Anna Cowen

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= FLOW Project Lead, Meshfield Co-founder, Architect, Urbanist, Facilitator


Anna is a social change practitioner, architect and urbanist with more than twenty years of experience in regenerative and participatory design, strategy and development. She advocates an abundance based bio-regional, whole systems design approach that focuses on crafting symbiotic relationships between the built environment, local eco-systems and cultures and their requisite provisioning systems integrating Permaculture, Bio-mimicry and cradle-to-cradle thinking. She seeks to fundamentally “change the way we make things”, supporting a shift towards globally connected yet localised, circular economies, with a strong focus on growing the commons. Her approach to fostering localisation includes participatory mapping and storytelling processes that are informed by developmental psychology, integral, resilience and complexity theory.

Anna works with her creative partner, John Ziniades, to design and facilitate cross-sectoral, multi-stakeholder large scale systems change processes that integrate system dynamics modeling with participatory, interactive methods that engage personal growth, cultural dynamics and behaviour change at multiple scales. Recent work includes co-leading a strategic process for the World Green Building Council to identify the leverage points that could unlock rapid change towards the global proliferation of a regenerative, life-enhancing built environment (2014), as well as co-designing and co-facilitating the Bergrivier region based African Climate and Development Initiative (ACDI) Climate Knowledge Network’s (CKN) U Process through 2012/2013. She was also part of the core team that prepared a 30 year Integrated Sustainable Development Plan (ISDP) for the towns of Kokstad and Franklin in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa, and she conceptualized and led the implementation of the ISDP linked Green Ambassadors Programme, an innovative youth leadership programme that combined participatory planning, asset mapping, citizen video journalism and sustainability awareness (2012).

Anna graduated from the University of Cape Town (UCT) with a BArch in 1994 and founded her own architectural practice in 1995, at times working either in partnership or association. Her work has been commended with a number of national and international awards and prizes. She taught architectural design at UCT for an eight-year period and completed an MPhil in Sustainable Settlement in 2003, focusing on public participation processes and the production of public space. She is also a trained Holacracy facilitator.