Community Canvas -a community-building framework

At the GDG Pan European Lead Summit, we were also introduced to this really awesome community-building framework. First of all I have to mention that this framework is licensed under the creative commons act, and therefore this is available for interested users to make use of. First of all it is important to define the elements of what makes up a community. Somehow I am used to writing about communities of practice, communities of inquiry and participatory cultures in online media. However this workshop made me go back to the basics of what a community truly means. The basic roots of a community trace back to people – a community is made up of people, for the people, so that people feel a sense of belonging. It is not about the organisation per se, and although the community is defined by the people making it up, the people within it should not be defined by the rules of the community. The scope of the community canvas  is to provide community leaders or organisers with the right tools to create meaningful relationships for the people making up the communities.

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The framework is made up of 3 sections dealing with identity, experience and structure. The identity aims to define the community and the goals that drive it – therefore in this section leaders pose the questions of who the members of the community are and why they are part of this community. It seems rather a part of rhetoric but one of the issues that is grossly overrated is that of communication and it seems rather ironic that in a community that doesn’t function community lacks! Therefore it is important that concepts, ideas, thoughts and visions are clear for everyone. Who are we? What do we want to do together? These are crucial questions to ask. The second section of the framework deals with the experience, and therefore we have to think about how the community per se can add value to each of the individual making it up. As with any other relationship, for a community to work out, there needs to be a relationship of give and take. This means that as leaders we have to ask: what can our community give to its members? This is the part where rules are clearly stated, as are the community member roles. Let’s all give and take value from this relationship. The third section of the framework is all about the structure of the community. Therefore one has to think about the organisation of the community, about funding mechanisms, and about how the data from the community is managed, valued and used. The community canvas is a great tool that is accompanied by a guidebook and a template for questions leading the definition of the community canvas framework.

This is a great tool and one which I am definitely looking forward to use in the future when helping to build more communities!

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