Design for community: How participatory design process can contribute to the development of community culture The case of Oude Molen Eco village
My interest in sustainable community living led me to explore how participatory design process can contribute to the development of community culture. Thus, I spent 6 months exploring the participatory process in Oude Molen Eco village located in Cape Town. I was testing various design and collaborative methods and tools, conducted around 40 interviews with diverse entrepreneurs of the village, neighbouring communities and with other key partners. Community members became my research partners identifying their needs and challenges, coming up with ideas and co-designing solutions how to engage people in the village. Together, we prototyped a social platform with the aim to encourage participatory processes and collaboration in the community. Based on different situations, I was acting in many roles from creative investigator, facilitator and listener to observer, challenger of norms, advocate and strategist. Confronting them with my “outsider” perspective and findings, I experienced both resistance and appreciation. My experience demonstrates that the process of active participation and collaboration of the community members can lead to organizational and social change.