Pipe Cleaners and Post-It Notes

After nine months of designing, facilitating and implementing several design projects between our students, London Borough of Camden (LBC) and Camden residents, we are in a contemplative mood here at the PCL.

Today’s reflective workshop focused on the challenges, benefits and limitations of the Public Collaboration Lab, with input from both UAL and LBC team members. On the whole, the positives outweighed the challenges and inevitably, we had far more to contribute than time would allow. However, this initial reflective session will be followed up with more comprehensive individual discussions, as well as separate design project evaluative sessions to capture everyone’s experience of the Public Collaboration Lab to date.

To the Barricades! Inflatable Cubes Build-and-Play Sessions

Linking to the Red Lines COP21 event earlier in the year, here’s a new build and play event coming up this weekend:

Saturday 16 April – Building Cubes
Sunday 17 April – Playing with Cubes

Venue: The Hive, Dalston, London (260-264 Kingsland Road, London, E8 4DG)

Register here: http://goo.gl/forms/DlzisfpPFy

They float and fly. They stand, protect and inspire. The inflatable cobblestones that were brought to life in the streets of Paris during the UN Climate talks last December are now replicating across the globe in preparation for a #BreakFree week of action this May 2016.

Our contemporary barricades are made not from barrels and rocks – but mylar insulation foil, double-sided carpet tape, and velcro.  In Paris we fought against the State of Emergency that aimed to ban all dissent and forced our way on to the streets on 12 December.  From there, we collectively resolved to take the fight to the fossil fuel industry in 2016.

From Saturday 30 April to 4 May, Reclaim the Power will hold a mass action camp to shut down the UK’s largest open cast coal mine at Ffos-y-fran in South Wales.  Later in May, international climate networks from across Europe will join together to occupy an opencast coalmine at Lausitz Germany as part of ‘Ende Gelende’. In our actions, we will use the inflatable cobblestone concept as a both a practical and symbolic tool for collective disobedience and resistance.   
To prepare our inflatable interventions, we will run three sessions in total:
Building Session 1 – (Time and Date still being confirmed – sorry! Check here for an update)

Building Session 2 – Saturday 16 April at the Hive, Dalston 11am – 6pm.

In these sessions, we will learn how to build the Inflatable Cubes from start to finish (it takes about 4 hours).  All materials will be provided.   Check out this chirpy 7 minute instructional video: https://vimeo.com/157500007/414539a398
You only need to attend one of the Build sessions, not both.

Play Session – Tactical Deployment  – Sunday 17 April at the Hive in Dalston, 12.30pm – 6pm.

This is a practical training session focusing specifically on how we could use the Inflatables in various action scenarios.  We will look at the role of the affinity group and experiment with how we can use the cubes for maximum tactical advantage against our fossil fuel adversaries.  Check this formations video for some ideas: https://vimeo.com/160391763/fb47dfda6e

Places are limited for the build sessions and we’ll need a clear idea of numbers, so please apply on this quick Registration form: http://goo.gl/forms/DlzisfpPFy
The building and training sessions are mostly intended for people who will be attending the End Coal Now action in Wales in May.  However, if you’re not sure if you can go to the Welsh action, don’t hold back on registering anyway.

Email info@reclaimthepower.org.uk for any questions.

With thanks,

Reclaim the Power’s Emergent Cobble Army

Knowledge Quarter Community Engagement Show and Tell Event

Organised by the Knowledge Quarter’s Community Engagement subgroup, the Show and Tell evening event at the Wellcome Trust’s beautiful Reading Room was an opportunity to showcase the work of the Public Collaboration Lab. We exhibited the Future Libraries and Home Libraries Service projects, showing photos, videos, publications and creative consultation tools. Several Central Saint Martins MA Industrial Design students designed and made an engagement tool for the evening – a KQ Community Engagement Map – that participants could use to map the communities they work with, visually showing the networks and reach of the KQ organisations. The students were on hand for the evening, discussing their PCL work and advising on the KQ community engagement map.

The evening provided the opportunity for KQ partners to network and try out some of the community engagement activities offered by their neighbours (the baby T-Rex feet proved very popular!).

Two Sides of Collaboration: online survey for local government

At the Public Collaboration Lab we’re conducting research to increase understanding of Higher Education Institutions’ (HEI) role in supporting innovation practices within local governments, through design-led collaborative projects (those projects that engage designers and apply design methods and approaches as a central activity within the project).
National HEIs have already shared their design-led collaborative projects with local government through an online survey. Now, we want to invite local government across the county to complete an equivalent survey.

We’d love to hear from you about your experiences of local government collaboration with HEI in design-led projects. 

This will help us develop typologies that illustrate different approaches to collaboration, that will help articulate synergies between design activities and local government needs and aspirations, and lead to greater potential for future collaboration.
https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/pcl_lg
The survey should only take 15 minutes, and your responses are completely anonymous and will only be used by us in non-commercial research that forms part of the Public Collaboration Lab project. You can only take the survey once, but you can forward it to your colleagues to participate before the survey is closed on 31st April 2016.

We thank you in advance for your participation, and look forward to sharing the findings of our research with you.

Service Design in Government 2016 Conference

Beginning with a story about how a simple change in type size on a commonly used form led to two major wars and a world wide economic crisis, and ending with the metaphor of blind men describing an elephant, the Service Design in Government conference was really interesting.

Dana Chisnell from the Center for Civic Design in the US started the day with the first keynote about how design affects world peace, with the example of usability testing on American ballot designs. It was only after the 2000 American election with the ‘hanging chad’ issue that the State Department realised user testing on ballot papers would be useful. Lawsuits, economic meltdowns and IT disasters all kick start governments to look at design. Dana closed with ‘ultimately citizens will be better off because design is present’.

My main objective for attending the conference was to learn more about systems thinking, particularly in the context of design and local government. Storytelling and Design as a Tool for Systems Leaders was a mini-workshop facilitated by two collaborators; Jonny Mallinson form the Innovation Unit and Kristian Tomblin, a healthcare commissioner from Devon County Council (DCC). They collaborated on using storytelling to transform the service provision for people affected by domestic and sexual violence and abuse.

The last presentation of the day was on system thinking, given by Benjamin Taylor from the RedQuadrant consultancy. RedQuadrant work at the service end, to change public service delivery, they don’t work in digital, “I don’t think many people are doing service design in services, but in digital services”.

For Benjamin, a good way into systems thinking is American organisational theorist Russell Ackoff’s car analogy – if you take the best parts of the best cars and put them together, you don’t get the best car in the world, the parts have to be able to work together and to view the organisation as a technical problem. A whirlwind, informative tour of systems thinking, organisations and government followed.

Introducing the Public Collaboration Lab Exhibition

We were delighted to install the Introduction to the Public Collaboration Lab exhibition at the London Borough of Camden (LBC) offices in 5 Pancras Square at the end of last month. On Thursday 25th February we had an official launch, with members of the PCL team from both UAL and LBC available to speak about the work so far. The feedback has been very positive and we are looking forward to taking the exhibition to other venues at a later date.

What is Next? Creative engagement and consultation workshop

On 12th February the Public Collaboration Lab – a one-year AHRC funded research partnership between London Borough of Camden and University of the Arts London, Design for Social Innovation and Sustainability Lab (UAL DESIS Lab – held a workshop exploring the value of creative engagement and consultation.
The workshop gathered 60 participants including local government officers from across the country (Lancashire, East Anglia, Cambridgeshire, Greater London) and design academics to explore how universities and Councils can work together to carry out local engagement in more creative and possibly more inclusive ways by using participatory design approaches; and provide opportunities for collaboration.

The afternoon kicked off with a visit to the Public Collaboration Lab exhibition at Central Saint Martins, and continued across the canal at Camden Council offices, with a warm welcome by Rachel Stopard (Deputy Chief Executive Transformation & Partnerships at London Borough of Camden).

The workshop set off with an introduction of the Public Collaboration Lab project by Chris Widgery (Strategic Lead for Innovation, Inclusion and Digital at LBC) and Adam Thorpe (Professor in Socially Responsive Design at Central Saint Martins, and principal investigator of the Public Collaboration Lab project).

The Consultation Institute and Matthew Upton (Strategic Lead for Engagement and Consultation at Camden) shared a review of the legislative landscape and trends in engagement and consultation at national and local scales.
We then moved on to a hands-on diagnostic exercise to map out different decision-making journeys. For the exercise, representatives from local governments and academia teamed up to capture decision-making journeys and identify opportunities for participatory design approaches.

We captured decision-making journeys concerned with areas as diverse as planning and the built environment, service commission or library services. We identified common trends, like early engagement, and common challenges such as the difficulty to engage beyond usual suspects, or find alternatives to the consultation and dark room analysis treadmill.
Once opportunities were identified, the workshop continued on to showcase the latest research in participatory design approaches to engagement and creative consultation. We heard three different approaches form:
Gemma Coupe (Lancaster University) presented Beyond the Castle and Leapfrog’s consultation tools;
Dr. Theodore Zamenopoulos and Dr. Katerina Alexiou (The Open University) presented community-led design approaches to coproduction;
Prof. Adam Thorpe (University of the Arts London) and Jayne Brown (London Borough of Camden) shared their experiences of the Future Libraries creative consultation project.
We wrapped up the afternoon with a glass of wine, discussing the values and challenges around creative consultation, and thinking ‘what is next?’
The Public Collaboration Lab will circulate a workshop report on the value of creative engagement and consultation shortly, based on the Public Collaboration Lab experience and participants insights using the decision-making journey tool.
We would like to keep the conversation going and foster opportunities for collaboration!
We have set a mailing list to start a Special Interest Group around Creative Engagement and Consultation. Subscribe to join the conversation!
What would you like to happen next? Should we send out a box and cross-pollinate? Did you miss the workshop and would like to know more?

Empathy and Employment

Inspired by the expectation that empathy between societal actors may foster greater collaboration and contribute to the conditions for social innovation, the Empathy and Employment project explored how the design of objects can facilitate interactions that foster empathy in the context of employment.

With the assistance of BA Product Design students from Central Saint Martins, the project brought together employers and residents in the rapidly developing, but relatively deprived, Somers Town area of London. Through a collaborative process, students designed objects and interactions which enabled employers and residents to creatively communicate a wide spectrum of emotions about their needs, challenges and aspirations related to job seeking and recruitment, and to understand and empathise with each other’s experiences and perspectives.

The Creative Engagement and Consultation Workshop

The Creative Engagement and Consultation Workshop will be held on the 12th February 2016 at the offices of Camden Council, 5 St Pancras Square, London N1C 4AG.
The workshop will gather local government officers, design academics and colleagues from The Consultation Institute to explore how universities and Councils can work together to carry out local engagement in more creative and possibly more inclusive ways by using a participatory design approach. We will share new and innovative methods; and provide opportunities for collaboration between local government and higher education design institutions.

The workshop is aimed at local government engagement and consultation officers working in policy, strategy and public engagement, interested or active in new approaches and resources for public engagement and consultation. It is also aimed at design academics interested or active in new opportunities for collaborative learning and societal impact.

The programme includes:
· Representatives from The Consultation Institute and the London Borough of Camden sharing their insights into the legislative landscape and current practices in engagement, consultation and coproduction in policy making.
· Decision-making journeys: A hands-on diagnostic exercise to map out participants’ decision-making journeys, sharing the methods and tools used within them, and interrogating which approaches are most effective in which contexts.
· Creative engagement and consultation exchange: Presentations showcasing collaborations that are delivering the latest research in participatory design approaches to engagement and creative consultation, including Leon Cruickshank (Lancaster University) who will present the use of consultation tools in Beyond the Castle and Leapfrog projects; Theo Zamenopoulos and Katerina Alexiou (Open University) who will present an asset mapping methodology that has been applied to inform engagement, consultation and co-production of public services; and Adam Thorpe (University of the Arts London, Public Collaboration Lab) and the London Borough of Camden who will share their experiences of the Future Libraries Creative Consultation project.

· Finally, we aim to draw our insights to summarise the common challenges in public engagement and consultation, and identify opportunities for participatory design responses and opportunities for further collaboration between local government and design universities.

Youth Hubs Workshop

A Vegetarian Octopus, a Pineapple and a Box…

…not the latest weird detox diet or the beginning of a joke, but a creative exercise to kick-start a PCL student project focusing on Youth Hubs in Camden. PCL Principle Investigator Professor Adam Thorpe facilitated a workshop for first year CSM MA Narrative Environment students on co-discovery. The group is made up of ten students from ten different countries that all bring their cultural influences, as well as their differing design disciplines, to the work.

This project gives the students a unique insight into how their skills and competences can contribute to the co-creation of place-based propositions for local societal challenges. The students will act as a bridge between a range of different organisations and individuals, helping to articulate and visualise the narratives of young people that are often overlooked. The group is divided into three smaller groups who have so far scoped their different youth centres and met some of the teenagers who use them, as well as interviewing the staff. The initial site visits have introduced the students to the buildings, people and the locales they will be working in. Some of the students managed to squeeze a game of pool in too, all in the name of research, of course.