Growing with the Flow | Anna Cowen and John Ziniades

What does it look like to put community participation at the center of sustainable development? Anna Cowen and John Ziniades talk through FLOW, a project that empowered underemployed youth in South Africa to map their community’s needs and assets, connect them through complimentary currencies, and unleash their creative power. (29m 00s)

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What is Flow?

“The FLOW project is a two-year long, University of Cape Town African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) research project that took place in two South African municipalities – the Greater Kokstad Municipality in KwaZuluNatal, and the Bergrivier Municipality in the Western Cape, from August 2014 – September 2016. The project engaged out-of-work, out-of-school local youth – the FLOW Ambassadors – to build both individual and community capacity to thrive and innovate in the face of the growing challenges of climate change, resource depletion and inequality. Key activities included asset mapping, local storytelling on mobile phones, personal development, local government engagement and the introduction of two community currencies.”

Anna’s Bio

Anna is an architect and urbanist by training, and has spent over two decades working in social change, with a focus on regenerative and participatory design, strategy and development. She uses a whole systems design approach to craft symbiotic relationships between the built environment, local eco-systems and cultures. Anna and her creative partner John Ziniades make up the Meshfield duo that originated and facilitated the FLOW programme.

John’s Bio

John is an electrical engineer by training, and listed his first Internet company on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange when he was 28 years old. With two decades and several tech start-ups behind him, he turned his business acumen to see how the technology and innovation lessons from Silicon Valley, might be applied to tackle society’s tough development and environmental challenges. He’s the currency strategist and resident ‘hacker’ on the team.

Get access to Flow’s research and methodology