For a system to change it must first be made visible

The local planning system is a maze of information. Formal documents use industry-specific, technical language, referring to complex planning protocols. Documents refer to documents within other documents, some of which are no longer available or have been updated and filed in different places online, or have broken links which make things difficult to find.

The Collective Commons is a library of place-based knowledge: local information co-created with communities, easily accessible to all their residents. We find out what you want to know and research the details of local and national policies relating to your area. Bringing local knowledge together with public data, the Collective Commons creates new resources of neighbourhood knowledge.

• When you read a planning application, do you understand the technical detail? Can you find the relevant information? Do you know how ‘reserved matters’ can effect the look and feel of housing development? Is the consultation process clear to you?
• When you see traffic works, do you want to know how long the road will be closed, or what they’re doing and why?
• Worried about traffic speed on your street, or air pollution?
• Wonder why the bus routes are being changed or if there are any plans for extra trains?

Creating a systems view of place-based information: inspired by social activism, building on the work of community organisations across the UK

HILARY COTTAM: RADICAL HELP > new ways of organising living and growing that have been developed with communities across Britain. “Audré Lorde famously tells us, ‘that [the] master’s tools will never dismantle the master’s house. They may allow us to temporarily beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change’. In other words, if we want to make deep change in the world, not simply produce ideas, then we need to work in new ways with new questions, new tools, new voices”

Civic Square event, Birmingham: photo thanks to Samanthi Theminimulle