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Holly DoronAssociate | Architect

A writer, a primatologist, a neuroscientist / application developer, a youth leadership facilitator, an architect, a design entrepreneur, a marketing consultant, a mathematics tutor, a mess and complexity consultant, a photographer, a rapper/film maker/music producer, and a business coach walk into a bar (usually Cherry Reds) … it sounds like the start of an over-elaborate joke, but this is a typical start to a ‘Get Sh!t Done Sunday’.

Enrol Yourself is a social enterprise ‘redesigning lifelong learning by harnessing the power of peer groups to multiply individual and collective development.’ This involves curating groups of 12 people from an extraordinary variety of backgrounds and guiding them through a 6-month Learning Marathon. Alongside their day/night jobs, the group pool together their skills, resources and networks to explore their individual Learning Questions.

As a practising architect and a spare-time academic researching into how people learn (their studio culture, interdisciplinary learning, and in context of practice), this is a learning model that immediately appealed to me. I was accepted onto the fifth Learning Marathon peer group, the first in our very own Birmingham, and the first outside of London. The group’s Learning Questions span topics of data, grief, veganism, leadership, safe platforms for black women, creative careers, spirituality, branding, embodiment and more. For my own Question, I chose to steer clear of my usual academic research approach of learning about people learning, and launched myself into exploring:

‘How might early and meaningful community engagement and empowerment become the norm for the built and unbuilt environment, and be sustainable?’

So much of what we do at APEC is underpinned by understanding not only our clients’ needs and visions, but also the surrounding communities’. We have been involved in several projects funded by Big Lottery’s Awards for All, which enables engagement with communities as part of the early briefing and design process. I want to find a self-sufficient model that will encourage more architecture projects to involve people in the way their built environment develops, and to become empowered as part of the process so they can create and nurture their own communities.


Over the next six months, I will be meeting up with my fellow Learning Marathon peers for ‘a facilitated series of activities designed to maximise the collective learning potential’ of our new community; also known as ‘The Path’. The first two months are dedicated to exploring and absorbing. We will be designing our own curriculum, meeting with our own Learning Buddy, giving each other workshops to develop and learn new skills to help us unpick our Questions, and meeting up for ‘Get Sh!t Done Sundays’ to start to answer our Questions.

I will be doing a series of posts about my Learning Marathon Journey. In the meantime, you can find out more about the group and their questions here.