London’s response to Covid-19 has been a story of community. It is a story told in interconnected fragments. The mobilisation of mutual aid across the city. The rapid rethinking of care and support. The explosion of collaboration between civil society and the public sector. The pandemic’s disproportionate impacts and how they reinforced existing injustices.
It is also a story underpinned by the feeling that things should never be the same. The early days of the pandemic created an environment where the organisations and institutions dedicated to serving London’s communities were learning from the future as it happened, with the option to move beyond existing ways of doing things towards something more responsive, more powerful, more equitable. In some places that invitation was gratefully accepted, in others it was overlooked.
Now, as we mark 2 years since the first lockdown, the question is where next. What have we learnt through the pandemic, and how might that learning shape how we work in and with the city’s communities for a just recovery and a better future. The London Engagement Lab is intended to hold space for that conversation.
Facilitated by a partnership of the GLA’s Community Engagement Team, International Futures Forum, Koreo, and Migrants in Culture, the Lab will be a year long inquiry into the next horizon of community engagement practice in the city and beyond.
Over the next 12 months, the project will convene groups across London’s civic landscape, with an ambition to explore and articulate a community engagement practice equitable, ambitious and dynamic enough to respond to the complex problems of the 21st Century. Using a mixture of futures methodologies, peer learning, reflection and storytelling, it will provide space for the people, organisations and networks doing this essential work to collaborate on new vision.
If you are interested in contributing to this project, which will start in May 2022 and run through to April 2023, please let us know!
Sheetal Mistry, one of our Learning Experience Managers, reflects on the evolution of community engagement in response to the pandemic, and the potential for longer-term shifts in how we approach it going forward.
Platformation is a new essay created together with Stephanie Sherman from Supervisions considering the opportunity to reimagine civil society organisational design for the 21st Century
In an ongoing collaboration with Graham Leicester and Maureen O’Hara from International Futures Forum, we explore the learning spaces necessary for personal and collective transformation in a complex, urgent world.
In March 2022 we are delighted to be launching The London Engagement Lab. Designed and delivered in partnership with the GLA’s Community Engagement Team, International Futures Forum, and Migrants in Culture, the Lab will be a year long inquiry into the next horizon of community engagement practice in the city and beyond.
As we relaunch our website with a refreshed description of our work and practice, we reflect on a two year process of reflection and learning where they have taken us as a team, and where we go next with our work.