time. We sense there is a lot we can learn from elders in this space.

Canvas specific reflections

  • Questions of power and leadership are important, but don’t have a place on the Canvas at the moment.
  • Start with Why vs Start with Who: should people and their needs/desires be at the core of the Canvas rather than (an external) purpose?
  • Questions of motivation: what actually creates value for people in communities? Why do people keep showing up? There is a need to have a clearer space for value creation.
  • Conflicts and practices to deal with them are a crucial part of communities, but there is no dedicated space to it at this point.

Do you have more Canvas-specific feedback for us? Fill in the Canvas 2.0 survey or message us at team@community-canvas.org — thank you!

Originally published at http://together.is on April 15, 2019.

Together Institute

Hi there, we are Together Institute, we exist to help people and organizations build more meaningful communities. Here is where we share what we learn and think about.

Fabian Pfortmüller

Written by

Grüezi, Swiss community builder in NYC, author of @CommunityCanvas, co-founder Together Institute, fabian@together.is www.together.is

Together Institute

Hi there, we are Together Institute, we exist to help people and organizations build more meaningful communities. Here is where we share what we learn and think about.

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