InspirationLab Notes

Lab Notes #4 | w/c 16 October 2017

We love sharing interesting and inspiring ideas we come across. It’s by doing this that all sorts of projects have taken root in Dudley, from SOUP microgranting dinners to the Repair Cafe. We kicked off the week by sharing a link to Buy Nothing Groups:

I loved the descriptions about Buy Nothing Groups on the website: that they use social media to bring to the fore myriad random acts of kindness for neighbours to partake in day-in and day-out. That they are less about stuff and more about community. People set up Buy Nothing Groups on Facebook for the places they live. Does anyone want to start one for Dudley?

Spreading ideas and approaches

On Tuesday I joined Donna Roberts for coffee. She recently joined Dudley CVS’s Children, Young People and Families team and is drawing on work we’ve done together on participation culture. We talked about the advantages of keeping activities open to all, such as some co-working sessions she would like to initiate at the Healthy Hub in Huntingtree Park in Halesowen. We also considered some ways in she could apply design approaches and methods in her work with children and young people. We plan to explore this further. If you’d like to join these conversations, or meet for a coffee to talk through ways that you can draw on some of the approaches we use in CoLab Dudley, do get in touch. Email or message/call me on 07501 722255. Our lab team members are always happy to meet for tea or coffee.

Inspiration Shots

Our lunchtime TED Talk screening was Elif Shafak on the revolutionary power of diverse though. Five of us convened in the Inspiration Lab with hot drinks and gather’s lunchtime specials to enjoy the TED talk and discuss what it sparked for us. You can join us for the next Inspiration Shots lunchtime session on Tuesday 7 November at 12pm.

Festival of Ideas

On Wednesday Lab Team member Jo headed off to the Bristol Festival of Ideas with a mission to bring back inspiration and connections for CoLab Dudley. She shared her reflections in Lab Notes #3

An exploration of many things with Rachel Handley

Meanwhile back in Dudley we had a visitor to the Inspiration Lab from Public Health. Rachel Handley is a Public Health Registrar who will be working with Dudley’s Public Health team for the next year. She had made contact to find out more about what we are working on and discuss some of the challenges we face in Dudley and beyond.

We had an long conversation which took in the evolution of CoLab Dudley, what social labs are (I frequently recommend Zaid Hassan’s fantastic book The Social Labs Revolution which Lab team member Adam first bought our attention to), our inspiration (including Participatory City and Chicago Place Lab) and economics, social justice and wellbeing (Kate Raworth’s Doughnut Economics is another book I highly recommend).

As a result of spending time getting to know what CoLab Dudley is all about, Rachel has offered to teach a Trade School Dudley class and is joining our Systems Practice learning team. This reinforces for me the value of spending substantial amounts of time with people to create meaningful connection. And keeping things  we do open, with options for people to join the journey at the point they find us, or are ready to get involved.

The Place of Kindness

On Wednesday evening Dudley CVS shared CoLab Dudley activities at their AGM and Dudley Volunteer Awards evening. Case studies from CoLab Dudley are featured in the Dudley CVS Review, from stories of Dudley SOUP and Do Fest Dudley to a summary of CoLab Dudley activity to March 2017. Research on kindness was also referenced.

This work on Kinder Communities by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation and Carnegie UK in Scotland resonates with our Detectorism Insights. See the report on The Place of Kindness and check out this video from the project.

Community Cinemas

On Thursday Olivia James from a Community Cinema initiative  run by Black Country Touring came to gather. She shared inspirational stories of Dementia Friendly Cinemas (such as one run by The Dukes Theatre in Lancaster) and Open Cinema who focus on excluded communities. Open Cinema  started life as Open House providing food and fellowship for people experiencing homelessness in Soho who asked for some entertainment. Olivia has also put us in touch with a local film maker.

Olivia can bring her skills, knowledge and kit to any community in the Black Country with a desire to host film screenings to the place they live. You can contact her by email at 


John Goodman from the Big Lottery came along to our third MapJam session. I shared our progress to date and again introduced the fantastic Kumu mapping tools. John shared some mapping he had been doing of community activity in Sedgley, taking an approach of wandering in the area with his eyes open, looking for signs and instances of activity. This is an experience we’d like him to share with the Detectorists Collective as he continues. If you’d like to get in touch with John about his wandering-based mapping approach you can email him:

Notes by Lorna Prescott
Feature image photo credit: Ian Schneider on Unsplash

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