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Year-end Highlight: New Zealand Trainings

by Shalema Wanden-Hannay, Beacon Pathway Inc., and Kait Heacock

This year’s trainings work took Milenko down the West Coast–from Seattle to Ashland, OR to National City, CA–and all the way to Auckland, New Zealand, where he introduced our method for effective and joyful collaboration and welcomed a new group of trainees into our network of engaged, global citizens.

At the invitation of Beacon Pathway, Inc., Milenko taught the Pomegranate Method for three weeks this summer in Auckland. Beacon Pathway is an Incorporated Society committed to research and demonstration projects that show how to make New Zealand’s neighborhoods and homes more adaptable, resilient, and affordable.

In partnership with Auckland Council’s Community Empowerment Unit, Beacon and Milenko ran trainings for council staff to create understanding, inspire, and build capacity to unlock council resources to support community-led placemaking. A number of these staff members also participated in Milenko’s community workshops and will be involved going forward in supporting pilot projects and getting hands-on practical experience to support their training.

“The workshop taught me how to create an environment and structure for meaningful community engagement that shapes and pushes a project forward, rather than derailing it. I will leave with new faith in how opening processes up to the community can be an effective and positive way of developing a project that creates long-term ownership and pride.”–Philippa, workshop participant

Milenko inspired and challenged workshop participants from four Auckland communities to embark on pilot projects using the Pomegranate Method. Participants in Kumeu and Huapai agreed to come together with the support of the Council’s Community Empowerment Team to pilot a local playground project, in what has been described as a “breakthrough” for this group. Similarly, inspired people from Avondale and Whangaparoa want to develop pilot projects focused on the Avondale town center and outside the library at the Whangaparoa town center. In Glen Innes, a community in the midst of change, the challenge is to bring together funding and collaborative partnerships to support a Pomegranate pilot project around Eastview Park.

“I think the best thing I came away with was an underlying value of good facilitation, i.e., to go into a meeting with a view to try and capture all ideas as possibilities and trying to be as inclusive as possible.”–Chris, workshop participant

These participants became part of a “Fellows Network” across New Zealand through which they can share their experiences, learn from others, and maintain an ongoing relationship with Milenko and the Pomegranate Center.