WORD | Enabling

Posted on 13/04/2011

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Of late, the idea of ‘enabling’ has been infiltrating my work and thinking. While browsing for some texts in the library, I found a small and unassuming volume titled Small Change by Nabeel Hamdi, which addresses the limits of planning and ideas about urban practice. It’s another work that stresses the facilitative, deliberative and participatory aspects of planning and design practice. More importantly, the book stresses the power and positive impacts of small changes. It’s not about professional knowledge but the impact of that knowledge in creating positive environments for human development. My partner was just reading through some promotional material sent by a local authority for whom he’d developed a cultural strategy. He pointed out that the document in question was evidence that the cultural plan he prepared (with significant input and participation from the community) was not only being implemented but also providing a platform for coalescing local energies for cultural development and change. In the introduction to Small Change, Colin Ward comments that it is necessary to redefine design and planning practice as part of the process of enablement and involving ‘users’ in a process of participatory design.  Lately, this word ‘enable’ is becoming an increasingly important part of my lexicon and my ideas about practice: Ezio Manzini writes of ‘enabling solutions‘ and Chiara Camponeschi has developed The Enabling City.

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