Applying creativity and physical arts in community work education

Applying creativity and physical arts in community work education Abstract In the Masters programme in Community Work at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, students and teachers engage in interactive learning and problem-solving together. Paolo Freire showed us how learning is achieved through critical dialogue and praxis, i.e. action and reflection. Two different experimental workshops offered to both regular and visiting students, used alternative forms of dialogue and action. Through dialogues produced with words, bodily gestures, props and movements, and reflection upon action, generative themes emerged. These themes concerned ecological and social challenges faced by community workers. Students in the first workshop engaged in ‘skip diving’ with an aim of transforming skipped food into a gourmet food festive dinner, and in the second workshop students and teachers chose to create a socially relevant parade around the main street of a city borough. In both workshops artists with experiences in community participation were involved. The article discusses how arts-based workshops facilitate creation of context-sensitive tools for community workers as creative agents of change. Introduction: ‘Encountering the strange, and making a difference’ It is so important in professional community work training to meet the strange and encounter the unexpected. By doing art-inspired skip diving and making a street gallery, and walking-talking the city as in psychogeography, we saw surprising things happen before our eyes and learned a lot. Making Torgallmenningen, Bergen’s central spot, into a space for sharing stories and wasted food, made a real difference (Pedro, student, 2014). In January 2007, the first Scandinavian cross-disciplinary Masters programme in Community Work was launched in Bergen. Since then, the programme has focused on creativity as an important theoretical and practical tool for the community worker. However, to equip students with art-based tools for practical work, the teachers decided to change the curriculum. In 2014 and 2016, experimental four-day action-learning workshops were offered as part of an elective fifteen ECTS course, and regular and visiting students could sign up. The course included themes such as community art, social movements, hope and utopias, and international solidarity. The learning activities aimed to prepare students for an expanded social reality and enable them to explain how social movements and art-related activities contribute to broadening knowledge of community work, in practice and theory. Learning outcomes were acquirement of skills, knowledge and general competency, contributing to critical thinking and innovative practice and the ability to ‘work independently on practical and theoretical problems’ and to ‘use relevant methods for research and scholarly and/or artistic development work’. In achieving this, we acknowledge, as student Pedro stated above, how important it is ‘in professional community work training to meet the strange and encounter the unexpected.’ This article presents a practical outline of the two workshops and discusses impact of location and methodology on production of the material used in this article. It then presents and discusses workshop key activities; skip diving (also called dumpster diving or skip salvaging) in 2014, and a parade in 2016. In conclusion, the author suggests that experimental workshops in regular educational programmes can inspire use of more context-sensitive tools, and facilitate the development of community workers as creative agents of change. The experimental workshops The specific learning outcome for the two workshops was to obtain creative group work skills through action learning and action research (Revans, 2011; Abbott and Taylor, 2013; Gunnarsson et al. 2016; Nielsen and Nielsen, 2016). Collective action, working and learning together are pinpointed as key values in community work by Popple (2015, pp. 118–119), and are hallmarks of action learning and research. Through dance, music and playful and creative ways of solving tasks and performing together, these values can be strengthened. The workshops aimed to unpack a key concept in community work, i.e. participation, by examining how participant expertise, resources and critical consciousness could be built and mobilized through creative, bodily, and physical means (Cohen-Cruz, 2013; Conrad and Sinner, 2015; Gielen and de De Bruyne, 2011; Ledwith and Springett, 2010; Nicholson, 2005; Shaw and Meade, 2013). Creative working methods facilitated and demonstrated the necessity of cocreation and coproduction of social change. Students engaged in applied theatre, music, filming, photography, and creative writing, and did exercises, readings, seminars, and public actions together. The boxes below provide an outline of the workshops. Proposals for key activities were discussed between colleagues in the Master’s programme and suggestions were presented to the group of students for further discussion, changes, and implementation. Workshop 2014 Workshop 2016 Key activities: Skip diving and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, photo-voice and documentation through film Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Key activities: Making parade and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, community music, creative writing and psychogeography Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Workshop 2014 Workshop 2016 Key activities: Skip diving and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, photo-voice and documentation through film Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Key activities: Making parade and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, community music, creative writing and psychogeography Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Workshop 2014 Workshop 2016 Key activities: Skip diving and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, photo-voice and documentation through film Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Key activities: Making parade and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, community music, creative writing and psychogeography Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Workshop 2014 Workshop 2016 Key activities: Skip diving and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, photo-voice and documentation through film Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Key activities: Making parade and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, community music, creative writing and psychogeography Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre In workshop 2014 the fulcrum activity was skip diving as a vehicle for a critical discourse on food waste, and a transformation of thrown-away food into a gourmet meal in a ritual sharing and celebration at the farewell dinner. In workshop 2016 the fulcrum activity was to make a public parade in a Bergen borough. In line with the action learning tradition, students and staff together designed workshops that related to real world problems. The workshops addressed the shortcomings of ‘learning by doing’ (Dewey, 1916), and introduced an alternative ethic of ‘learning by responsibility’ (Revans, 2011) and reflective empathic actions in solidarity (Freire, 1995; Krznaric, 2015). The workshops demanded long hours by students and staff, including a late-night dinner. The students said that the organization of the workshops outside the University in an unusual environment furthered critical reflection and learning. The programme staff designed the workshops, and J.K.B., the first author of this article, was responsible for the course. Facilitating praxis, i.e. action and reflection, students were active in making amendments to course plans. Redesigning or negotiating plans were both means and aims of the programme. Workshop environment, ethical considerations, and methodology The workshops were located outside University facilities, in the theatre house of Apropos Theatre, where J.K.B. has vested interests as producer and part of the artistic crew, and his wife, Solvei Stoutland, is artistic director. She contributed as a teaching artist on physical ensemble work in both workshops. This article relates to experiences and materials made available through J.K.B.’s composite roles; as professor in community work, course initiator, collaborative partner in the Apropos Theatre, and experienced skip diver. These roles share common obligations; to engage in critical self-reflection, to learn from failure, accomplishment and experimentation, and to suggest improvements for better community work in the future. The arrangement and facilitation of the workshops probably benefited from all these roles and the author’s longstanding interest in social activism and community art. Overall, students, teachers, and artists evaluated the course positively, whereas there were differences of opinion about some of activities. Some students experienced physical ensemble work as challenging or a violation of private space and boundaries. The staff saw that bodily copresence and touch could be threatening and difficult for everyone to deal with, even if some welcomed the challenge. Making the learning environment both safe and challenging, while respecting personal limits and needs, became important. In dealing with this as an important issue and a welcome critique, the staff designed legitimate and alternative participation as a regular option, e.g. taking short self-selected breaks, and changing between action and observation. In the skip diving sessions, a variety of tasks to choose from was provided, that made direct contact with garbage fully optional; e.g. observing, preparing the festive meal, damage control or Facebook-activism. Students and teachers collectively agreed to establish a Facebook group to heighten awareness of food waste. The material underpinning the arguments in this article is produced through participant observation and interviews with students, staff and artists, during and after the workshops, and with community members when conducting actions in public. As a teacher, artist, and researcher, J.K.B. made participant-observation notes, conducted and transcribed interviews recorded on film by the teaching artist Raúl Capote Braña from Cuba, conducted informal and formal conversations, and walking-talking and non-verbal communication during activities (Pink, 2015). The compiled material from the workshops constituted a case study. Case studies are well suited to explore complex material that includes a diverse set of methods (George and Bennett, 2005). Participants in the workshops were Masters students from Norway, China, and Spain, and teachers/artists from Norway, Cuba, and Portugal. Data production complied with the ethics of informed consent. Students have been assigned fictional names in this article, since consent to use real names was not systematically obtained from all participants. Motivation and inspiration Motivation and inspiration for developing creative arts in the Master’s programme came from many sources. The main motivation for creating these experimental workshops came from a wish to strengthen the Paulo Freire-inspired pedagogy, by taking his ideas out into the public realm, as did his theatre companion, Augusto Boal (1995). Boal saw the use of the body as vital to achieve the reflective learning outcome described by Freire, arguing that counter-acting banking-education (one way preaching and teaching) necessitated physical engagement. The exercises used in the workshops resemble those detailed by Boal and developed in the strand of physical theatre (Boal, 1992, 2006; Callery, 2015). Further motivation and inspiration for the workshop 2016 parade came from the political street theatre developed by Dario Fo and Franca Rame (Mitchell, 2014). From the community work toolbox, inspiration came from future workshops (Jungk and Müllert, 1987), the labour movement and adult education workshops, and feminist consciousness-raising groups, which originated the slogan ‘the personal is political’ (Haug, 1999; Danielsen, 2013). The Scandinavian participatory design model from the 1970s, starting with action-research collaboration with trade unions at the workplace, represented another inspiring practice in this context (Ehn, Nilsson and Topgaard, 2014, p. 7). The pedagogical development practice was also fertilized by the international Living Lab´s thinking and doing, as types of participatory laboratories ‘ranging from market-oriented labs for user testing of new products to long-term engagements between designers and diverse groups of citizens and their concerns’ (Ehn, Nilsson and Topgaard, 2014, pp. 8–9). The latter groups could be neighbourhoods and diverse groups of people that represent marginalized or stake-holding positions, and students, as in this case. Living labs grapple with the practical doings of democracies in the making, in similar ways as does our workshops. From the field of socially engaged arts different versions of art laboratories inspiration came from community music workshops, physical ensemble work (Lecoq, 2009), ritual sharing (Barba, 1995, 2013; Watson, 2002; Turner, 2012), participatory theatre (Boal, 1995), the photo-voice method (Purcell, 2009), making parades (Van Erven, 2013), and creative writing and poetic praxis (MacKenzie, 2013). An important part of this was to immerse students, teachers, and artists into the practice of psychogeography as place-making (Popple, 2015; Coverley, 2010; Beck and Purcell, 2015; Purcell, 2012; Cresswell and Merriman, 2011; Cresswell, 2004) where socially engaged arts and community work have joint interests and shared practices. The workshops combined strategies, actions and models through a mix of community work methods, action learning and action research methods, and artistically developed methods for team-building and collective performance in public, as in ensemble work inspired by Boal, Fo, Lecoq, and Callery (Boal, 1992; Callery, 2015; Mitchell, 2014; Lecoq, 2009). Ensemble work and the exercise with bamboo sticks ‘When we had the bamboo exercise, we were totally dependent on communication without talking’, says Master’s student Marie, referring to a concrete collective bamboo exercise in the 2016 workshop. She continued to reflect upon how the physical ensemble work became a key experience in understanding how to mobilize people’s own resources in collective action for social change. First and foremost, she stated that it was ‘a lesson in how professional community workers must dive into their own repertoire of resources’ to become better guides or facilitators in change-work with others. We had to give and take. We coproduced movements through talking through our fingers. You make mistakes and you build it up again. Losing the grip on the bamboos and getting laughing kicks when we shouldn’t became good learning experiences. It felt more real and we experimented with new ways of doing things that we wouldn’t have tried without the mistakes. We were challenged and tried new things repeatedly. It was good but also a bit scary. I would never have done this without being in that workshop (Marie). Valuing ‘mistakes’ and ‘doing’ are important: the latter deal with embodied learning and action learning, in companionship, enabling key experiences in thinking and doing community work (as relational group work) differently, through concrete exercises. Another student put it this way; Working with bamboos was very inspiring. I saw a lot of bamboos in China. Everywhere. We are building houses by using bamboos and Pandas eat bamboo, but I have never thought about using them as a communication tool, in an action learning workshop, like that. I was moved, because it represents people’s relationships in a society (Jiang, student 2016). The bamboo-exercises occupied a significant position during the workshops. As part of different playful exercises, participants were introduced to bodily sensuous awareness of positions, postures and expressions in space with others, through a series of designed activities and preparations. Some exercises made us sense space in different way, e.g. acting blind, being led by a bamboo stick, crawling on the floor/ground, walking the space in different tempo and emotional states, and creating a dense crowd and dispersing by removing quickly from the central crowded spot. The explorative awareness aspect of this has a strong affinity to psychogeography as spacial awareness. The action part refers to how we prepared ourselves and the available space to make an impact. The impact came through place-making, where the space was turned to a meaningful and interesting place where togetherness, curiosity, and excitement, could emerge. The art director and teaching artist explained how participants transformed greeting routines into something special: We have done this since we were small and learned how it works. Take her hand, shake it, and tell your name. We don’t reflect about what we do, and we forget the name of the other person. To restart this process is interesting. You give them the task; walk the room, find eye contact with somebody, walk towards that person, shake hands and say your name, and walk away! We can do this for hours. Because it is so interesting to see how you can develop yourself through these encounters, and how two persons can be, in this very special moment, recognizing one and another. The bodies tune in and listen while keeping eye contact. It’s like musical sensation where you can experiment, fail, and repeat (Solvei). A small routine activity takes on a new and deeper meaning that values co-recognition and copresence. ‘Greeting someone will never be the same after this’, one student reported. Solvei also made a connection to how the community music sessions contributed in similar ways, preparing and tuning in participants for collective performances, and attaching meaning to it. As training in body-emotional awareness this worked well: the participants opened for an expanded sensuous presence, together. We were simply better prepared to perform collectively in public, as in the skip diving actions in 2014, and two years later, in making a socially relevant parade. Emerging themes – issue selection The hallmark of community work is to facilitate empowerment and critical consciousness, community capacity and social capital, issue selection, participation, and work that is relevant (Minkler, 2012). In focusing on issue selection, you should ‘identify winnable and specific targets of change that unify and build community strength’ and enhance participation by community members as ‘part of a larger strategy’. In conducting parts of the repertoire of physical ensemble work (see above), and introducing the main activities in the workshops, the project tried to facilitate an environment where the participants’ experiences, senses, and resources became activated. This echoes the advanced preparations artists subject themselves to when creating a performance with participants considered equal in terms of resources, experiences and skills. When looking at collective actions in this context, the participants transformed space into place through a series of open activities and designed preparations. Students and teachers did the same but sensed the actual space in different ways. Some of these techniques contributed to an emptying of space for established meanings and routines (Brook, 1995; Lecoq, 2009) in order to remake the space, and create strange encounters with the familiar. These processes are seen in ritual preparations and performances (Turner, 1982; Boal, 1995) and in psychogeography (Beck and Purcell, 2015). The theatre rehearsal house, where the common meals, seminars, and conversations were held, facilitated the flourishing of ideas. By doing interchanging indoor and outdoor activities (skip diving, preparing parade, psycho-geographical walking) issues emerged, that united the group in terms of shared meanings and emotions (Minkler, 2012). In the two workshops, development of common meaningful goals for our collective actions appeared. These were: to raise awareness of how to relate to each other in everyday life and in the public; be aware of urban spaces as sites of oppression and resistance; and to appreciate and acknowledge personal resources and skills in making a difference. In 2014, the skip diving activity gradually changed character. From being an action to transform garbage to gourmet food for a festive dinner, students, artists, and guest teachers, transformed the activities to something more; a public action to facilitate critical awareness and dialogues on how food waste and consumption can be connected to the emergent environmental crisis and global inequalities. Skip diving 2014: ‘What do you think about wasting food?’ Skip diving or dumpster diving has become a ‘popular form of modern salvaging of waste’ in the Global north (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumpster_diving), addressing important global concerns. As a group activity combined with preparation and eating of a common meal, the project’s joint activities in 2014 were fertile ground for dialogue around environmental issues combining local actions and global issues. When skip diving was introduced to staff, students, and teachers as the key workshop activity, reactions ranged from hesitation to curiosity. Some students were strangers to the idea of digging for food in garbage. One voiced a common concern that ‘It could be dangerous and probably illegal’, hinting towards both unhealthy consumption and violation of private property rights. The staff addressed the first objection by ensuring that it was done with care, avoiding taking meat, or fish or other products that had stayed too long in the dumpster bins or been exposed to heat. The diving, thus, had to be prepared – choosing bins unexposed to direct sunlight, and making quality control procedures. The workshop was held in September when the temperature is a liability, and the weather changes from ‘Indian summer’ to rainy storms in half a day. In Norway, skip diving is best done in the cold season, or as soon as possible after food disposal. Finding high quality food in bins triggered reflections. Students, teachers, and artists soon became comfortable with the activity. An emerging issue was overcoming the fear of what others would think of you, related to shyness, shame and embarrassment: ‘What if someone I know sees me doing this?’, or ‘What if the people working in the supermarket approach us – and tell us to bugger off?’, as two students said. For the participants, all these worries and expectations provided food for thought, and challenged all of us to step out of our comfort zone and engage. The activity provided good opportunities to discuss ‘who's crime is the throwing away of eatable food?’ both within the workshop, and with friends and family. Occasionally participants encountered reluctant or even hostile staff – and got the chance to explain, argue, inform and sometimes slip into interesting dialogues. As such, the activity created opportunities to critically reflect upon our sense of community, consumption, and power-relations. However, a boundary situation occurred when the participants found bins closed with a locker, and the objection towards the legal status of the activity was animated: What now? Is it time to break the law? And call upon civil disobedience and engage in acts of resistance? The legal argument was of course important: ‘If the garbage bin is open in a widely available place, there is probably nothing wrong with removing items from it. But if you need to enter clearly marked private spots, break up a locker, or get into someone else’s property, dumpster diving in such places is illegal.’1 In 2014, J.K.B. consulted Judge Noss, who confirmed that thrown-away food should be regarded as de-relinquished goods, and not illegal to acquire. If, however, the bins were locked, acquiring was a violation of private property rights. The moral argument (in face of social injustice and food waste) could, however, be a trump in court, she said. So, the workshop participants dived for food, but didn't break the law or any locker. Nonetheless, an important dialogue took place on law and democracy, and on the nature of private property rights in terms of formal law, general (in)justice, and local and global inequalities. Due to shop routines, skip divers were active on afternoons, Monday to Thursday, after the regular workshop hours. Students, artists and teachers took part as much as they could, considering other duties and obligations, and the teaching artists Braña from Cuba and Marquez from Portugal documented the activities on film and photo-voice. Several themes for critical dialogues emerged about the consumer society: the throwing away of edible food, linked to the politics of putting ‘safe’ expiring dates on products to keep production high, a possible critique of capitalism; and the hard work of food production by farmers worldwide whose products ended up in Bergen’s dumpster bins. A turning point? During the second day of skip diving something happened in the group, voiced by a student: It was interesting because we felt confident. We talked about it from the beginning and we did the skip diving in the evenings. It was not a bad experience – on the contrary! We didn’t have much time to plan, but we did it! We went to some supermarkets and ‘dived’ into the dumpster bins. After the second action, we put the food on the ground and it was like a picture: one that you could have on the wall, like those old still-life pictures. It was so powerful! And it pushed us to think about how it relates to community work and critical consciousness in the group. I think we did something great in those few days (Pedro). From this first realization of the power of a photo an idea of enlarging the issue grew. What about a public exhibition in a central place in Bergen – combined with dialogues with the public around food-waist and consumerism? What about Facebook-activism? What about a documentary film on skip diving? Diverse decisions were suddenly made within an enthusiastic collective spirit. Photo-voice and community actions in public spaces swiftly became more than contemplative possibilities within a University setting. A lot of interesting things came out of the ideas and emerging plans, and in the early afternoon of the third day an exhibition of food-waste was set up at the main city square, Torgallmenningen. Students and teachers collectively agreed to establish a Facebook group to heighten awareness of food waste. The Internet community group, named DumpsterArt-Project, with elements of the photo-voice method for voicing peoples' concerns through photos and videos (Purcell, 2009), became an integral part of the exhibition as an expanded place-event.2 All students and teachers/artists participating in the exhibition/street-gallery had prediscussed how to present the project to local people. In dialogue with the public, the students Siri and Catrine presented the action in this way: We have done dumpster diving in the containers behind the supermarkets in Bergen. We bring it here. What do you think about wasting the food? This is about how to use the arts in community work, and we made this exhibition and want to document people's reactions. We would like to take a picture of you and if you agree you will become part of the artwork – on Facebook (Siri). We want you to present a feeling concerning the wasted food. If you don’t know what to say, you don’t have to say a thing. It is just your picture (Catrine). Besides filming photos and video-shots, people from all walks of life also vocally expressed their concerns. A woman from Bergen simply stated that we all throw too much, and an immigrant woman from Poland reacted with horror: ‘It is not even sad. It is shocking, unbelievable!’ A male refugee from Syria simply stated that his family now ‘lives on the borders between Turkey and Syria, and Jordan, and needs food’. A young man from Bergen says that, luckily, we have the City Mission, who ‘take in groceries like this and helps the poor’. Finally, a man from Uganda, points to another compelling concern: Look at this sweet potato! It is disrespectful to throw it away and against human rights. We only cook food we are going to eat. And we recycle. In Norway, you recycle paper, plastic, and bottles. Why don’t you recycle food? In a long conversation with the students, the participants touched upon a range of action learning benefits in bringing skip diving into an academic course on community work. First, the activity was recognized as an interest-driven fieldwork technique that made you take specific perspectives on the environment and people encountered. Then, the value of experiencing a neighbourhood from the perspective of someone looking for wasted goods like a beggar or poor person making the best of their situation, or from a spectator point of view as in the street exhibition action, was recognized as important. By walking in the imagined footsteps of a poor or desperate person, the participants staged encounters that confronted and begged for response. This gave way to new approaches and encounters with the environment. By doing this, the workshops used peripheral vision and elements from psychogeography; where wandering the streets with a loose aim (Coverley, 2010; Solnit, 2001; Debord, 1983) makes you realize unexpected traits of both the familiar and the strange. By performing such actions the space transforms into a specific site; a place. For participants and people encountered this was an example of genuine place-making, i.e. making the space into a site of meaningful exchange, worthy of remembrance. This resonates with an understanding of the concept ‘place-event’ (Pink, 2015) where ‘thrown-togetherness’ adds value to participants’ life projects or ‘sense of place’ through movements (Cresswell, 2004; Cresswell and Merriman, 2011) and ‘sense of community’ through engagement (Day, 2006). This project exemplified environmental affordance and ‘learning in context’, in ways similar to those Sudmann explores in her article on friluftsliv and horses, and to explorations by Fallov and Jørgensen in their article on urban spaces as ‘learning machines’ (McFarlane, 2011), both in this issue. By choosing skip diving as a social action the workshop accomplished different tasks and reached both planned and unintended goals. Participants dealt with an issue that aroused both enthusiasm and concern, the task was challenging but simple in terms of explanation and doing, and the emerging issue united group members and connected them to a wider community in the spirit of dialogue, joint consciousness raising, and pursuing relevant community actions (Minkler, 2012). Making parade 2016 In 2016 teachers and students agreed to make a friendly intervention or a parade at Nesttun, a refashioned Bergen borough. The lack of activity in the (old) outdoor market square had become obviously problematic after most commercial activities had moved into the shopping mall, and teachers and students considered that a friendly parade would highlight this, and provide ways of engaging residents to voice their own concerns on the matter. Van Erven (2016) defines parades, in line with some psychogeography practices, as groups of people ‘moving through public space with an explicit intention: to draw attention to a particular political or social issue, to commemorate, to celebrate, to reclaim an area, or to fill a place with moveable collectively created artistic expressions’. In preparing for the parade in the 2016 workshop a mix between physical ensemble work, community music, and creative writing sessions, were facilitated. The teachers also invited all participants (students, teachers, and artists) to a precourse evening where we discussed and amended the plan, and shared ideas on the purpose of the parade. The centre of Nesttun, a borough in Bergen, was chosen because several participants knew the area, and the distance from the workshop location was relatively short. Agreeing upon the purpose of the parade was trickier; a distinct political action would not be feasible for the group. Eventually we settled on making a friendly ‘intervention’ that could invite residents and users of the area to engage in a dialogue around problems and prospects of the space and place. Preparation included a field-trip and walk in Nesttun centre, inspired by community work psychogeography (Beck and Purcell, 2015); looking for paths, edges, nodes, and landmarks that regularly slip out of view. We ended up with three core observations inspiring the parade; the old outdoor market place was empty (needing attention), the shopping mall was busy (needing a challenge), and the new light rail (a new rhythm), all occupied paramount centrality. By walking the area and talking to people, participants sensed how different spaces were inclusive or exclusive toward different persons, and how people moved in and through the area's localities in different ways. The participants soon realized that the most populated area was inside the shopping mall, and the least human traffic was at the old outdoors market place. Talking to residents revealed sorrow about how the market place had declined and a subsequent change of temporality and rhythm. Inspired by ‘rhythmanalysis’ (Lefebvre, 2004), participants explored what happened in that space in terms of flow, sound-scape, and emerging cultural material practice. And our community musician Lars Kolstad made us listen; In making music, the most important thing is when we are not playing. That’s when we listen, to ourselves and to each other. We need to approach communication as a dance and with attendance to rhythms. That’s why the silence is so important. The silent part of our parade, as we did inside the shopping mall, was so powerful (Lars). The invited teacher of creative community writing, Berit Bareksten, gained the experience of being with a group of enthusiastic students and artists/teachers, willing to experiment and fail to reach the goal of creating a community relevant parade; The great thing was that we worked together as a group, regardless of whether we were teachers, artists or students. We made a parade together and were initially challenged and prepared by working physically and emotionally together through community theatre, music and writing exercises. (Berit). Being inspired by both the community music and physical ensemble exercises, Berit, embarked on a very productive session with the students and the other teachers/artists in making the parade work. We worked with a goal of making slogans or texts that the group could use to accompany the parade. It became: take the square back – come and have some cake! And we baked apple pies and shared, and it was all a very creative, powerful and funny. At the old market place, outdoors in rain! (Berit) The participants welcomed people who came to the square and we asked them if they could write proposals for a better Nesttun on some small apple-hearts on red cardboard. We got many good proposals, and good conversations flourished. At one moment, a man came out from where his work mates had been watching the finale of the parade – the fall of the bamboos – and he said it ‘created very good dynamics and very much joy into our workday’. As an act of reclaiming the square, however mildly, we felt connected to the subversive aspect of psychogeography that originated with the situationalists’ political art-movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s (Debord, 1983). One of the students, Irene, who lives there, stated; ‘Nesttun will never be the same again after this, ever’. Concluding remarks In our experimental workshops, one aim was to value other ways of communicating and doing, e.g. communication without talking, use of bamboo sticks and other ways of bodily coordination became central. Improvements came quickly by practicing. In developing tactile responsiveness to others, regular failures were expected. Instead of putting a negative mark on it, regular dropping of the bamboos was made into a learning opportunity. This credo, failing as a virtue, was a central leitmotif in both workshops, regularly accompanied by playful comments such as ‘Perfection is boring’, ‘That’s good, we failed’, and a lot of laughter. Through this and other playful activities, the workshops managed to build a productive atmosphere and a mindful body-awareness that made collective action both desirable and effective. Instead of being afraid of making mistakes the workshops tried to make the participants more open towards the necessities of failing as a route to exploration of teaching and learning community work. This point is important for laboratories as spheres of experimentation where failures are expected, necessary, and welcomed. The willingness to experiment and to be open to the possibilities of learning from failures is highlighted by many scholars (Dunkley and Franklin, 2017; Miller, 2015), and has been an integral feature in our workshops. This is, perhaps, the most important lesson learned in creating more context-sensitive tools for community workers, as creative agents of change; play and experiment more, and make students, artists, and teachers alike more comfortable with the art of failing and falling, together. Important to note is that FAIL is an acronym for First Attempt in Learning. Another lesson is that dialogues, even if primarily related to spoken and written languages, always and already are embodied and physical. Oral discourse, however, tends to disqualify those who do not fully master other aspects of knowing, talking, interrupting and arguing. Some may be muted and have less opportunities to affect collective achievements. Through the workshop, participants tried out different ways of dialogical interaction to promote an expanded democratic model by promoting sensuous diversity, and an anti-discriminatory practice (Dominelli, 2002; Breivik, 2005; Ledwith and Springett, 2010; Popple, 2015). But exclusion might also happen when bodily, non-verbal performances are privileged. Working with spoken and physical dialogues and practices gave participants an embodied experience of principles for exclusion and inclusion in a group, and a personal understanding of why inclusion and exclusion are tricky concepts in (everyday) life (Day, 2006). In this perspective, the arts-based workshops certainly helped in creating context-sensitive tools for (future) community workers as creative agents of both change and reflection. The challenge is to implement this insight, and to make regular community work education, at all levels, more sensuous, and experimental. Physical teaching and learning is an untapped resource in community work, which equips students with practical tools for dealing with social change. We hereby encourage our fellow community workers and socially engaged educators to take their fill from this ‘horn of plenty’. In Giesler’s (2017) opinion, applying Boal’s exercises to the practice classroom ‘heightens students’ self-awareness and awareness of the other, which, in turn, brings into sharper focus concepts such as empowerment, empathy, and social change. Jan-Kåre Breivik is a social anthropologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Oslo (2001), since 2012 professor in community work with particular responsibility for scholarly development and innovation at the Master’s programme in Community Work at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. He has also been a member of Apropos Theatre since 2006. His research interests are related to experimental learning, homelessness, social movements, disability, minority issues, and more. Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann is a physiotherapist, and social scientist, with a Ph.D. from Department of Global Health and Primary Care at the University of Bergen (2009). Her research interest is related to how people use their bodily resources to enhance their well-being and social participation. Tobba was head of the Master’s programme in Community Work 2006–2016. Acknowledgements Thanks to community work colleagues Kjell Henriksbø and Berit Bareksten, theatre partner Solvei Stoutland, community musician Lars Kolstad, artist Raúl Capote Braña (Cuba), the professors in applied theatre Stig Eriksson and Tor-Helge Allern, community art scholar Eduardo Marquez (Portugal), and the visiting students from Spain and China, and enroled Master’s students, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, from community work, applied drama, and music. The workshops could not have been made without your valuable contributions. Thanks to reviewers and editors of CDJ. Funding Western Norway University of Applied Sciences annual research grants. Footnotes 1 Translated from https://www.ung.no/oss/kriminalitet/240,808.html 2 See https://www.facebook.com/DumpsterArt-Project-687,553,091,330,889/. References Abbott , C. and Taylor , P. ( 2013 ) Action Learning in Social Work , SAGE , Los Angeles, USA . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Barba , E. ( 1995 ) The Paper Canoe: A Guide to Theatre Anthropology , Routledge , London, UK . Barba , E. ( 2013 ) In praise of fire , Performance Research , 18 , 32 – 35 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Beck , D. and Purcell , R. ( 2015 ) Everyday experience and community development practice , Radical Community Work Journal , 1 , 1 – 15 . Boal , A. ( 1992 ) Games for Actors and Non-actors , Routledge , London, UK . Boal , A. ( 1995 ) The Rainbow of Desire: The Boal Method of Theatre and Therapy , Routledge , Oxford, UK . Boal , A. ( 2006 ) The Aesthetics of the Oppressed , Routledge , Oxford, UK . Breivik , J.-K. ( 2005 ) Deaf Identities in the Making: Local Lives, Transnational Connections , Gallaudet University Press , Washington D.C., USA . Brook , P. ( 1995 ) The Empty Space: A Book About the Theatre: Deadly, Holy, Rough, Immediate , Simon and Schuster , New York, USA . Callery , D. ( 2015 ) Through the Body: A Practical Guide to Physical Theatre , Routledge , Oxford, UK . Cohen-Cruz , J. ( 2013 ) Radical Street Performance: An International Anthology , Routledge , Oxford, UK . Conrad , D. and Sinner , A. ( 2015 ) Creating Together: Participatory, Community-based, and Collaborative Arts Practices and Scholarship Across Canada , Wilfrid Laurier University Press , Waterloo, Canada . Coverley , M. ( 2010 ) Psychogeography , Oldcastle Books , London, UK . Cresswell , T. ( 2004 ) Place: A Short Introduction , Blackwell , UK . Cresswell , T. and Merriman , P. ( 2011 ) Geographies of Mobilities: Practices, Spaces, Subjects , Ashgate , Farnham, UK . Danielsen , H. ( 2013 ) Da det personlige ble politisk: den nye kvinne- og mannsbevegelsen på 1970-tallet (When the personal became political: the new womens´ and men´s movement in the 1970s) , Scandinavian Academic Press , Oslo, Norway . Day , G. ( 2006 ) Community and Everyday Life , Routledge , London, UK . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Debord , G. ( 1983 ) Society of the Spectacle , Rebel Press , London, UK . Dewey , J. ( 1916 ) Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education , Macmillan , New York, USA . Dominelli , L. ( 2002 ) Anti-oppressive Social Work Theory and Practice , Palgrave Macmillan , Basingstoke, UK . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Dunkley , R. A. and Franklin , A. ( 2017 ) Failing better: the stochastic art of evaluating community-led environmental action programs , Evaluation and program planning , 60 , 112 – 122 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS PubMed Ehn , P. , Nilsson , E. and Topgaard , R. ( 2014 ) Making Futures: Marginal Notes on Innovation, Design and Democracy , MIT Press , Cambridge, UK . Freire , P. ( 1995 ) Pedagogy of Hope. Reliving Pedagogy of the Oppressed , Continuum , New York, USA . George , A. L. and Bennett , A. ( 2005 ) Case Studies and Theory Development in the Social Sciences , MIT Press , Cambridge, UK . Gielen , P. and de De Bruyne , P. , eds ( 2011 ) Community Art. The Politics of Trespassing , Valiz , Amsterdam, the Netherlands . Giesler , M. A. ( 2017 ) Teaching note—theatre of the oppressed and social work education: radicalizing the practice classroom , Journal of Social Work Education , 53 , 347 – 353 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Gunnarsson , E. , Hansen , H. P. , Nielsen , B. S. , et al. ( 2016 ) Action Research for Democracy: New Ideas and Perspectives From Scandinavia , Routledge , New York, USA . Haug , F. ( 1999 ) Female Sexualization: A Collective Work of Memory , Verso , London, UK . Jungk , R. and Müllert , N. ( 1987 ) Future Workshops: How to Create Desirable Futures , Institute for Social Inventions , London, UK . Krznaric , R. ( 2015 ) Empathy: Why it Matters, and How to Get it , Perigee , New York, USA . Lecoq , J. ( 2009 ) The Moving Body: Teaching Creative Theatre , Methuen , London, UK . Ledwith , M. and Springett , J. ( 2010 ) Participatory Practice: Community-based Action for Transformative Change , Policy Press , Bristol, UK . Lefebvre , H. ( 2004 ) Rhythmanalysis: Space, Time and Everyday Life , Continuum Books , London, UK . MacKenzie , S. K. ( 2013 ) Poetic praxis: engaging body, mind, and soul in the social foundations classroom , Journal for Learning Through the Arts , 9 ( 1 ), 1 – 27 . McFarlane , C. ( 2011 ) The city as a machine for learning , Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers , 36 , 360 – 376 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Miller , A. K. ( 2015 ) Freedom to Fail: How do I Foster Risk-Taking and Innovation in My Classroom? Ringgold Inc. , Alexandria, USA . Minkler , M. ( 2012 ) Community Organizing and Community Building for Health and Welfare , Rutgers University Press , New York, USA . Mitchell , T. ( 2014 ) Dario Fo: People’s Court Jester , Methuen , London, UK . Nicholson , H. ( 2005 ) Applied Drama: The Gift of Theatre , Palgrave Macmillan , Basingstoke, UK . Nielsen , B. S. and Nielsen , K. A. ( 2016 ) Critical Utopian action research, in Hansen , H. P. , Nielsen B. S. , Sriskandarajah N. and Gunnarsson E. , eds , Commons, Sustainability, Democratization: Action Research and the Basic Renewal of Society , Routledge , New York and London , pp. 74 – 106 . Pink , S. ( 2015 ) Doing Sensory Ethnography , Sage , London, UK . Popple , K. ( 2015 ) Analysing Community Work: Theory and Practice , McGraw-Hill Education , UK . Purcell , R. ( 2009 ) Images for change: community development, community arts and photography , Community Development Journal , 44 , 111 – 122 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Purcell , R. ( 2012 ) Community development and everyday life , Community Development Journal , 47 , 266 – 281 . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Revans , R. W. ( 2011 ) ABC of Action Learning , Gower , Surrey, UK . Shaw , M. and Meade , R. ( 2013 ) Community development and the arts: towards a more creative reciprocity, in Mayo , P. , ed. , Learning With Adults , SensePublishers , Rotterdam, The Netherlands . Solnit , R. ( 2001 ) Wanderlust: A History of Walking , Penguin Books , New York, USA . Turner , V. W. ( 1982 ) From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play , Performing Arts Journal Publication , Michigan, USA . Turner , E. L. B. ( 2012 ) Communitas: The Anthropology of Collective Joy , Palgrave Macmillan , New York, USA . Van Erven , E. ( 2013 ) Community Arts Dialogues , Vrede van Utrecht, Utrecht, the Netherlands . van Erven , E. ( 2016 ) ‘What if it Rains?’ How to Make a Parade , Pamphlet. Utrecht University , Utrecht . Watson , I. ( 2002 ) Negotiating Cultures: Eugenio Barba and the Intercultural Debate , Manchester University Press , Manchester, UK . © Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2018 All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices) http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Community Development Journal Oxford University Press

Applying creativity and physical arts in community work education

Community Development Journal , Volume Advance Article (3) – May 8, 2018

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© Oxford University Press and Community Development Journal. 2018 All rights reserved. For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com
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Abstract

Abstract In the Masters programme in Community Work at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, Bergen, students and teachers engage in interactive learning and problem-solving together. Paolo Freire showed us how learning is achieved through critical dialogue and praxis, i.e. action and reflection. Two different experimental workshops offered to both regular and visiting students, used alternative forms of dialogue and action. Through dialogues produced with words, bodily gestures, props and movements, and reflection upon action, generative themes emerged. These themes concerned ecological and social challenges faced by community workers. Students in the first workshop engaged in ‘skip diving’ with an aim of transforming skipped food into a gourmet food festive dinner, and in the second workshop students and teachers chose to create a socially relevant parade around the main street of a city borough. In both workshops artists with experiences in community participation were involved. The article discusses how arts-based workshops facilitate creation of context-sensitive tools for community workers as creative agents of change. Introduction: ‘Encountering the strange, and making a difference’ It is so important in professional community work training to meet the strange and encounter the unexpected. By doing art-inspired skip diving and making a street gallery, and walking-talking the city as in psychogeography, we saw surprising things happen before our eyes and learned a lot. Making Torgallmenningen, Bergen’s central spot, into a space for sharing stories and wasted food, made a real difference (Pedro, student, 2014). In January 2007, the first Scandinavian cross-disciplinary Masters programme in Community Work was launched in Bergen. Since then, the programme has focused on creativity as an important theoretical and practical tool for the community worker. However, to equip students with art-based tools for practical work, the teachers decided to change the curriculum. In 2014 and 2016, experimental four-day action-learning workshops were offered as part of an elective fifteen ECTS course, and regular and visiting students could sign up. The course included themes such as community art, social movements, hope and utopias, and international solidarity. The learning activities aimed to prepare students for an expanded social reality and enable them to explain how social movements and art-related activities contribute to broadening knowledge of community work, in practice and theory. Learning outcomes were acquirement of skills, knowledge and general competency, contributing to critical thinking and innovative practice and the ability to ‘work independently on practical and theoretical problems’ and to ‘use relevant methods for research and scholarly and/or artistic development work’. In achieving this, we acknowledge, as student Pedro stated above, how important it is ‘in professional community work training to meet the strange and encounter the unexpected.’ This article presents a practical outline of the two workshops and discusses impact of location and methodology on production of the material used in this article. It then presents and discusses workshop key activities; skip diving (also called dumpster diving or skip salvaging) in 2014, and a parade in 2016. In conclusion, the author suggests that experimental workshops in regular educational programmes can inspire use of more context-sensitive tools, and facilitate the development of community workers as creative agents of change. The experimental workshops The specific learning outcome for the two workshops was to obtain creative group work skills through action learning and action research (Revans, 2011; Abbott and Taylor, 2013; Gunnarsson et al. 2016; Nielsen and Nielsen, 2016). Collective action, working and learning together are pinpointed as key values in community work by Popple (2015, pp. 118–119), and are hallmarks of action learning and research. Through dance, music and playful and creative ways of solving tasks and performing together, these values can be strengthened. The workshops aimed to unpack a key concept in community work, i.e. participation, by examining how participant expertise, resources and critical consciousness could be built and mobilized through creative, bodily, and physical means (Cohen-Cruz, 2013; Conrad and Sinner, 2015; Gielen and de De Bruyne, 2011; Ledwith and Springett, 2010; Nicholson, 2005; Shaw and Meade, 2013). Creative working methods facilitated and demonstrated the necessity of cocreation and coproduction of social change. Students engaged in applied theatre, music, filming, photography, and creative writing, and did exercises, readings, seminars, and public actions together. The boxes below provide an outline of the workshops. Proposals for key activities were discussed between colleagues in the Master’s programme and suggestions were presented to the group of students for further discussion, changes, and implementation. Workshop 2014 Workshop 2016 Key activities: Skip diving and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, photo-voice and documentation through film Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Key activities: Making parade and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, community music, creative writing and psychogeography Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Workshop 2014 Workshop 2016 Key activities: Skip diving and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, photo-voice and documentation through film Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Key activities: Making parade and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, community music, creative writing and psychogeography Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Workshop 2014 Workshop 2016 Key activities: Skip diving and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, photo-voice and documentation through film Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Key activities: Making parade and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, community music, creative writing and psychogeography Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Workshop 2014 Workshop 2016 Key activities: Skip diving and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, photo-voice and documentation through film Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre Key activities: Making parade and ritual sharing Key methods: Physical ensemble work, community music, creative writing and psychogeography Monday to Thursday from 9:00 to evening (flexible) at Apropos Theatre In workshop 2014 the fulcrum activity was skip diving as a vehicle for a critical discourse on food waste, and a transformation of thrown-away food into a gourmet meal in a ritual sharing and celebration at the farewell dinner. In workshop 2016 the fulcrum activity was to make a public parade in a Bergen borough. In line with the action learning tradition, students and staff together designed workshops that related to real world problems. The workshops addressed the shortcomings of ‘learning by doing’ (Dewey, 1916), and introduced an alternative ethic of ‘learning by responsibility’ (Revans, 2011) and reflective empathic actions in solidarity (Freire, 1995; Krznaric, 2015). The workshops demanded long hours by students and staff, including a late-night dinner. The students said that the organization of the workshops outside the University in an unusual environment furthered critical reflection and learning. The programme staff designed the workshops, and J.K.B., the first author of this article, was responsible for the course. Facilitating praxis, i.e. action and reflection, students were active in making amendments to course plans. Redesigning or negotiating plans were both means and aims of the programme. Workshop environment, ethical considerations, and methodology The workshops were located outside University facilities, in the theatre house of Apropos Theatre, where J.K.B. has vested interests as producer and part of the artistic crew, and his wife, Solvei Stoutland, is artistic director. She contributed as a teaching artist on physical ensemble work in both workshops. This article relates to experiences and materials made available through J.K.B.’s composite roles; as professor in community work, course initiator, collaborative partner in the Apropos Theatre, and experienced skip diver. These roles share common obligations; to engage in critical self-reflection, to learn from failure, accomplishment and experimentation, and to suggest improvements for better community work in the future. The arrangement and facilitation of the workshops probably benefited from all these roles and the author’s longstanding interest in social activism and community art. Overall, students, teachers, and artists evaluated the course positively, whereas there were differences of opinion about some of activities. Some students experienced physical ensemble work as challenging or a violation of private space and boundaries. The staff saw that bodily copresence and touch could be threatening and difficult for everyone to deal with, even if some welcomed the challenge. Making the learning environment both safe and challenging, while respecting personal limits and needs, became important. In dealing with this as an important issue and a welcome critique, the staff designed legitimate and alternative participation as a regular option, e.g. taking short self-selected breaks, and changing between action and observation. In the skip diving sessions, a variety of tasks to choose from was provided, that made direct contact with garbage fully optional; e.g. observing, preparing the festive meal, damage control or Facebook-activism. Students and teachers collectively agreed to establish a Facebook group to heighten awareness of food waste. The material underpinning the arguments in this article is produced through participant observation and interviews with students, staff and artists, during and after the workshops, and with community members when conducting actions in public. As a teacher, artist, and researcher, J.K.B. made participant-observation notes, conducted and transcribed interviews recorded on film by the teaching artist Raúl Capote Braña from Cuba, conducted informal and formal conversations, and walking-talking and non-verbal communication during activities (Pink, 2015). The compiled material from the workshops constituted a case study. Case studies are well suited to explore complex material that includes a diverse set of methods (George and Bennett, 2005). Participants in the workshops were Masters students from Norway, China, and Spain, and teachers/artists from Norway, Cuba, and Portugal. Data production complied with the ethics of informed consent. Students have been assigned fictional names in this article, since consent to use real names was not systematically obtained from all participants. Motivation and inspiration Motivation and inspiration for developing creative arts in the Master’s programme came from many sources. The main motivation for creating these experimental workshops came from a wish to strengthen the Paulo Freire-inspired pedagogy, by taking his ideas out into the public realm, as did his theatre companion, Augusto Boal (1995). Boal saw the use of the body as vital to achieve the reflective learning outcome described by Freire, arguing that counter-acting banking-education (one way preaching and teaching) necessitated physical engagement. The exercises used in the workshops resemble those detailed by Boal and developed in the strand of physical theatre (Boal, 1992, 2006; Callery, 2015). Further motivation and inspiration for the workshop 2016 parade came from the political street theatre developed by Dario Fo and Franca Rame (Mitchell, 2014). From the community work toolbox, inspiration came from future workshops (Jungk and Müllert, 1987), the labour movement and adult education workshops, and feminist consciousness-raising groups, which originated the slogan ‘the personal is political’ (Haug, 1999; Danielsen, 2013). The Scandinavian participatory design model from the 1970s, starting with action-research collaboration with trade unions at the workplace, represented another inspiring practice in this context (Ehn, Nilsson and Topgaard, 2014, p. 7). The pedagogical development practice was also fertilized by the international Living Lab´s thinking and doing, as types of participatory laboratories ‘ranging from market-oriented labs for user testing of new products to long-term engagements between designers and diverse groups of citizens and their concerns’ (Ehn, Nilsson and Topgaard, 2014, pp. 8–9). The latter groups could be neighbourhoods and diverse groups of people that represent marginalized or stake-holding positions, and students, as in this case. Living labs grapple with the practical doings of democracies in the making, in similar ways as does our workshops. From the field of socially engaged arts different versions of art laboratories inspiration came from community music workshops, physical ensemble work (Lecoq, 2009), ritual sharing (Barba, 1995, 2013; Watson, 2002; Turner, 2012), participatory theatre (Boal, 1995), the photo-voice method (Purcell, 2009), making parades (Van Erven, 2013), and creative writing and poetic praxis (MacKenzie, 2013). An important part of this was to immerse students, teachers, and artists into the practice of psychogeography as place-making (Popple, 2015; Coverley, 2010; Beck and Purcell, 2015; Purcell, 2012; Cresswell and Merriman, 2011; Cresswell, 2004) where socially engaged arts and community work have joint interests and shared practices. The workshops combined strategies, actions and models through a mix of community work methods, action learning and action research methods, and artistically developed methods for team-building and collective performance in public, as in ensemble work inspired by Boal, Fo, Lecoq, and Callery (Boal, 1992; Callery, 2015; Mitchell, 2014; Lecoq, 2009). Ensemble work and the exercise with bamboo sticks ‘When we had the bamboo exercise, we were totally dependent on communication without talking’, says Master’s student Marie, referring to a concrete collective bamboo exercise in the 2016 workshop. She continued to reflect upon how the physical ensemble work became a key experience in understanding how to mobilize people’s own resources in collective action for social change. First and foremost, she stated that it was ‘a lesson in how professional community workers must dive into their own repertoire of resources’ to become better guides or facilitators in change-work with others. We had to give and take. We coproduced movements through talking through our fingers. You make mistakes and you build it up again. Losing the grip on the bamboos and getting laughing kicks when we shouldn’t became good learning experiences. It felt more real and we experimented with new ways of doing things that we wouldn’t have tried without the mistakes. We were challenged and tried new things repeatedly. It was good but also a bit scary. I would never have done this without being in that workshop (Marie). Valuing ‘mistakes’ and ‘doing’ are important: the latter deal with embodied learning and action learning, in companionship, enabling key experiences in thinking and doing community work (as relational group work) differently, through concrete exercises. Another student put it this way; Working with bamboos was very inspiring. I saw a lot of bamboos in China. Everywhere. We are building houses by using bamboos and Pandas eat bamboo, but I have never thought about using them as a communication tool, in an action learning workshop, like that. I was moved, because it represents people’s relationships in a society (Jiang, student 2016). The bamboo-exercises occupied a significant position during the workshops. As part of different playful exercises, participants were introduced to bodily sensuous awareness of positions, postures and expressions in space with others, through a series of designed activities and preparations. Some exercises made us sense space in different way, e.g. acting blind, being led by a bamboo stick, crawling on the floor/ground, walking the space in different tempo and emotional states, and creating a dense crowd and dispersing by removing quickly from the central crowded spot. The explorative awareness aspect of this has a strong affinity to psychogeography as spacial awareness. The action part refers to how we prepared ourselves and the available space to make an impact. The impact came through place-making, where the space was turned to a meaningful and interesting place where togetherness, curiosity, and excitement, could emerge. The art director and teaching artist explained how participants transformed greeting routines into something special: We have done this since we were small and learned how it works. Take her hand, shake it, and tell your name. We don’t reflect about what we do, and we forget the name of the other person. To restart this process is interesting. You give them the task; walk the room, find eye contact with somebody, walk towards that person, shake hands and say your name, and walk away! We can do this for hours. Because it is so interesting to see how you can develop yourself through these encounters, and how two persons can be, in this very special moment, recognizing one and another. The bodies tune in and listen while keeping eye contact. It’s like musical sensation where you can experiment, fail, and repeat (Solvei). A small routine activity takes on a new and deeper meaning that values co-recognition and copresence. ‘Greeting someone will never be the same after this’, one student reported. Solvei also made a connection to how the community music sessions contributed in similar ways, preparing and tuning in participants for collective performances, and attaching meaning to it. As training in body-emotional awareness this worked well: the participants opened for an expanded sensuous presence, together. We were simply better prepared to perform collectively in public, as in the skip diving actions in 2014, and two years later, in making a socially relevant parade. Emerging themes – issue selection The hallmark of community work is to facilitate empowerment and critical consciousness, community capacity and social capital, issue selection, participation, and work that is relevant (Minkler, 2012). In focusing on issue selection, you should ‘identify winnable and specific targets of change that unify and build community strength’ and enhance participation by community members as ‘part of a larger strategy’. In conducting parts of the repertoire of physical ensemble work (see above), and introducing the main activities in the workshops, the project tried to facilitate an environment where the participants’ experiences, senses, and resources became activated. This echoes the advanced preparations artists subject themselves to when creating a performance with participants considered equal in terms of resources, experiences and skills. When looking at collective actions in this context, the participants transformed space into place through a series of open activities and designed preparations. Students and teachers did the same but sensed the actual space in different ways. Some of these techniques contributed to an emptying of space for established meanings and routines (Brook, 1995; Lecoq, 2009) in order to remake the space, and create strange encounters with the familiar. These processes are seen in ritual preparations and performances (Turner, 1982; Boal, 1995) and in psychogeography (Beck and Purcell, 2015). The theatre rehearsal house, where the common meals, seminars, and conversations were held, facilitated the flourishing of ideas. By doing interchanging indoor and outdoor activities (skip diving, preparing parade, psycho-geographical walking) issues emerged, that united the group in terms of shared meanings and emotions (Minkler, 2012). In the two workshops, development of common meaningful goals for our collective actions appeared. These were: to raise awareness of how to relate to each other in everyday life and in the public; be aware of urban spaces as sites of oppression and resistance; and to appreciate and acknowledge personal resources and skills in making a difference. In 2014, the skip diving activity gradually changed character. From being an action to transform garbage to gourmet food for a festive dinner, students, artists, and guest teachers, transformed the activities to something more; a public action to facilitate critical awareness and dialogues on how food waste and consumption can be connected to the emergent environmental crisis and global inequalities. Skip diving 2014: ‘What do you think about wasting food?’ Skip diving or dumpster diving has become a ‘popular form of modern salvaging of waste’ in the Global north (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dumpster_diving), addressing important global concerns. As a group activity combined with preparation and eating of a common meal, the project’s joint activities in 2014 were fertile ground for dialogue around environmental issues combining local actions and global issues. When skip diving was introduced to staff, students, and teachers as the key workshop activity, reactions ranged from hesitation to curiosity. Some students were strangers to the idea of digging for food in garbage. One voiced a common concern that ‘It could be dangerous and probably illegal’, hinting towards both unhealthy consumption and violation of private property rights. The staff addressed the first objection by ensuring that it was done with care, avoiding taking meat, or fish or other products that had stayed too long in the dumpster bins or been exposed to heat. The diving, thus, had to be prepared – choosing bins unexposed to direct sunlight, and making quality control procedures. The workshop was held in September when the temperature is a liability, and the weather changes from ‘Indian summer’ to rainy storms in half a day. In Norway, skip diving is best done in the cold season, or as soon as possible after food disposal. Finding high quality food in bins triggered reflections. Students, teachers, and artists soon became comfortable with the activity. An emerging issue was overcoming the fear of what others would think of you, related to shyness, shame and embarrassment: ‘What if someone I know sees me doing this?’, or ‘What if the people working in the supermarket approach us – and tell us to bugger off?’, as two students said. For the participants, all these worries and expectations provided food for thought, and challenged all of us to step out of our comfort zone and engage. The activity provided good opportunities to discuss ‘who's crime is the throwing away of eatable food?’ both within the workshop, and with friends and family. Occasionally participants encountered reluctant or even hostile staff – and got the chance to explain, argue, inform and sometimes slip into interesting dialogues. As such, the activity created opportunities to critically reflect upon our sense of community, consumption, and power-relations. However, a boundary situation occurred when the participants found bins closed with a locker, and the objection towards the legal status of the activity was animated: What now? Is it time to break the law? And call upon civil disobedience and engage in acts of resistance? The legal argument was of course important: ‘If the garbage bin is open in a widely available place, there is probably nothing wrong with removing items from it. But if you need to enter clearly marked private spots, break up a locker, or get into someone else’s property, dumpster diving in such places is illegal.’1 In 2014, J.K.B. consulted Judge Noss, who confirmed that thrown-away food should be regarded as de-relinquished goods, and not illegal to acquire. If, however, the bins were locked, acquiring was a violation of private property rights. The moral argument (in face of social injustice and food waste) could, however, be a trump in court, she said. So, the workshop participants dived for food, but didn't break the law or any locker. Nonetheless, an important dialogue took place on law and democracy, and on the nature of private property rights in terms of formal law, general (in)justice, and local and global inequalities. Due to shop routines, skip divers were active on afternoons, Monday to Thursday, after the regular workshop hours. Students, artists and teachers took part as much as they could, considering other duties and obligations, and the teaching artists Braña from Cuba and Marquez from Portugal documented the activities on film and photo-voice. Several themes for critical dialogues emerged about the consumer society: the throwing away of edible food, linked to the politics of putting ‘safe’ expiring dates on products to keep production high, a possible critique of capitalism; and the hard work of food production by farmers worldwide whose products ended up in Bergen’s dumpster bins. A turning point? During the second day of skip diving something happened in the group, voiced by a student: It was interesting because we felt confident. We talked about it from the beginning and we did the skip diving in the evenings. It was not a bad experience – on the contrary! We didn’t have much time to plan, but we did it! We went to some supermarkets and ‘dived’ into the dumpster bins. After the second action, we put the food on the ground and it was like a picture: one that you could have on the wall, like those old still-life pictures. It was so powerful! And it pushed us to think about how it relates to community work and critical consciousness in the group. I think we did something great in those few days (Pedro). From this first realization of the power of a photo an idea of enlarging the issue grew. What about a public exhibition in a central place in Bergen – combined with dialogues with the public around food-waist and consumerism? What about Facebook-activism? What about a documentary film on skip diving? Diverse decisions were suddenly made within an enthusiastic collective spirit. Photo-voice and community actions in public spaces swiftly became more than contemplative possibilities within a University setting. A lot of interesting things came out of the ideas and emerging plans, and in the early afternoon of the third day an exhibition of food-waste was set up at the main city square, Torgallmenningen. Students and teachers collectively agreed to establish a Facebook group to heighten awareness of food waste. The Internet community group, named DumpsterArt-Project, with elements of the photo-voice method for voicing peoples' concerns through photos and videos (Purcell, 2009), became an integral part of the exhibition as an expanded place-event.2 All students and teachers/artists participating in the exhibition/street-gallery had prediscussed how to present the project to local people. In dialogue with the public, the students Siri and Catrine presented the action in this way: We have done dumpster diving in the containers behind the supermarkets in Bergen. We bring it here. What do you think about wasting the food? This is about how to use the arts in community work, and we made this exhibition and want to document people's reactions. We would like to take a picture of you and if you agree you will become part of the artwork – on Facebook (Siri). We want you to present a feeling concerning the wasted food. If you don’t know what to say, you don’t have to say a thing. It is just your picture (Catrine). Besides filming photos and video-shots, people from all walks of life also vocally expressed their concerns. A woman from Bergen simply stated that we all throw too much, and an immigrant woman from Poland reacted with horror: ‘It is not even sad. It is shocking, unbelievable!’ A male refugee from Syria simply stated that his family now ‘lives on the borders between Turkey and Syria, and Jordan, and needs food’. A young man from Bergen says that, luckily, we have the City Mission, who ‘take in groceries like this and helps the poor’. Finally, a man from Uganda, points to another compelling concern: Look at this sweet potato! It is disrespectful to throw it away and against human rights. We only cook food we are going to eat. And we recycle. In Norway, you recycle paper, plastic, and bottles. Why don’t you recycle food? In a long conversation with the students, the participants touched upon a range of action learning benefits in bringing skip diving into an academic course on community work. First, the activity was recognized as an interest-driven fieldwork technique that made you take specific perspectives on the environment and people encountered. Then, the value of experiencing a neighbourhood from the perspective of someone looking for wasted goods like a beggar or poor person making the best of their situation, or from a spectator point of view as in the street exhibition action, was recognized as important. By walking in the imagined footsteps of a poor or desperate person, the participants staged encounters that confronted and begged for response. This gave way to new approaches and encounters with the environment. By doing this, the workshops used peripheral vision and elements from psychogeography; where wandering the streets with a loose aim (Coverley, 2010; Solnit, 2001; Debord, 1983) makes you realize unexpected traits of both the familiar and the strange. By performing such actions the space transforms into a specific site; a place. For participants and people encountered this was an example of genuine place-making, i.e. making the space into a site of meaningful exchange, worthy of remembrance. This resonates with an understanding of the concept ‘place-event’ (Pink, 2015) where ‘thrown-togetherness’ adds value to participants’ life projects or ‘sense of place’ through movements (Cresswell, 2004; Cresswell and Merriman, 2011) and ‘sense of community’ through engagement (Day, 2006). This project exemplified environmental affordance and ‘learning in context’, in ways similar to those Sudmann explores in her article on friluftsliv and horses, and to explorations by Fallov and Jørgensen in their article on urban spaces as ‘learning machines’ (McFarlane, 2011), both in this issue. By choosing skip diving as a social action the workshop accomplished different tasks and reached both planned and unintended goals. Participants dealt with an issue that aroused both enthusiasm and concern, the task was challenging but simple in terms of explanation and doing, and the emerging issue united group members and connected them to a wider community in the spirit of dialogue, joint consciousness raising, and pursuing relevant community actions (Minkler, 2012). Making parade 2016 In 2016 teachers and students agreed to make a friendly intervention or a parade at Nesttun, a refashioned Bergen borough. The lack of activity in the (old) outdoor market square had become obviously problematic after most commercial activities had moved into the shopping mall, and teachers and students considered that a friendly parade would highlight this, and provide ways of engaging residents to voice their own concerns on the matter. Van Erven (2016) defines parades, in line with some psychogeography practices, as groups of people ‘moving through public space with an explicit intention: to draw attention to a particular political or social issue, to commemorate, to celebrate, to reclaim an area, or to fill a place with moveable collectively created artistic expressions’. In preparing for the parade in the 2016 workshop a mix between physical ensemble work, community music, and creative writing sessions, were facilitated. The teachers also invited all participants (students, teachers, and artists) to a precourse evening where we discussed and amended the plan, and shared ideas on the purpose of the parade. The centre of Nesttun, a borough in Bergen, was chosen because several participants knew the area, and the distance from the workshop location was relatively short. Agreeing upon the purpose of the parade was trickier; a distinct political action would not be feasible for the group. Eventually we settled on making a friendly ‘intervention’ that could invite residents and users of the area to engage in a dialogue around problems and prospects of the space and place. Preparation included a field-trip and walk in Nesttun centre, inspired by community work psychogeography (Beck and Purcell, 2015); looking for paths, edges, nodes, and landmarks that regularly slip out of view. We ended up with three core observations inspiring the parade; the old outdoor market place was empty (needing attention), the shopping mall was busy (needing a challenge), and the new light rail (a new rhythm), all occupied paramount centrality. By walking the area and talking to people, participants sensed how different spaces were inclusive or exclusive toward different persons, and how people moved in and through the area's localities in different ways. The participants soon realized that the most populated area was inside the shopping mall, and the least human traffic was at the old outdoors market place. Talking to residents revealed sorrow about how the market place had declined and a subsequent change of temporality and rhythm. Inspired by ‘rhythmanalysis’ (Lefebvre, 2004), participants explored what happened in that space in terms of flow, sound-scape, and emerging cultural material practice. And our community musician Lars Kolstad made us listen; In making music, the most important thing is when we are not playing. That’s when we listen, to ourselves and to each other. We need to approach communication as a dance and with attendance to rhythms. That’s why the silence is so important. The silent part of our parade, as we did inside the shopping mall, was so powerful (Lars). The invited teacher of creative community writing, Berit Bareksten, gained the experience of being with a group of enthusiastic students and artists/teachers, willing to experiment and fail to reach the goal of creating a community relevant parade; The great thing was that we worked together as a group, regardless of whether we were teachers, artists or students. We made a parade together and were initially challenged and prepared by working physically and emotionally together through community theatre, music and writing exercises. (Berit). Being inspired by both the community music and physical ensemble exercises, Berit, embarked on a very productive session with the students and the other teachers/artists in making the parade work. We worked with a goal of making slogans or texts that the group could use to accompany the parade. It became: take the square back – come and have some cake! And we baked apple pies and shared, and it was all a very creative, powerful and funny. At the old market place, outdoors in rain! (Berit) The participants welcomed people who came to the square and we asked them if they could write proposals for a better Nesttun on some small apple-hearts on red cardboard. We got many good proposals, and good conversations flourished. At one moment, a man came out from where his work mates had been watching the finale of the parade – the fall of the bamboos – and he said it ‘created very good dynamics and very much joy into our workday’. As an act of reclaiming the square, however mildly, we felt connected to the subversive aspect of psychogeography that originated with the situationalists’ political art-movement of the late 1960s and early 1970s (Debord, 1983). One of the students, Irene, who lives there, stated; ‘Nesttun will never be the same again after this, ever’. Concluding remarks In our experimental workshops, one aim was to value other ways of communicating and doing, e.g. communication without talking, use of bamboo sticks and other ways of bodily coordination became central. Improvements came quickly by practicing. In developing tactile responsiveness to others, regular failures were expected. Instead of putting a negative mark on it, regular dropping of the bamboos was made into a learning opportunity. This credo, failing as a virtue, was a central leitmotif in both workshops, regularly accompanied by playful comments such as ‘Perfection is boring’, ‘That’s good, we failed’, and a lot of laughter. Through this and other playful activities, the workshops managed to build a productive atmosphere and a mindful body-awareness that made collective action both desirable and effective. Instead of being afraid of making mistakes the workshops tried to make the participants more open towards the necessities of failing as a route to exploration of teaching and learning community work. This point is important for laboratories as spheres of experimentation where failures are expected, necessary, and welcomed. The willingness to experiment and to be open to the possibilities of learning from failures is highlighted by many scholars (Dunkley and Franklin, 2017; Miller, 2015), and has been an integral feature in our workshops. This is, perhaps, the most important lesson learned in creating more context-sensitive tools for community workers, as creative agents of change; play and experiment more, and make students, artists, and teachers alike more comfortable with the art of failing and falling, together. Important to note is that FAIL is an acronym for First Attempt in Learning. Another lesson is that dialogues, even if primarily related to spoken and written languages, always and already are embodied and physical. Oral discourse, however, tends to disqualify those who do not fully master other aspects of knowing, talking, interrupting and arguing. Some may be muted and have less opportunities to affect collective achievements. Through the workshop, participants tried out different ways of dialogical interaction to promote an expanded democratic model by promoting sensuous diversity, and an anti-discriminatory practice (Dominelli, 2002; Breivik, 2005; Ledwith and Springett, 2010; Popple, 2015). But exclusion might also happen when bodily, non-verbal performances are privileged. Working with spoken and physical dialogues and practices gave participants an embodied experience of principles for exclusion and inclusion in a group, and a personal understanding of why inclusion and exclusion are tricky concepts in (everyday) life (Day, 2006). In this perspective, the arts-based workshops certainly helped in creating context-sensitive tools for (future) community workers as creative agents of both change and reflection. The challenge is to implement this insight, and to make regular community work education, at all levels, more sensuous, and experimental. Physical teaching and learning is an untapped resource in community work, which equips students with practical tools for dealing with social change. We hereby encourage our fellow community workers and socially engaged educators to take their fill from this ‘horn of plenty’. In Giesler’s (2017) opinion, applying Boal’s exercises to the practice classroom ‘heightens students’ self-awareness and awareness of the other, which, in turn, brings into sharper focus concepts such as empowerment, empathy, and social change. Jan-Kåre Breivik is a social anthropologist with a Ph.D. from the University of Oslo (2001), since 2012 professor in community work with particular responsibility for scholarly development and innovation at the Master’s programme in Community Work at Western Norway University of Applied Sciences. He has also been a member of Apropos Theatre since 2006. His research interests are related to experimental learning, homelessness, social movements, disability, minority issues, and more. Tobba Therkildsen Sudmann is a physiotherapist, and social scientist, with a Ph.D. from Department of Global Health and Primary Care at the University of Bergen (2009). Her research interest is related to how people use their bodily resources to enhance their well-being and social participation. Tobba was head of the Master’s programme in Community Work 2006–2016. Acknowledgements Thanks to community work colleagues Kjell Henriksbø and Berit Bareksten, theatre partner Solvei Stoutland, community musician Lars Kolstad, artist Raúl Capote Braña (Cuba), the professors in applied theatre Stig Eriksson and Tor-Helge Allern, community art scholar Eduardo Marquez (Portugal), and the visiting students from Spain and China, and enroled Master’s students, Western Norway University of Applied Sciences, from community work, applied drama, and music. The workshops could not have been made without your valuable contributions. Thanks to reviewers and editors of CDJ. Funding Western Norway University of Applied Sciences annual research grants. Footnotes 1 Translated from https://www.ung.no/oss/kriminalitet/240,808.html 2 See https://www.facebook.com/DumpsterArt-Project-687,553,091,330,889/. References Abbott , C. and Taylor , P. ( 2013 ) Action Learning in Social Work , SAGE , Los Angeles, USA . Google Scholar CrossRef Search ADS Barba , E. 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For permissions, please email: journals.permissions@oup.com This article is published and distributed under the terms of the Oxford University Press, Standard Journals Publication Model (https://academic.oup.com/journals/pages/about_us/legal/notices)

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Community Development JournalOxford University Press

Published: May 8, 2018

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