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Update on our public strategic planning session

We recently held a public session in Melbourne to present some of our strategic plan work so far and invite feedback. It was a productive session, led by strategic planning facilitator Sarah Davis, that sparked welcome debate and critical comment. We spent the evening with a mixed crowd - from complete newcomers to one of our founding members. Thank you to everyone who attended: your input is of enormous value to us in determining our future direction as an organisation. It was fantastic for our core team of eight to hear from some voices outside the room after working away in isolation for the past few months!

We took away some key questions from the night that we will continue to explore as a team, and would like to share these with you below:

 - Is our focus local or international, or both, and to what extent? Does this need to be reflected in a particular goal, or can it underpin/inform our approach generally?

- Does conflict/war need to be directly flagged somewhere in our goals? This was definitely a key motivating factor for the formation of A4P (pre-declaration of war on Iraq), but is something that has not come through strongly in our strategic planning discussions to date. This might be partly because our core group is based in Melbourne, Australia, where conflict is removed from our personal life experiences. Do we need to reintroduce as specific goal on this subject?

- Do our current goals take enough of a political position? (e.g. affordable housing for low income earners is very broad - and could mean a number of things. Do we need to drill down further?)   

- Are the words we're using clear and going to be broadly understood in the same way? 'Self-sufficiency' was noted as one term with possible negative connotations of exclusion. Are there any other problematic terms that need further definition or an alternative?


The questions above emerged from discussion of our draft goals. We presented these on the night, then split into groups and asked participants to respond to the goals with their ideas for potential partners and action ideas, broadly under the following key areas:

a. Partnerships (partnering with other organisations to lobby for change on issues of concern to our members)
b. Research
c. Design

Below is an overview of the goals and responses to them:

1. Quality affordable housing for people on low incomes

2. Greater self-sufficiency and coexistence with urban and natural environments

3. Civic spaces and services that are accessible with human powered and public transport options

What's in a name?

There's been some reflection on our name as part of this process. We've wondered if the word 'Architects' has created a barrier to participation for people who don't directly identify with the profession. The intent was always to be an inclusive organisation, with a focus on the built environment and social justice. That means not only architects, but engineers, planners, urban designers, artists, landscape architects, builders, as well as anyone who inhabits a built environment - in other words, everyone! We put a possible name change on the agenda and found the room was split evenly between 'keep' and 'change'. So the jury's still out.

What do you think? We'd love to hear from you!

Get involved

We will be holding fortnightly meetings in Melbourne on Tuesdays and Saturdays in June and July, with a view to wrapping up the plan towards the end of July. If you'd like to contribute, now's the time! Please email for more details on session dates and times, or to find out how you can contribute remotely if you're not in Melbourne.

Thank you!

Thanks to Katherine, Targol, Akemi, Anne Claire, Nicole, Dina and Pauline for running the night - and to the fabulous Sarah Davis for facilitating!


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