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In what ways can we innovate *with, not for* communities?

Communities become resilient from within. Some of the best ideas for improving community life – health & well-being, social interaction, safety, etc can best conceptualised by the community itself. How can we support and encourage processes which provide voice, collaboration and creative thinking within local groups? That way resulting ideas are both relevant plus have local support and motivation.

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This question is important because increasing numbers of top-down initiatives are failing communities in need, due to lack of contextual knowledge. External skills and expertise are often required – but these are more likely to make their mark if communities themselves are part of the conversation.

Check out some examples of existing solutions in the Related Inspirations field to the right of this post. (Images from Global Studio:

Evaluation results

10 evaluations so far

1. Does this concept deserve a place on the i20 agenda?

Yes – it's definitely a significant global issue requiring innovation - 90.9%

Maybe – it's important but there are other issues which deserve more attention - 9.1%

No – it's interesting but not of global significance - 0%

2. Does this concept point to innovation opportunities that i20 leaders can discuss?

It points to a range of opportunities - 100%

It points to a single opportunity - 0%

It's indeed a challenge but doesn't point to opportunities - 0%

3. Is this concept well framed?

Yes – it relevantly covers the issue to promote onwards discussion - 100%

Somewhat – though the scope is either too narrow or too wide - 0%

Not really – interesting issue but this concept doesn't really invite conversation - 0%


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Have you heard of the work of a Brazilian architect, urbanist, and inspired social entrepreneur named Edgard Gouveia? He co-founded a community leadership initiative in Brazil called Instituto Elos ( They have developed an great social methodology to ignite meaningful action with communities, called the Oasis Game. Their idea is to approach a community-development project as a game, and invite a diversity people to participate, from street children to regional officials and business owners. This inclusiveness attracts more people to join the game and once involved, each person is invited to bring their most unique and valuable talents to the table. Communities can better help themselves if they are inspired by an empowering entrepreneurial spirit and work collectively for the common good. This is a great tool for engaging local communities anywhere in the world and the methodology could also be used in the corporate world.

Photo of Meena Kadri

Wow Hurbertine – that sounds really cool.
Those savvy Brazilians, huh?!

Photo of Cheryl Dolabany

Hubertine, Thanks for sharing that idea, it sounds great!

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