SE-Village @ The Peckham Settlement

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(Re)Launch of SE-Village (Sept)

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We’re really proud of two big things in September. The first was our SE-Village Showcase. The second was our team review and planning day, which gave us a perfect opportunity to take a step back and think about how things are going and where SE-Village is heading!

The showcase/launch event was really great fun and their was a real buzz to the evening. We got lots of the potential & active SE-Village projects together to celebrate and share success and progress so far. Catering was provided by one of the active groups ‘SE-Peaches catering’, which is run by Georgiana. Georgiana originally came to us because she wanted to recreate a sense of community around food which she saw her dad bring to life back in their village in Jamaica. She has started giving cooking lessons to young people, and the food she prepared for the showcase was delicious and the jerk chicken went down especially well! All the ‘SE-Villagers’ who attended got a chance to introduce themselves and share their plans in our open mic session, and the rest of the evening was spent visiting each others stalls and trying out some games and exercise sessions run by some of the groups.

 

 

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The team review day gave everyone in the office an opportunity to reflect on where we’ve got to so far and how we want to move forward. We worked together to give really constructive feedback on how we’re all working. We used storytelling to get to know each other better, as well as drawing, walking and talking exercises to help us reflect on things like teamwork and trust.

We finished up with a dreaming exercise, to help us visualise our Dream Peckham to help bring to life what SE-Village is working towards. We came up with some really positive language around our dream being bright, fresh and cheerful, as well as very warm and homely, and created some collages to put up in the office as a reminder!

We also identified some anxiety in the team because working on a completely new initiative can be a bit scary at times. There are no rules, no precedents, and in many ways no one to follow or ask about how to do things. This is especially true with SE-Village. Not only is the initiative starting completely from scratch, the long term focus on relationships and community building can feel intangible and (in the words of one team member) ‘woolly’.

So, whereas we initially expected the lack of rules and focus on relationships to be a liberating and enjoyable approach, the project team are finding it stressful and frustrating. This has resulted in the team developing security structures in the form of processes and paperwork. Definitely some framework is necessary for both the team and the SE-Villagers, who need to know what happens next. However, the team have a strong tendency to treat process guidelines as hard and fast rules, and arguably approach SE-Village as a group/club creation vehicle, rather than as community building.

This is a problem because the basic promise of SE-Village is to cut red tape, and our objective is to build community. If we add multiple forms and process hoops then there is no clear benefit to potential group leaders to start something under SE-Village rather than doing it independently.

To resolve some of these issues we have added an additional development worker to spread the workload. We have amended individual team member objectives to remove numbers and targets. There is a guideline process now, so the initial perceived lack of control has been addressed.

Counterintuitively, we may need to find a way to translate the relationship and community building aims of the project into specific and tangible targets that the team can strive for, in order to make flexibility less scary. Putting in expectations around failure, and how we address failure (ie learn!) may also be helpful.

We’re getting back together in November to review our systems and processes, as well as our values as a team.

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Written by sevillps

November 8, 2011 at 3:33 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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