The recent Connected Communities conference in Norwich was an opportunity for the Leapfrog team to meet some of the other people involved in the connected communities research strand and also to reflect on the Leapfrog project in the gorgeous grounds of the University of East Anglia. The focus of the conference was the research component of connected communities. This is a significant challenge — as one of the presenters said, ‘we can appear to be doing excellent engagement but my colleagues sometimes ask, where is the research’. This sentiment was echoed by Sue Hanshaw, Head of Creative Arts and Digital Humanities at Arts and Humanities Research Council, presenting at the event. We used this conference as a platform to discuss our overarching research agenda and how the interplay between theory and practice contributed to these overarching goals, as well as offering tangible benefits to our collaborating partners. In this sense Leapfrog follows the classic participatory action research model of iterative cycles of planning, action and reflection. The outcomes of these ongoing, reflective processes are both addressing the problems identified by our partners and separately resulting in research outcomes, new theory, journal papers, books and so on. The paper we presented in Norwich, Leapfrog and Other Actions Moving Between Design Theory and Practice, (abstract and presentation available to download here) described the roots of the project in Post-Structuralist philosophy. Without expanding on this too much this philosophical position is unified by a suspicion of hierarchies, especially in hierarchical position that are assumed to be ‘obvious and natural’. In practical terms this means questioning whether politicians (or even designers) should assume a position of power over others. This challenge is not with the aim of reversing this binary, of putting citizens or lay-people in charge but rather in looking for new ways to work together that do not depend on this kind of binary power relationship. It was interesting to see in the Connected Communities conference an inverse snobbery where academic research activities, writing journal papers, building theory and so on, were rather looked down on. This represents a binary reversal that we want to avoid in Leapfrog. We are interested in looking for new ways to go beyond this binary, developing new ways of working together and as a result allowing more and more varied people to have a greater contribution in society. In essence Leapfrog is dedicated to designing tools and processes that facilitate these new collaborative relationships. This approach builds on 20 years of research and a number of high-profile projects. Practically the presentation shows a range of activities, from small scale, such as helping people vote on resource allocation openly but still anonymously (using green light as a key interaction mechanism), to a large scale co-design project where 2,000 participants jointly developed a new plan for a city center area that determined how it will be developed for at least the next 10 years. These are described in detail in the book Open Design and Innovation: Facilitating Creativity in Everyone. While these approaches have proved to be extremely effective there is a limit to their scalability — often they need a significant investment in terms of facilitators or material resources, In Leapfrog we are building new tools and approaches that can be used without large resource implications but rather draw out the skills and aptitudes of people looking to undertake collaboration or creative engagement. The project’s resources and stories presented on this website are all working towards this aim.