Maintaining the Connections that Sustain Community

By:
Prof. Patricia Gillard
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In 2004, a group of women singers from Canberra, Australia produced a major work called 'Websong' and presented it to an international audience in Bulgaria. This paper presents results from an ethnographic study of their production processes, including use of the Web to communicate and create. Websong uses dance, ritual and singing to enact a cycle of cataclysm, lament and renewal. As with all their work, Chorus chose to manage their work without an appointed director so that each member effectively took a governance role. This necessitates a high degree of reflexivity on the part of the group as a whole, requiring them to manage and sustain the necessary threads of connection, on various levels; creatively, organizationally, philosophically, socially.

Their work is discussed through considering Chorus as a Community of Practice and using Gregory Bateson’s understanding of reflexivity as a prime characteristic of self sustaining systems, both natural and cultural. From this perspective we see that the threads of connection so valued by members of chorus are characteristic of all sustainable living systems. The close analysis of Chorus working together reveals processes that can be applied to support sustainability for communities and possibly to enrich the discourses about connection between human and environmental sustainability.


Keywords: Ethnography, Communities of Practice, Sustainable Communities, Reflexivity, The Web
Stream: Social Sustainability
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
Paper: Maintaining the Connections that Sustain Community


Prof. Patricia Gillard

Prof of eBusiness, Newcastle Business School, University of Newcastle
Australia

Patricia Gillard holds the inaugural Chair of Communication at the University of Newcastle, Australia. She is an experienced researcher of audiences and users for broadcast and online media as well as telecommunications. Recent consultancy work has included ten projects for the National Library of Australia including two evaluations of the award-winning pictureaustralia.org. Other projects include development of a client-based Access Queensland website, evaluation of the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ Ausstats website and study of information requirements of people with disabilities for the Centre of National Research on Disability and Rehabilitation Medicine, Brisbane.

In 2001, Patricia worked at the National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC on a Fulbright Professional Fellowship, conducting an evaluation of the innovative website, History Wired.org.si.edu. Her most recent work documents processes of collaborative artistic work in one Community of Practice

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