"Thrivable culture"



I’m interested to support the Culture strand of Edgeryders by sharing work I’ve been doing on ‘thrivable culture’ - or how cultural organisations and creative practitioners can help people, communities and places thrive. I’ve developed a framework for planning and evaluating projects that is inspired by Theory of Change, but which is more integrated, and acknowledges the importance of creating the conditions for thriving rather than always/only seeking measurable impacts. A draft version can be seen on this link.https://www.dropbox.com/s/jyxjzlq5mhspuok/new%20thrivability%20framework%20.pptx?dl=0

Feedback on its content and applicability would be really welcome. I am aware that what this really needs is for some application of graphic design skills, so that all the diagrams are effective and consistent. We’re going to be advertising for a paid internship very soon to carry out such work.



Really great to hear back from you. How is Meg?

I skimmed your slides. They seem solid, but they do imply an audience that knows well the concepts you are dealing with (I don’t). It can get cryptic:

It treats all categories as “apples” when they might be “apples and oranges”.

I read this several times and still have no idea what it means.

But maybe this is just me coming from left field. Is this how art orgs think?



I’m fine and Meg is doing very well at a specialist creative school, thank you!

Thanks for your feedback Alberto. I think the mystification might be a combination of dense concepts, English colloquialisms, use of terms used in UK cultural and public sector, poor information design, and the fact that I’m not talking it through with you in person and using stories to explain it. It needs an animated video, or something like that. Apples and Oranges is about category errors: you can’t make the same extrapolations from two different types of thing. These models will be better designed and explained over the summer, but I wanted to share for feedback from anyone interested.


Hm, how do you see us collaborating?

Thanks for allowing us a sneek peek!

I think the many visuals definitely need a person to walk you through them in live mode, but also a lot more would be explained if the first slide gives more context: growth, wellbeing and evaluating change are very big concepts, and all in a couple of lines risk not saying a lot i.e. what kind of change and measured where? in communities? in local initiatives? in policy? and for whom?

Other than that, I also could use references - as in which Theory of Change? there are so many paradigms nowadays (albeit overlapping) that it usually helps if one could track back the concept of thrivability you are using to potentially more familiar references, just to speed up understanding of it.

Finally, with the ER Culture Team, do you have something in mind? Should we skype and see if there could be overlaps? Not sure how much you have read through this recent discussion group, basically we’re on a row these months trying to actively look for opportunities of work, partnerships, funding applications using what Edgeryders have to give - smarts, geographic spread, mobility, and a recent history of working with cities trying to invest strategically in culture (broadly termed). We can either lead or join as partners if someone in our network needs an organisation like ER.


Missed this

Hello Noemi, for some reason I didn’t see your feedback until now. Sorry if that seemed rude. I think I probably shared this without enough preparation or explanation. It worked so well when I ran a workshop with the slides! (By the way, we’re extending from the most basic Theory of Change framework that uses Logic Models to plan and evaluate change. I don’t know any others than this.) I am definitely up for talking about how this (or other dimensions of our work) can be usefully applied to your funding bids. I will have a good read through all the threads, and also catch up with the plans for the big bid in the offing. Thanks again.


Noemi is off grid

@Bridget_McKenzie just to let you know that @Noemi is unlikely to answer you for about 10 days. She is traveling, with limited connectivity. She’s normally very good with this sort of stuff, but you could help her by pointing her to your comment after July 28th.

On another note, we do have different vocabularies! you speak of a Theory of Change (capitalized), which I imagine is some kind of model with its own instruction manual. Am I right? Other people we know (like @ElaMi5 ) use it non-capitalized, as in “What’s your theory of change?” to denote any theory. The purpose of the concept is that you need to have one, and it needs to be coherent with your goals and what you propose to do to achieve them.


Hello Beth, very nice to meet you!

I went through the slides and I think this is something that fits into a bigger picture of efforts - we’re having Harvard opening its first happiness research center for example, and hopefully this tendency will spill over the ways we think about society, projects, economy, and all the stuff basically. I think that such a framework, however abstract and difficult to understand at this point and in this form, would be super useful in the context of evaluating a lot of projects that operate from European funds. This way the donors and the organizations both could better understand if their work contributes to actual positive change and lasting, thriving society. I would love to see that as one of the key ways of evaluating a successful project, instead of just ticking the boxes which have nothing to do with community building and improved life conditions.

Again, if you see us working on it with you, helping figure out where to take it - we’d be happy to do so I believe. And thank you for sharing the idea with us!