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Hello 🙂

You’re probably here because you’re a doer, an encourager, or simply curious.

CoLab Dudley makes it easier for people to create, share and learn things together.

What we are

We are a social lab working at a local scale in Dudley town centre, in the West Midlands, UK. Social labs initiate and support ongoing experiments to address complex social challenges. We seek to return agency to the people of Dudley as leaders and designers of change and innovation for a more socioecologically sustainable future. You’re warmly invited to join our adventure.

What we do

We invite participation by people with diverse experiences, skills, talents, knowledges and interests, from different sectors of society. In Dudley we have met and connected hundreds of doers; people with all kinds of skills, talents and knowledge who want to connect and co-operate in practical activities and projects which make the place they live feel safe, kinder and creative. We inspire people with stories from innovative projects from around the world. We  help local doers to bring these ideas to Dudley or design their own projects by reconfiguring and re-mixing all kinds of dormant resources around them.

We create learning, connection and inspiration experiences for encouragers. Encouragers are people from a range of organisations and sectors who have capacity to encourage and support engagement by doers and projects, spaces and the lab.

We invite the super-curious to bring their combined research and life skills to collectively explore the designing and doing of social change. In Dudley we call this detectorism. Together we think about, collect, map, analyse and share data relating to CoLab Dudley projects, processes, experiences and impact. We seek to understand more about the root causes of problems and the interconnected webs of relationships which produce patterns of behaviours which lead to social challenges persisting. We use systems practice to try to make sense of this complexity.

CoLab Dudley brings new ways of thinking that present alternative approaches to risk, measurement, organisational cultures, and planning. We have a bias towards action, producing practice-based evidence. We experiment with new models of relationships and engagement to increase opportunities for creative and practical participation. Our experimentation and culture of shared learning (detectorism) informs strategic design and further prototyping.

Insights: what our practice-based evidence has shown us so far

Detectorism Insights #1 will be published in early 2018. You are invited to download, explore and discuss the research with us.

The Lab Team

Lorna Prescott: a senior development officer for Dudley CVS. Lorna brings design and systems thinking thinking to her work as a result of degrees in Engineering Design and Appropriate Technology. She has worked in Dudley for 20 years in neighbourhoods on environmental, community, youth and health projects, and with voluntary, community and faith sector networks on strategic engagement and influence.

Lorna launched CoLab Dudley in 2014 to encourage a focus on creativity, design, inspiring and imaginative ideas, and resources in Dudley which could be shared. Lorna is Deputy Chair of the RSA Fellowship Council, and Fellowship Councillor for the RSA’s Public Services and Communities theme. She is on the Global Advisory Board for Participatory City, Lorna was previously a trustee and chair of national charity Community Development Exchange, and was one of the initial Impact Hub Birmingham maker team members.

Stu Homer and Loraine Stockton: Dudley residents, founders and Directors of Gather Dudley CIC. Having taken on and repurposed an empty retail unit on Dudley High Street,

Stu and Loraine have generated a pulse in Dudley, animated by their active welcome, an authentic invitation to participate and explicit valuing of creativity and creative thinking. Local people experience gather as a creative and safe space. Stu and Loraine’s consistent presence in the coffee shop for over 40 hours a week along with their welcome and openness is critical to the success of CoLab Dudley experiments and projects.

Adam Hall: a Dudley resident and Award Manager for UnLtd. He is interested in how growing participatory culture and creative and cultural opportunities in a place might create a supportive environment for social entrepreneurs. He successfully pitched for Dudley to be one of UnLtd’s areas of focus in their new resilient communities programme.

Dr Johanne Orchard Webb: a human geographer with research experience in citizen engagement and social sustainability. Jo is the Lab Team’s ‘Head Detectorist’ and has immersed herself in CoLab Dudley experiments and activities in order to develop an holistic cultural portrait of the participatory culture emerging in Dudley as a result. Since starting with CoLab Dudley, Jo has been engaged as a researcher on a global project with Impact Hub and on work with UnLtd around the housing system.

Daniel Blyden: a visual designer and digital media producer interested in how designers can work more openly with people to unleash creativity in tackling social challenges. Daniel brings strategic design approaches to CoLab Dudley and is behind the visual style and artwork for Do Fest Dudley and Share Fest, which builds on civic branding developed through CoLab Dudley work in 2016.

Daniel is part of the Global Jam community, he established Spaghetti Jams in Birmingham in 2015 while studying for a Masters with Hyper Island. Daniel is Impact Hub Birmingham’s Chief of Visual Design and Learning Experiences.

Guy Holness: a local creative and founder of The UpCycle Shop, transforming waste into positive products. Discarded pallets and other waste are collected and used to make box planters and custom creative commissions such as shelves, toys and items of furniture. Guy hosted regular Open Workshop sessions in the workshop at gather and  established Creative Connect in 2017.

Thom Bartley: a local photographer and videographer. Thom has photographed and filmed a range of CoLab Dudley activities, and produced Do Fest and Share Fest videos. Thom is currently leading a team developing ways to create a Future Job Centre, as part of Impact Hub Birmingham’s Beyond (Un)emplyment programme.

Vanessa Randle: a visual practitioner (joined the team in August 2017). Vanessa is working with the team to develop engaging and exciting ways to communicate the many interconnected insights from CoLab Dudley detecorism.

Nick Booth: a communicator who helps to grow civic conversation (joined the team in Oct 2017). Nick will work with the team and people involved and interested in CoLab Dudley experiments so that we might more effectively connect, collaborate and share stories.

Daniel Whitehouse: a creative producer and project manager with 10 years experience working across a range of art forms and engaging with a wide variety of audiences from different creative and cultural backgrounds. Daniel was the Next Generation Producer at mac Birmingham for 6 years, where he successfully built and developed a nationally recognised programme for young people and emerging artists. More recently he managed a talent development initiative at the Manchester International Festival. Daniel is developing a programme for local creatives in Dudley drawing on practice from around the world and learning from CoLab Dudley experiments.