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MELAssociates Networking event 7 July 2015

MELAssociates came from near and far to spend a few hours creating the values that underpin MELA on Tuesday 7 July. The focus of the meeting was developing ideas for a film of MELA’s thought leadership on the theme of cultural diversity and space. Three key themes were identified that describe our practice:

Stories: This theme represents MELA’s focus on understanding how people have thoughts about themselves as belonging or not, and thoughts and perceptions about other people as different, friendly, trustworthy etc. By understanding the stories we have about others we can begin to dispel myths, explore new ways of finding common ground, and accept our differences. MELA explores methods used by life coaches, conflict mediators, ethnographers, anthropologists, psycho-geographers, environmental psychologists and artists to support people telling their stories.

Community-building: This theme is at the heart of MELA’s promise to leave a place with new friendships, social encounters and economically-active enterprises based in partnerships and collaborations to create a deep-rooted sense of shared belonging to place. After a process of dispelling myths, community-building is created by social innovations that build on what assets, skills, resources, ideas, practices and processes local people already have and, where needed, people can be empowered to establish in the long term. MELA believes strongly in the creative impulse that cultural diversity can offer in relation to exciting colourful fusions. These fusions are already beginning to emerge in textiles, art, dance, music and food. These fusion can provide a shared sense of identity, pride, creativity, and economic livelihoods.

Co-design of public space: This theme is important in providing the backdrop for strong community relations. Public spaces are those places in the neighbourhood where people encounter each other. They could be outdoor places like parks, playgrounds, housing estates, and car boot sales, or they could be indoor places like cafes, libraries, hobbies, and leisure centres. MELA is committed to designing public spaces that work for every one’s needs, and finding ways for people with competing or conflicting needs to find ways to use public space. To ensure this is achieved, MELA works with people to collectively design the public space starting with developing the design brief, through to designing the space itself.

At the end of the event we spent about an hour filming our conversation. Thank you to Ana Godinho de Matas, MELAssociate, for filming us and who aims to have the first edit at our next meeting on 10 September. Watch this space.





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