Designers/architects as local community leaders

G’day & Chao. Greetings,

I don’t know why but the thought of ‘blogging’ or ‘writing’ on this platform was not on my mind lately. II’ve been going out in life in different branches and have not kept in mind about the ‘reflection’ process…

I wanted to talk about my current involvement with a young adult committee group in my local community, Brimbank Youth Ambassadors (BYA).

Now, just coming out of university with a worldview revolving around design and the built environment, I was flabbergasted with the notion of the authority of ‘young adults & the community.‘ In architecture school, I was told that we could be ‘designers’ or ‘architects’ who have the power of designing spaces for society to use/inhabit. BYA brought be a new perspective – a perspective that any young adult can be a ‘designer’ (beyond designing spaces) – a collaborative and interdisciplinary voice to make community better, thus improving our prospect of flourishing in local community and society.

Sidetracking a little, a little before my graduation ceremony, I have looked in community work/activities and saw BYA advertised in my local library but I didn’t apply because I thought I lacked ‘leadership’ skills like public speaking etcetera…×225.jpg

I’ve attended two meetings so far and I feel like I can breathe a little more, have my mind opened a little more and I can hear myself a little more.

Now to give you a little behind the scenes, this is a bit strange (like all things life are strange). I wanted to connect and join with an ‘interfaith/intercultural’ group with young people who want to explore this area. I contacted the number who ran this group in my suburb but told me the lack of interest caused the group to end. She then referred me to another group (young adults – still good) and I turned up to their meetings.

I am trying to say that I would not have the courage to sign up for this in the first place without the chat I had with the ‘Youths Officer.’ (no online form, no interview/CV hand-in I had to do). Amazingly, I thought this would be the opportunity for me to grow – I am still working at my local council. Being involved with this BYA group means I get to witness and experience the processes, principles and structures of ‘local government.’

What is BYA?
Group of young people in Brimbank who have a voice, who cares, who wants change in community!

Keywords/phrases I’m picking up…

^ Brainstorming session with my group:
1. From our experience, answer: Why should we give a voice to young people in Brimbank?

I forgot exactly what I wrote but it had something to do with valuing multiculturalism, having a space to talk about personal/social issues in community and social justice.

2. Categorised notes under umbrella headings/themes: 

^ Cleaned up the brainstorming & notes to form a model that BYA can implement and follow as our guiding principles when we get out there and make change!
Something interesting I found when we were sharing our ideas and writing them down was the ‘kind’ of language we used to describe it. It wasn’t much about the BIG words like accountability, equity or agency, it was the VERBS:
– provide
– facilitate
– advocate
– ensure
– prevent
– be…
This is still new to be but it sounds like activism… local politics… 

How can this be implemented in my alternative architecture career?

At university, we looked at big projects. We took them on on a large/top down approach – I mean architecture/design industry knowledge and then pushing down to micro scale. 

Working with local community with ‘young adult’ issues made me think that the role of architect/designers should start from a manageable and smaller range- starting from our family, neighbours, local community then engage outwards to our bigger and broader society. What do you think?

I want people to understand the language we are speaking – so shouldn’t we engage the community with issues we CARE about first – personal-community-level-understanding and advocacy and not push design solutions that are too TECHNICAL to understand. 

Next steps…

I don’t have a plan of how long I will stay with the BYA group but I think I will stay with them in 2018 too. Maybe I can touch on ‘environmental/climate change’ issues young adults can be involved in (social media strategies/events) or… broaden out of architecture and work with themes of social issues of cultural identity and expression, mental wellbeing …

i’ll remind myself to write soon,

see you in december.