Orchard Gardens

Throughout 2022, we will be based at Orchard Gardens Community Centre in Lewisham to explore how activities centred around art and culture can build community between people. As part of this, we are curious about how people can organise themselves so we will also explore how to bring people together to make decisions and deliver on them. The programme has been designed to coincide with Lewisham London Borough of Culture 2022.

Our framework for empowerment is based on the exchange of capital - social, economic, cultural. We believe that if these forms of capital can be accessed and shared differently within a community then that group of people will be able to do more with the same level of resources. Our model is therefore based on facilitating maximum exchange of social, economic and cultural resources within a community so that they can co-create their future.

Physical space for people to gather and meet is fundamental to exchange. When communities have physical space to share and therefore exchange, their ability to participate collectively in the processes and decision-making which shape neighbourhoods and wider society is enhanced. The highly-localised nature of community centres means they can be key sites for encouraging greater participation at the neighbourhood level.

We believe in the power of art and culture as mechanisms for exchange. Cultural programming can help fill community centres with energy and joy whilst helping people adapt to the challenges of the 21st century. For example, food growing, cooking and eating can occur alongside digital skills education, ensuring that people’s everyday needs are met whilst also equipping them with the skills required to participate as citizens of the 21st century.

Cultural programming can also be the start of an organic process of co-design that leads to community centres being upgraded to support local needs. Once these needs are met, the space can become the nucleus for reimagining the wider neighbourhood.

Our work at Orchard Gardens is the beginning of our mission. We are looking ahead to 2050 imagining a world that is sustainable and full of opportunities for community, imagination and joy.

Tuesday Oct 5 2021