Our Common Place toolbox

Our Common Place is an approach to engaging people in the set up, promotion and running of successful community led projects. The approach is unique in that it recognises the important role our values play in shaping our attitudes, behaviours and involvement in community life.

When I first joined Keep Britain Tidy, it was on the cusp of a merger with Waste Watch. I was brought in to head up a new local authority funded project ‘Our Common Place’. We were innovating in how to engage people in recycling, specifically trying to increase the usage of recycling bins on large council run estates across London. Waste Watch was a fantastic place to work at that time, we were doing lots of interesting work across many different areas under the strap line ‘waste less, live more’. It was one of the best jobs I’ve ever had.

What I loved about it most was that we were able to apply some of the recommendations from the hugely influential Common Cause report, while also taking learning’s from NEF’s Five Ways the Wellbeing and trying something that had never been tried before. We had an energetic and brilliant team and got some great results. The summary report we produced in 2012 gives an overview of the approach and what we achieved.

We also produced an Our Common Place toolbox, I wrote it with Marcela Teran (now at Greenpeace) when she joined us as a volunteer and later as a full time graphic designer. The toolbox used to be available as a free download from the Keep Britain Tidy website, unfortunately it no longer is, so I am making it available here after several requests from folk engaged in the Common Cause movement. Hopefully it will be of use to anyone interested in applying a values approach to community engagement in line with what the Common Cause Foundation continue to teach.

Download the Our Common Place toolbox

We organised the tools into four colour coded main sections, each of which have three or four sub-sections. Each sub-section comprises of four A4 sheets, designed to be either stuck together as an A2 poster, or cut up into a pocket sized booklet. Marcela is a design genius and a brilliant illustrator!

If you use these tools in your work, please reference Keep Britain Tidy.

  1. Getting started
    Why this approach?
    Exploring why values matter in community engagement
    You and your role: Making it clear who you are and what you’re up to
    Getting to know people and places: Exploring what’s what and who’s who

2. Deciding what to do and how to do it
Listening out for ideas: Discovering what people want to do in their community
Choosing a project: Deciding what to focus effort on and why
Forming a group: Finding the people who are going to make things happen
Making a plan: Turning good ideas into real life projects

3. Holding meetings and running events
Facilitation: Doing things with rather than for people
Health and Safety: Understanding, managing and minimising risks
Conflict management: Preventing and dealing with conflict
Volunteers: Where, why and how to engage volunteers
Promotion: Getting the right message across

4. Recording experiences and building on success
Reporting: Measuring your impact and sharing your story
Social media: Getting your online presence right
Gathering photos: Saying it with pictures

Morgan PhillipsComment