The WPI Team speaking with programme participants at the Vygieskraal Stadium.

The WPI Team speaking with programme participants at the Vygieskraal Stadium.

Shared Action Learning

The Cape Town Project Centre (CTPC) utilises the concept of Shared Action Learning (SAL) to design projects with the community in mind. SAL encourages project teams to partner with local residents to develop sustainable solutions to complex community challenges (Jiusto, Hersh, & Taylor, 2015). SAL involves the community in the project by engaging the residents and co-researchers in planning and implementation. This approach also aims to ensure the sustainability of the initiative after the team leaves Cape Town. This project utilised several strategies to accomplish these goals, including: creating connections with co-researchers and locals, maintaining flexibility and responding to community feedback as the project changed and goals evolved, observing community responses to our proposed actions, recording project outcomes, and reflecting on observations and findings. Implementing the key strategies of SAL allowed the team to develop a sustainable community initiative, while simultaneously achieving the overarching goal of providing students with the opportunity to participate in a unique learning environment, allowing them to gain experience working within different cultural settings.

To learn more about Shared Action Learning and how it relates to CTPC Projects, click here.

Planning for Sustainability

A strategy to plan for sustainability that is commonly used by CTPC teams is one devised by the Asset-Based Community Development (ABCD) Institute, based out of Northwestern University. This approach involves putting the “building [of] community capacity” at the heart of all work completed (Asset-Based Community Development Institute, 2015). The ABCD model also involves engaging directly with community groups to support development efforts, and holds the belief that partnering with community residents “to conduct research that helps prepare them to achieve their own community building objectives” is the most successful method (Asset-Based Community Development Institute, 2015). This model of community development has proven to be effective in numerous CTPC projects over the past few years.

The 2011 Maitland Garden Village Team applied the ABCD approach to help Maitland Garden Village overcome development challenges, choosing to employ ABCD specifically because “it focuses on a community’s strengths as opposed to their weaknesses” (Baker, Karsky, Kaufman, Labois-Sonniere, & Sarapas, 2015). The 2014 Flamingo Team also utilised the ABCD approach and cited that it is “important to begin the development process by planning alongside local leaders with the community assets in mind” (Brousseau, DiTroia, Ibelle, Olson, & Monerroso, 2015). The Flamingo Team focused on community-driven work as they designed and built the Little Paradise crèche in Flamingo Heights, formerly known as Flamingo Crescent, and noted that “ABCD relies on contextual observations of positive qualities in a community” (Brousseau et al., 2015). This positive, opportunistic outlook on challenges highlighted through the ABCD approach will serve as a reminder to emphasise the strengths of the community and to generate sustainable plans.

While the 2010 ECD Team in Monwabisi Park did not use the ABCD approach specifically, they did successfully aid in developing an Emthonjeni Outreach Programme “to create more opportunities for children in the informal settlement to participate in ECD activities” (Barbour, Bell, Gottshall, & Sparrell, 2015). This programme was successful for a multitude of reasons, including the fact that the team consulted residents in neighbouring communities before completing the design of the programme in order to incorporate their ideas as well. Considering the opinions of those who might not reside within the target community, but who could also utilise the programmes, is another fundamental aspect of developing sustainable outreach plans.