Title of ArticleCreating healthful cultures through Critical Creativity
Type of ArticleFeature Article
Author/sAngie Titchen
ReferenceVolume 11, Issue 2, Article 2
Date of PublicationNovember 2021
KeywordsActivism, community-based transformation, critical creativity, healthful cultures, human health, person-centred community engagement, planetary health

During Covid lockdown in 2021, I was invited to offer a masterclass to masters students at Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh:

‘In the leadership module we have a masterclass, groupwork, study time and a plenary that ties together. We even have a book club!!! The aim is to be generic, not nursing/health focused. The learners make space to consider application in their own areas/specialisms.

‘We were wondering if you would like to/could do a masterclass within the strand of healthfulness. We really value your storytelling and know you are really passionate about healthfulness from an ecological perspective. We would love it if you could draw on your experiences of politics, environment… The more creative the better.

‘We would want learners to consider their role in creating healthful cultures and ways that they might go about it.’

How could I resist, given my decades-long passion for transformational practice development and inquiry within a critical creativity landscape in health and social care? In my retirement, I have continued to work successfully in this way in a variety of contexts, including political activism. I responded:

‘I would love to show how healthful cultures can be created, with stories from my person-centred community engagement work in creating a neighbourhood plan [for 21st century local housing development] and campaigning for positive personal and community political responses to the climate and ecological emergency. Stories that show up something of how conditions can be created to enable the ecology of human flourishing to be embodied in action. Also, how I am seeing the stirrings of transformative change in local politics that have previously been very traditional in the way they work with people.’

This article is based on that webinar, because students not only enjoyed it, but we heard that some were also able to transfer the learning to their different professional contexts. Therefore, for this paper, I repurposed and elaborated the material for a wider audience.

Health and social care services are increasingly offered in new ways in the community and I imagine more health and social care professionals will be setting up innovative ways of working. I hope, therefore, that sharing my experience of creating cultures where everyone flourishes by doing things differently, as well as critically and creatively with the whole self, will be helpful. I will share four stories of how I do that in a variety of contexts and show you, through images and metaphors, how I have gone about that, first in health and social care but primarily for now in political and campaigning contexts. Through the stories, I will show you what it takes as a person to create healthful cultures. Woven through the article is an introduction to critical creativity and its three mandalas. They are there for you to look at with soft eyes/letting the words wash over you – without digging into meaning at this point. My hope is that you begin to get a sense of where the mandalas fit into the stories and, if you so choose, into your own stories and practice. The parts of the mandalas are italicised in the text as they are mentioned.


This article contains a commentary by Clare Cable and a response from the author. As this is a feature article, with the permission of the author and reviewer, post-review we have broken the blind nature of the review process to enable us to include the reviewer’s comments and a response from the author.

This article by Angie Titchen is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial 3.0 License.

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