John Gow has been appointed the Kingsway Community Builder, a 2 year post, and has been working hard for the past couple of weeks to better understand the Kingsway Community. Contrary to popular belief, he is not here to build houses, but more help build our community. Using a process called Asset Based Community Development (ABCD), he is aiming to build better connections/relationships within our community and help us grow and develop in a positive way. I have found what he has had to say really inspirational and has really taken me back to why I love community activism so much.
When you meet John (if you live in Kingsway, then it is a when, not if) I think, like me, you will find him an engaging and passionate person and its very easy to get onboard with his ideas. The main aim is not to be the “leader” of a group, like the Residents Association, but more an enabler, finding people with wants, needs , skills and knowledge, and empowering them to come together to achieve their common aims. This really takes m back to why I started the Kingsway Residents Association in the first place, the idea to develop community events and ways of building those relationships, if I had fully appreciated the ABCD approach then, maybe things would have been a bit different, who knows.
John has held a few meetings with local people already, and is embarking on a mission to understand what the community has to offer itself, by means of talking to people and taking notes on what people like about our neighbourhood, what they would like to do, if they want to become more involved and how they could be helped to achieve it. I would strongly encourage you if John, or one of the “connectors” ask you for your thoughts, please do invest a bit of your time, I think it will be really worth it. The idea is that we will develop an Asset map of Kingsway and Copeland Park (an asset is not just a building, put people’s skill etc) and we can connect like-minded people together and facilitate that community cohesion.
Some have said that Kingsway, being 9 years in development, is not a new community and shouldn’t need this, but I think that is the point, it still is in development and is still growing and as such so is the community with new people coming in all the time and therefore it is still an evolving organism and will hugely benefit from this intervention. I was really pleased at the last KRA public meeting, despite the rather hostile introduction, that John inspired quite a few residents to engage with him and to give it their time. A great first example of his approach in action is the new Kingsway Running Group, which started last Monday and is going to be every Monday at 6.30pm opposite Asda. John has facilitated this group coming together, and it’s already its own organic group with over 20 members.
Johns approach is different to my own, I can’t help but try to “fix” things for people, hence why I led the KRA, and am now a councillor, Johns approach is more to understand and facilitate people to fix it themselves and grow from the experience. Because of that, I am finding it a hugely inspirational and motivating way of working and I am hoping to absorb more of his approach and make myself a more useful councillor as a result. But if you do see my trying to lead everything, just give me a nudge and remind me ;-). But I also think the combination of the two of us is also going to be useful. I am going to employ this approach when we have our first Copeland Park Residents meeting on the 24th April, so I’m really looking forward to it.
I would urge all Kingsway and Copeland Park residents to get involved, I think this is a great opportunity.