This post was originally published at Project Citizen blog
On April 16, 2015, 40 engaged citizens came together at the Stanley Milner Public Library for an afternoon of thought-provoking discussion and Lego® Serious Play® making of what inclusive citizenship can look like in action. The group consisted of citizens with disabilities, University of Alberta Community Service-Learning students and leaders, Skills Society community support workers, as well as community members and leaders from the Edmonton Public Library.
The afternoon was kicked off by Robin Mazumder, a passionate and down-to-earth community builder dedicated to helping make Edmonton a fun, vibrant, and socially inclusive city. Robin currently serves as New Venture Support Specialist at NAIT, Instructor at MacEwan University’s Faculty of Health and Community Studies (Therapist Assistant Program), and board member with Make Something Edmonton. It is no surprise that Robin was one of Avenue Edmonton’s Top 40 under 40 in 2014, and we were thrilled to have him join us for this workshop and share his experiences and insights about how to strengthen local communities. Robin shared that, now more than ever, anyone who has a good idea to make Edmonton better can make it happen… and there is a lot of help available from the community and organizations like Make Something Edmonton and CityLab.
Throughout the day, graphic illustrator Miriam Mahnic (Community Development Officer with Alberta Culture and Tourism) took everyone’s ideas and brought them to life in a series of realtime murals.
Following Robin Mazumder’s presentation, Skills Society’s Senior Leader of Research and Social Innovation Ben Weinlick (twitter:@weinbenlick) from Think Jar Collective led our collective through a series of Lego® Serious Play® story-making activities. Based on research which shows that this kind of hands-on/minds-on learning produces a deeper, more meaningful understanding of the world and its possibilities, the Lego® Serious Play® methodology deepens the reflection process and supports an effective dialogue.
Working in groups of 4-7 people, our workshop participants brought their unique perspectives to the table and collaboratively explored issues of disability and citizenship. At each stage of the process, groups had only a few minutes to construct Lego® models that represented responses to questions like “What does a good citizen look like?”
The Lego® Serious Play® process generated productive storytelling and valuable insights. Be sure to check out the video at the top of this page for just a few highlights from the event! At the end of the afternoon, Community builder and city planner David Rauch gave several attendees with disabilities the opportunity to share their story in the new recording studio in the library’s Maker Space, to include as part of In Your Own Words (Rauch’s ongoing Oral History Project). Individuals who volunteered to participate were asked “How has having a disability made you a better person?”, “What’s the hardest part of living with a disability in Edmonton?”, and “What’s something you want people to know about living with a disability that they might not already know?”.