Lab Notes

Lab Notes #5 | w/c 23 Oct 2017

Bringing the design jam to Dudley (finally!)

On 24 October Lab Team members Daniel and I facilitated a one day design jam with members of Dudley Youth Council. I’ve wanted a jam in Dudley for ages! The Youth Council are exploring how they might raise awareness of homelessness and increase services for young people. Lab Notes reflecting on this session will be shared shortly. In the meantime we took some great photos in the session which you can check out on Flickr.

Making our insights easy to share to understand: developing a scrapbook

On 25 October three of our  Lab Team members (Jo, Vanessa and myself) got together for a second session working out ways that we might effectively and enticingly communicate the insights from our work in 2017. We focused on an idea from our first session which is to develop a multimedia scrapbook. Jo has drawn together our collective thoughts about why we are creating a scrapbook of our Detectorism Insights:

  • a  scrapbook is both a creative process and artefact to hold stories, memories & reflections – these are the stories, memories and (critical) reflections of 6 months of CoLab Dudley experiments
  • a scrapbook is a creative tool for mindful gratitude – allowing us to recall and value the actions, energies and passions of those doers and encouragers who have shared the learning, sharing and doing journey with us
  • a scrapbook is a way of sharing ideas and thoughts in a less formal or traditional medium that extends a convivial invitation to all to reflect, to be curious and to be creative in our thinking about the way we work and live and how the findings speak to that.
  • while the written word (often technical prose) is the dominant way of sharing ideas and research in particular, we know that most people (ourselves included) are more inspired by images, visual content and the written word shared in more creative form – the scrapbook gives us the chance to experiment in the way we share our thoughts and findings in a way many of us prefer and find easier to engage with
  • a scrapbook does not need to be read in a linear ‘front to back’ fashion, but rather can be dipped into, referred back to, allowing your senses and the stories to take you where your mind makes the links – in this way we feel it is a more helpful reflection of the complexity of societal challenges we explore through CoLab Dudley
  • a scrapbook grows & evolves with experiences and ours will too … our findings aren’t definitive or static, they are part of a dynamic collective learning & innovation journey that will have unexpected and serendipitous twists, turns and connections

While our original intent was to share our insights in 2017, we are mindful that inviting people to an event this side of Christmas doesn’t give us enough scope to co-design and produce the things we want to share in meaningful, considered ways. A change in timings opens up possibilities to use an event early in 2018 to both share and explore our insights and learning at the same time as articulating a programme of Lab experiments running through to summer 2018. We’ll be working on this as a team and welcome contributions, from inspiration and ideas, to the practical aspects of making things happen. Do get in touch if you’d like to help us co-design this.

A film, food and fungi!

One of our Lab Team members, Loraine, had a great idea to bring growers together over the winter: try growing mushrooms! We’ve combined this with the idea of a growing related film screening and yummy mushroom meals. Plans and promotion were made in the open on Thursday in gather coffee shop, so lots of people were involved in discussions about it – from sharing their foraging knowledge to feeding back on my poster designs. We’re running a daytime and an early evening session on Tuesday 28 November, head to Eventbrite to register places.

Connecting with creative labs

Creative producer and local resident Daniel Whitehouse dropped in for coffee and a catch up on 26 October. We explored synergy between CoLab Dudley activities, practices and plans a project Daniel is developing which will bring artists and interested people together in creative labs. Daniel will draw on CoLab Dudley insights in his funding applications, and we will look to collaborate on at least one part of his project which will have focus around Dudley town centre.

#BeyondUnemployment Hack Day

On Friday 27 October I participated in Hack Day hosted by a team at Impact Hub Birmingham. CoLab Dudley team members Daniel and Jo are part of the team at Impact Hub supporting the Beyond (Un)employment exploration and collaborative learning circle. I am always eager to learn from the thinking and approaches of the brilliant people at Impact Hub Birmingham, and wanted to experience part of this programme to help get a sense of how we might borrow some or all of the learning approach for activity in Dudley.

I was intrigued by an aspiration shared by Bryan Foster from The Pump in East Birmingham has to develop and test tools to use for taking a systems approach to help young people thrive. He kindly invited a group of us over to The Pump, and we saw the ways he had started a conversation with young people. The conversations we had prompted me to get on with a task I’ve had on my mind for while; drawing together a useful set of resources around systems practice. There are some resources I return to again and again, so I went searching for more, and invited suggestions of resources others have found useful, from blog posts, articles and videos, to guides, books and courses. I’ve created a systems practice area on this website which we will keep growing and update with local activity.

Notes by Lorna Prescott

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