Community 21 is a joint strategic, ‘action research’ initiative between University of Brighton and The Rural Community Council, Action in Rural Sussex. Co-directed by Nick Gant (UOB) and Teresa Gittins (AiRS) Community21 is formed as an online ‘toolbox’, social networking and data management system that facilitates community networking and engagement, information management and community led planning processes for 21st Century, sustainable communities.
The project pilots in January 2011 and evaluates the benefit and impact that the system has in augmenting both established and new practices of community led planning, it also models social enterprise, networking and sustainable development tools with a diverse range of communities across East and West Sussex and Kent, UK. The project aims to form a national platform for interconnectivity and engage positive action across the country.
The design/methodology deploys a range of digital interface and content management innovations to counteract the unhelpfully divisive, polarised and polemical language and culture of sustainable development and climate change, when presented to everyday people as a ‘crusade’ to save the world. Unperceivable, disarming and demoralising issues of global catastrophe, species extinction and planet extermination, often served up by the media are counteracted by facilitating and augmenting established community positive actions that tackle more tangible, local concerns of self-sufficiency and resilience through online software. The agile potency of technology is then utilised to unlock a strategic mechanism to scalable sustainable development on both a micro and macro level, whilst remaining meaningful and relevant to real people.
The project has recently been presented at The South east Rural Community Council Conference and The AiRS Rural futures Conference and to the then Secretary of State for Environment and Climate Change (Hilary Benn) and current Minister for Environment and Climate Change (Charles Hendry). It is engaged with a range of community and county councils and communities across the region. The project also forms the content of a paper for the Journal of Community Engagement Research, Gateways to be published in November 2010.
Project team includes: