There’s often talk, including here, of the importance of citizen involvement, mobilization, organisation, support, basically of people coming together. But we also know that inequality and divisiveness is present and growing in many places. So how can neighbourhoods bridge that gap between the current state of things and the communal goals we know are needed? Tessy Britton of Participatory City knows a thing or two (or hundreds) about doing just that and gives an excellent introduction to how organizations can design neighbourhoods for cohesion.
Building social cohesion needs people to leave the comfort of their homes, or the segmented spaces of clubs, work, services etc — to venture out into new types of shared social spaces. It needs conversation and productivity for the context and opportunity for friendship and trust to flourish between people. […]
Richard Sennett, in his book ‘Together: The Rituals, Pleasures and Politics of Cooperation’, makes the case for learning how to cooperate across our differences. He highlights that modern society has weakened cooperation through inequality, labour patterns and separation. [Emphasis mine.]
She presents us with the inclusivity principles and some of the research and analysis they have done to validate and perfect their method.
First comes the goal of overcoming previous negative experiences of prejudice. Not all exclusions are as long-lasting or systemic as others, but everyone has experienced some form of prejudice and that reduces their tolerance to social risk. Different activities entail less risk for different people.
Second comes lack of opportunities, even great organizations often have a limited number of activities one can engage in and, even if inadvertently, all are segmented in some way that excludes some people.
Third, every aspect of these events / meetings / activities needs to be designed with the intent to welcome a diversity of people in the same room.