Provide tools for the actors

Providing tools to the actors of the territories’ transition is:

  • a) enabling them to participate in learning communities where progress is made together by collectively learning from each other’s experiences;
  • b) to be nourished by the experience of other territories in the most varied fields, by letting ourselves be surprised by the way the atlas takes us into fields that we had not thought of;
  • c) to clarify one’s own thinking by putting into words the lessons of one’s own action;
  • d) open up new perspectives by renewing the way we look at reality;
  • e) to have tools for dialogue between actors in the same territory;
  • f) to train themselves individually and collectively.

Building a Learning Community

What is a learning community? What is a learning community?

How do we move from the collective to the community and from the fleeting idea of exchanging experiences to the construction of a common?

What is a community? From an anthropological point of view, it is characterized by two fundamental components:

  • the first: one shares a certain number of values. Traditional communities are often defined by a common symbolic ancestor or by a cultural model. In a community of activist practitioners, what we share is what we carry in common.
  • the second: reciprocity. What defines a community in law is that each member is accountable for its impact on others. Every community is defined by an idea of reciprocity.

Thus, moving from a collective to a community, and therefore to a learning community, means sharing things that are strong enough to devote time to others in a certain way; time that also benefits everyone.

And what does this community produce? a common, that is to say, something that needs everyone to be produced and to be reproduced and that will benefit everyone . In order to produce and manage a commons, we must agree on its governance: rules for exercising power - how we are going to animate this learning community, who will be able to take decisions, etc.; rules for contributing to the community; rules for the right to use the commons. It is a long-term dynamic.

See also Stakes, place, methods and challenges of experience capitalization.

The goals!

We’re getting together to do what? What’s the point? Here are four that are, depending on the learning communities, more or less important:

  • The first goal is to be more relevant to ourselves. The first goal is to be more relevant in what you do. The first, often unsuspected, is the fact that having had to put one’s experience into form and into words transforms one’s relationship to reality. Becoming more relevant means first of all distancing oneself from one’s own action, moving from the posture of an actor to that of a thinking actor. Then, it is to discover, through contact with others, the structural elements of one’s own action and thus be better able to identify, among the difficulties one encounters, for example, those that are common to all and what is more circumstantial that can be circumvented.
  • Second goal, be more credible. It is absolutely fundamental to build a legitimacy of speech and this legitimacy of speech comes from the fact that you are fed by a collective, that you are the holder of a knowledge and a recognized knowledge. This second effect is often neglected but is crucial: the legitimacy of speech.
  • Third goal, unite to remove blockages. Territorial action of any kind, or any other action, comes up against methods of regulation, financing, exercise of power, etc., which can constitute blockages that make it difficult or impossible to carry out a truly relevant action. When a community is able to argue strongly on the fact that these blockages are structural, its power of interpellation becomes very strong.
  • The fourth goal is the means of changing scale with the two possible mechanisms of change of scale: "the snowball"; generalization, made possible because we have been able to build together a knowledge that can be directly transmitted and used by others.

The methods

The mediation cycle. Building a learning community means agreeing to go through a certain number of stages: the collection of experience, the capitalisation of experience, the dissemination of experience and its implementation in other places.

  • The first, the collection of experience, is paradoxically the most difficult. It is a question of transforming an experience into a story that can be transferred to others. This is why any learning community needs a resource website with a very strict format for presenting experiences. It must be possible to identify the major questions that will arise. In starting a learning community, one should not underestimate the time, energy and often the reluctance to tell stories. See also The capitalization of experiences, a stage in the constitution of a learning community.
  • the next step, the diffusion of experiments. The first medium, and the reason why it was developed within CITEGO, is a resource site; an accessible place for this work. In our philosophy, it is a site accessible to the public, but some learning communities may decide to make it a private commons accessible only to community members.
  • the last step, the mode of implementation of the guiding principles, with two outlets: training; public policy development. On this second one, a national or regional policy only makes sense if it can be applied to a very wide variety of contexts; so any standardising policy is unsuited to this diversity. What is formulated at the policy level are guiding principles, not uniform solutions, leaving it to the level below to implement these guiding principles to the best of each context.

At the service of learning communities, we have developed four methods and tools:

  • the experience sheet and how to write it;
  • the resource website which must be rigorously organized and indexed and which is based on a series of databases, in particular the experience records;
  • the method of collective construction of the guiding principles; for this we have developed free software, Desmodo, desmodo means in Greek "the links", because we are basically looking for the links, the common points between the experiences and the important thing is that everyone feels associated with this identification;
  • fourth tool, developed more recently, the relational atlas. It responds to one of the major problems faced by learning communities and resource sites: designating what we are talking about, so that it can be found and, above all, visualize the links between everything we are talking about. If we want to manage complexity, we must first be able to represent it.

Collect and compare innovative practices

CITEGO supports the capitalisation of experience around innovative practices. Neither evaluation nor documentation, the capitalisation aims to enable the bearers of the experience :

  • to learn from what they do/have done by formalising it,
  • to compare this experience with the viewpoint and that of one’s peers in order to identify what can be useful to others,
  • to generate new knowledge.

Support for the capitalization of experience is aimed in particular at the production of thematic files that will enrich the documentary collection. The passage through the written word is in itself a stage in the reflexivity process for the actors, to enable them to grasp what was at stake in their experience, to understand the trajectory of change and to identify the guiding principles of these experiences.

CITEGO provides, depending on the case, methodological support, an external view, an innovative view, a contradiction (to shake up and deepen the reflections) or editorial support. The aim is to identify guiding principles, common to the experiences, despite or because of the diversity of contexts, from the confrontation between the cases.

One of the instruments of this capitalization is the mirror committee, which brings together diverse expertise throughout the production process to facilitate questioning and taking a step back.

Valuing the experience

The Documentary collection is a showcase of the wealth of experience acquired on various issues relating to the transition of territories and governance.It can be seen as a living, interactive and updated dictionary, which makes it possible to bring in content/knowledge, to link it to other subjects and to create new content.

As an aggregator and scheduler of the diversity and richness of available documentary resources, it visually and technically puts into practice the decompartmentalization. All the documents made available are indexed by the relational atlas. As a digital tool for semantic mapping, the relational atlas enables the actors, themes and means of action to be "pulled together".

The partnerships developed around the capitalization of experience make it possible to produce content that can enrich the entries in the atlas and thus the documentary collection.

Participating in the development of knowledge while being as far upstream as possible in its production, to facilitate its indexing and linkage to the atlas is a challenge for CITEGO.

Representing and managing territories differently; putting their actors in dialogue

The Relational Atlas and its free software are available to local actors to overcome compartmentalization, learn from international experience, facilitate exchange between public and private actors in a territory. To do this, the starting point is a shared issue, such as the development of local agri-food systems. We invite each actor to say what this issue is linked to for him or her and we compare these different points of view. Then we look at the links proposed by the relational atlas. They are certainly less abundant than those identified locally. By combining the two we can draw the "local map" of the links of local agri-food systems. Then we ask ourselves what we can learn from the experience of other territories and for this we look for experience records (including in this example distance learning) that deal with the different topics related to the issue of local agri-food systems, so as to feed the multi-actor reflection at the local level.

Citego does not have the human resources to directly support this type of dialogue between actors but is ready to technically train the facilitators of a territory to enable them to conduct this type of dialogue.

Ongoing Training

CITEGO is developing training mechanisms, including open and massive online conferences (CLOM/MOOC) with the aim of building learning communities and developing permanent collective learning capacities.

The transfer to the collective of the knowledge created by the processes of capitalization and of the "relations" between this knowledge and other works (relations made perceptible in the documentary collection by the relational atlas) is an essential stage in the mediation cycle, with a view to creating learning communities.

All the training courses - MOOC here