Having worked in Šilainiai neighbourhood for the past three years I have had a chance to study the community needs from the ‘ground level’. In 2018 I spent some time to concentrate on those. It is clear that most of the people I spoke or worked with would like to see Šilainiai as an active, healthy neighbourhood with the supportive community. One of the measures that I believe needs to be implemented in order to reach this vision is to establish a
Community Centre, that aims to provide space for creativity, learning and meaningful leisure in the neighbourhood, which would improve Šilainiai residents’ mental and physical health and wellbeing.
I wrote a draft vision of the Centre and this has become one of my work areas in 2019.
Vision of Šilainiai Creative Community Centre
Place: Šilainiai Creative Community Centre (Centre) needs to be in Šilainiai microdistrict, close to frequent public transport routes for easy access. There needs to be a safe, well lit route to reach the centre from the public transport stop (pedestrian crossings).
Access: The Centre needs to have easy access for community members with different accessibility needs (wheelchairs, pushchairs).
Surroundings: The Centre needs to have a considerable open green space that is well maintained and safe for children (fence around the perimeter). It can be used for different outdoor activities.
Inside: The Centre needs to be safe for children: no easily accessible sharp objects, child safe furniture. Easy access to bathroom (disability friendly, child changing mat).
Feel: The Centre needs to feel like home, rather than a gallery, museum or other institution. Visitors must feel able to make a cup if tea and feel relaxed. Non-intimidating, friendly environment is essential.
Financial sustainability: the centre needs to provide high quality free and paid services in order to sustain itself. Employing sustainable financial model is essential.
Environmental sustainability strategies need to be employed in as many areas as possible, including electricity, water, waste disposal, building materials, furniture (renewed), re-used materials and second hand items.
Patronage – Centre needs to establish and maintain relationships with its patrons and sponsors who share the same values (important to have a clear ethics code).
Partnerships: Centre needs to maintain strong partnerships with local NGO’s, schools, kindergartens, clubs and other formal and informal community groups and organisations who share the same values.
Activities: The Centre needs to have a dedicated activities programme for different community groups, paying special attention to seniors, families with young children and teenagers. Ideally, the programme needs to be co-created with these community groups, regularly reviewed and be flexible for change.
Volunteering and community participation: different modes of participation needs to be established in the centre, encouraging active participation in all stages of the Centre: Centre conception, development, running the centre, programming activities, etc. Volunteering is the key to the Centre and needs to be well managed.
Empowerment of local community members.
International networks: The Centre needs to be connected and actively participate in international networks’ knowledge exchange.
Learning: Sharing of knowledge and life long learning needs to be at the core of the programming. Non-formal, informal as well as practice based learning methods encouraged. Centre staff and volunteers should commit to continuous personal and professional development and seek both local and international opportunities.
Openness: The Centre needs to be open and non-discriminative.
Transparency: There needs to be clear communication about the work at the Centre.
Target group: main target group is the residents of Šilainiai neighbourhood.
2018 work has been made possible by the Lithuanian Ministry of Culture artist stipend. Thank you.