Do We Need Social Artists?

Social Learning Space

How do we nurture social learning spaces for people keen to make an impact in the informal spaces where individuals find meaning in movement?

Greg Spencer – Do We Need Social Artists – March 2020

Etienne Wenger-Trayner’s “social artists” are those who have a big influence on the social dynamics of informal spaces where individuals find new ways of engaging with the world. They are the people who shape the landscapes we interact within – including in our clubs!

My Social Artists in Coach Development piece latches onto what Etienne has to say about social learning spaces. I focus on the commitments we make to one another in these spaces… and on the accountability which can develop within them.


Sharp Edge

I liken horizontal accountability to what might develop if a group of us go hill walking together.



we may go as friends, but a degree of deference may be required where one person’s prior experience and wealth of expertise confers an inescapably greater Duty of Care. Meeting as peers (as fellow participants, irrespective of role title) still leaves ample room for respect and deference, it’s just that the mechanisms are more complex.  

Greg Spencer – Connected Coaches Blog – March 2020

Managing Pragmatic Activists: Herding Cats?

My work on Enriching Lives – On and Around the Water ties in with Etienne Wenger-Trayner’s work through the focus on the Pragmatic Activist. That’s a focus on the individuals who foster the development of clubs and paddling networks as both new and existing social learning spaces.


As I move forward with my work, I expect to build on the idea around horizontal accountability – especially once the authors release their (hugely impressive) Learning to Make a Difference: Value Creation in Social Learning Spaces.


Update – July 2020: my take on the Social Artist concept is now embedded within my Living with Uncertainty presentation – which also expands on horizontal accountability.