As result of 20 years artistic work of Ute Reeh, the Zentrum für Peripherie founded the Academy for Agil Processes, AAP, in Summer 2020. With this tool we provide the large systems (education, administration, research, etc.) with a flexible infrastructure that can initiate social change and cohesion on the basis of the everyday experience realm. In this sense, the academy makes unexpected, constructive and concrete solutions conceivable and possible – especially those that neither specialists nor laypeople can achieve alone. The Academy for Agile Processes ensures the general availability of the methods developed through an interplay of artistic and scientific analysis.
In this sense, a core area of the AAP is the ‘distillation’ of generally understandable and available tools to support open-ended work, to promote the creation of participatory structures and to make them available.
The academy ‘docks’ with external systems. It sees itself as a temporary structural extension. We provide support on two levels that go hand in hand: First, the focus is on concrete, empirical work on the ground. This work directly addresses the needs or “creaking” areas, initiates and accompanies solution processes. These are accompanied scientifically and artistically, analyzed and the generated findings and derived procedures are then made generally available. In theory and practice, the AAP draws on a broad and experience-guided methodological expertise, which spans a wide range between Work on site and analysis.
The academy generates innovation quite by accident. Quasi incidentally.
The starting point are procedures developed by Ute Reeh since the 1990s. They turn seemingly unsolvable problems into the engine of joint projects. In this way, very concrete solutions and often socially relevant and transferable innovations always emerge.
A changed perspective and an open-ended process
Integrative method of collective creative processes
The main framework parameters of the integrative form of collective creative processes are A) the procedural integration of ‘below’ and ‘above’ (as synonyms of administrative or social levels) in decisive project stages, which differs from the classical down-top method in that B) those directly affected by a project are directly involved in both the development and the creation process. Participation is not based on consultation alone, but on active participation. The people concerned are not integrated into processes initiated and planned by external bodies, rather the opposite: the experts and financial backers are sought out and brought in at the appropriate time. The methodological label in the initial phase of all subprojects is down → top; only in a later step does down + top apply. In each project, a sensible balance must be found in the cooperation between ‘down’ and ‘up’.
An elementary feature is the detection and admission of the different perspectives, longings and wishes of the participants, which are always the starting point for individual subprojects. In each project phase, they set the first step. That is, a space is created in which ideas and drafts, in all their idealism or inadequacy, are created and collected without prejudice or constraint. Only then are experts consulted. Through mutual exchange, a collective synthesis of the best thoughts is achieved and progressive realization is sought. During this process it becomes apparent that it is precisely in a hierarchy-free collaboration that results of high value emerge. The participants become aware that the results exceed classical ways/solutions in their complexity and quality. This has been impressively demonstrated by previous projects of this kind.
It is essential that such a project contains as many elements as possible, in which the people concerned themselves participate creatively and in the implementation. The joint project can become one’s own, because it contains one’s own ideas and one’s own work, and because emotional and formal aspects of the result are linked.
A positive side effect is the incidental, almost unnoticed ‘learning’, because in the project a wide variety of procedures, or actions of a craft nature (collecting ideas, perceiving qualities, making decisions, cooking, photographing, building, sawing, shaping, model making) are carried out seriously and with dedication in cooperation with professionals. The experiences acquired through application are lasting and often more self-evident and easier to learn than imparted knowledge. Social skills such as communication, organization, planning and teamwork are also learned and practiced on the fly in the process.