Communities of practice are an alternative to traditional and vertical learning processes. They are structures that promote participatory and horizontal learning through dialogue, reflection and collaborative experimentation. They are formed by groups of people linked by a common practice, who seek collective solutions to complex problems. The practice unites the community in three dimensions: mutual commitment, collective task, and collective knowledge (Wenger 1998).
At Hevas we had the opportunity to lead the co-design of a community of practice for the Triangular Cooperation India-Mexico-Germany for the Improvement of Air Quality, promoted by the German Cooperation Agency (GIZ) in which government institutions from India and Mexico, based on the common purpose of improving air quality and inspired by the experiences shared by specialists and organisations from the United Kingdom, Germany, Mexico and other countries, designed projects for the creation of clean air zones in their cities. The creation and dynamisation of this community of practice that we call Breathable Cities, detonated the possibility of innovating and collaborating internationally despite the limitations imposed by the pandemic, thus demonstrating that with virtual tools we can create new realities that, had they been in person, would’ve been more expensive and difficult to implement on three different continents
To ensure the success of a community of practice, it is essential to create interpersonal bonds and build trust among community members so that they feel free to express their ideas and that they can engage in fruitful and constructive conversations from equality and with a sense of solidarity. To achieve this, we take full advantage of the flexibility that virtual meetings provide and use our unique and innovative strategies to facilitate transformative experiences.
At Hevas we designed experiences that created the conditions for all people to participate and reflect equally, both individually and as a group. Within these experiences, skills in the design and management of urban socio-environmental projects, with a perspective on gender and intersectionality were strengthened. With the technical support of Ricardo, a consultancy specialising in air quality, we design various experiences such as:
The participants expressed great satisfaction with the experiences lived, however the the facilitation process was most praised as it ensured an atmosphere of friendly and trustful cooperation in which, surprised, they opened their minds to mutual understanding, their hearts to interculturalism and the feeling of all the participants, and their willingness to find agreements and share advice that would make their projects a reality in their respective cities.
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