We're interested in real empowerment - a type of empowerment that is defined and created from the grass roots of society and which supports real change.
We work with community organisations to define exactly what this means and how it can be achieved. Often, this means creating a strategy or plan that identifies what it is that a community requires to address social and cultural needs and what strengths and assets are available from which to do so. To develop this strategy, we can design creative ways of engaging with the people who should be involved, whether that’s within an organisation, a community or sector. We also seek to connect these strategies, where appropriate, with the ways that government and private sector operate. Sometimes there is a direct fit, other times there isn't, but regardless, we feel that communities organising themselves based on local strengths and needs rather than merely reacting to the current priorities of government and private sectors creates opportunities for more empowering outcomes.
Along the way we like to work with people to create opportunities for learning, sharing and celebration. Whether this is through arts workshops, mentoring programs, establishing online communities, producing a festival or designing a planning process, we seek the broadest relevant inclusion and use methods that aim to create spaces that foster collaboration and acceptance.
Exploring, creating and testing new ways of working together applies not only to our work with communities but also to the way we operate our organisation. We always welcome ideas about how we can work with others or support others work through Ferment Collaborate.
Why Sri Lanka?
Ferment Collaborate's Venesa Matram Program (venesa means 'change' in Sinhala) works with arts, cultural and change organisations in Sri Lanka to support collaboration, capacity strengthening and new opportunities for creative community building. As Sri Lanka emerges from civil war and natural disaster, facing a complex range of social, cultural, economic and environmental issues, we want to support people who are actively working to promote grass roots approaches to community building and connecting people.
Our projects are linked by a focus on supporting creative approaches to community building and arts practice. Our approach is underpinned by ‘Three E’s’ -expression, education and enterprise, with elements of these three areas incorporated into the way we communicate, design and facilitate projects and build relationships with local people. These three areas of focus have emerged through 12 months of engagement with Sri Lankan artists, cultural workers, community builders, small business owners and activists.
Born in Australia but with family originating from Sri Lanka, Steph Vajda, Ferment Collaborate Director, began this work in 2010 and continues to work with local agencies to make positive change possible.
Ferment Collaborate (FC) has grown from a persistent desire to meaningfully connect people's cultural practices with the way governance, planning and community organising take place. Much like you, we have experienced (if not facilitated) participatory events or activities, intended to create access to the way government makes decisions. Often these events can feel so detached from everyday life, from what we know of our local people and cultures, from practical, meaningful ways to create safer, connected, resourced communities with a strong sense of identity and a real sense of place.
We collaboratively design approaches to community building, such as organisational and planning systems, participatory arts projects or creating spaces for dialogue, exchange and showcasing, with a focus on strengthening the capacity of community organisations. FC aims to build practical connections between systems of governance and decision making and the strengths and cultural practices of a community.
Ferment Collaborate is a not for profit organisation that works with community agencies to design creative approaches to development, management and change. Our approach is focused on collaboratively designing processes that increase people's ability to actively participate in their community, in the way decisions are made by local government and that strengthen the capacity of local change makers and facilitators to continue delivering these processes beyond our involvement.
Our fundraising campaigns are designed to source project funding to develop, implement and evaluate some of our ideas through collaborative projects with community agencies. Based in Australia but operating internationally, we are presently developing a range of projects to support participatory arts, cultural planning and social change facilitators in Australia and Sri Lanka. FC’s work in Sri Lanka is delivered with 90% of funding sourced through donations reaching Sri Lankan agencies, individuals and project delivery. and does not provide income or salaries for non-Sri Lankan people.
When you support our work you can choose what level of involvement you are interested in - from donating money to being actively involved in shaping the work we do.