Grassroots Govan

The word 'community' is everywhere ; but I never truly sensed the meaning of the word until now. On Wednesday evening ( the day the Spending Review was announced ) Sarah and I attended an event in Govan;  a district  in the southwestern part of the  Glasgow - 2.5 miles west of Glasgow City Centre, on the south bank of the River Clyde.

The main speakers were Alastair McIntosh (author of 'Soil and Soul' and fellow of the Centre for Human Ecology) and Dr. Carol Craig (author of 'the Tears that made the Clyde', and Director of the Centre for Confidence and Wellbeing). The title of the event was 'Celebrating the spirit in post-industrial communities' and there was music and song from Tam McGarvey and Tartan Heather.

I sat next to Penny, a local metal smith as I listened to people of all ages and backgrounds discuss the rift between humans at a very deep level and the real root causes of social upheaval.  The event came about because the Centre of Human Ecology has moved from Strathclyde University to the Pearce Institute building ; academia has embedded itself into a hard pressed community.

The audience were advised to begin a dialogue about seeking the truth about where we are and how we can fix the 'brokenness' ; the speakers requested honest, heart felt conversation.

Tam McGarvey taught me about Lady Pearce; the first person to get women into Glasgow University. Tom is from a brilliant initiative known as the Galgale trust

"People come to us with terrible social problems so we can teach them - it ends up with them teaching us about resilience, resourcefulness and spirit"

"Let's make our own version of big society. We need to take responsibility for ourselves. Take control of situation , respect each other - we can do all this by being creative"

'Freedom' was mentioned throughout this evening ( nothing to do with Mel Gibson ! ) Alistair probed the audience to think about what 'freedom' means today, what 'freedom' means to the people in the room living on benefits for £48 a week, where their window to nature is their TV.

The most ancient texts ever written about Scotland are about freedom and bravery of being a human being. So what is happening in Glasgow? Why does Glasgow have such a high rate of violence and a lower life expectancy than some third world countries?

Let's stand together. Punch above our weight. Don't just stand back and let stuff happen to you. We may not have money but we have got each other...

using your mobile to do something good

Last week I went to the first event held by Orange to mark the launch of their forthcoming initiative to promote mobile micro volunteering. I rocked up with the lovely Cassie Robinson knowing nothing about the idea or who was going to be there. The  50 people crowd wore stickers - developers sporting a blue sticker, people from orange an orange sticker and social entrepreneurs a green sticker. The aim of the evening was simply to 'meet in each other in person' - simple and true.

The force behind this new initiative is the merging of Orange and T mobile ; Everything Everywhere . They have more customers than the population of Canada! They certainly have the potential to harness this power to do something good!

Jamie T put together a good write up here and I was interviewed by the brill Brian Condon - you can listen on audioboo.

This new venture is encouraging people to make minutes matter, to do something from your phone that will take 5 minutes. It clearly presents new opportunities to work differently and it may highlight how much generosity there is in the world.

I suppose I am most interested in the balance of actions that can be done online and what can be done offline. Nevertheless, I am always interested in things that aim to liberate and inspire people so I will be watching closely.

p.s I was a big fan of the speakers wearing a red flower in their shirt pocket. Nice touch.

Let's eat service design cake

Snook hooked up with Richard Arnott ( also known as servicejunkie ) last time we were in London and we had a great conversation about interesting goings on in Bristol, Cornwall and other places far away from Glasgow. Amidst my notes from our chat was a reminder to have a peek at some of the companies in Cornwall. I have followed Kathryn Woolf's tweets for a while but had never explored the company she co-founded in Cornwall - Sea Communications.Their latest project looks great ;  New Work Cornwall aims to boost the skills of people in Cornwall & open doors to new job opportunities.

I am really curious about how we can visualise and simplify services and systems and I was inspired by this charming approach by the team at Sea Communications.

These models are the outcome of a co-design workshop:

"The best bit of the day for me was when all the children arrived after school and got busy drawing floor plans and making a community centre out of cake & sweets! This gave me an opportunity to talk to some of the mum's about the idea of a community centre reward card / loyalty scheme which they thought would work really well. The basic idea being that residents could exchange volunteer time for points that they could cash in for things like cinema tickets, food, electrical goods, travel vouchers etc."

You can see many more pics of the workshop here.

This finding inspired me to look back at the last time I worked this way during the creation of Making Service Sense. I made a Service Factory and really explored the notion of being 'a service architect' and all I remember is that it was genuinely fun.

It's like art attack meets blueprinting ... love it.

Berlin Beckons

The  Service Design Network Conference Agenda was released this week. I went along to their first event in Amsterdam, November 2008, I couldn't afford a ticket on my student budget so I asked my university to buy me a ticket instead of paying me for the teaching I was doing at the time. Like many others I decided not to go to the event in 2009 primarily because its location, but it did spark a huge debate amongst the community about what the next conference should be!

So, here we are in 2010 with the "next conference "only months away! I'm feeling pretty proud of myself because I have been invited to be a keynote speaker on the second day and my partner in crime, Sarah is lecturing on the first day. I am also initiating a design challenge around Making Service Sense. A hat trick for the Snook team !

I can't wait to meet new people and put many faces to twitter names! This opportunity has really got me thinking, I want to make an impact. I re-read the post I wrote about the event in 2008 and the journey I have been on since then has been pretty incredible.

I can't wait to share it with you.

MyDownhamMarket needs service designers

Wow. It seems a call out for 'service designers' is becoming a regular item on my to-do list... it's my pleasure to introduce MyDownhamMarket ... SI Camp and The Young Foundation are teaming up to run an event in King's Lynn. Young people will be entering ideas and 3 of them will get developed in a day. They are looking for service designers to get involved. They can offer travel expenses for people that come along, and food during the event. Ideally they're after some students who want some experience or freelancers that can give up a day of their time.

So what's it all about?


"MyDownhamMarket is all about coming up with new ideas to make your local area better using simple web and mobile tools. We’ll be bringing young people from the Downham Market area together with students and professional software developers and designers to create new projects that use web and mobile tools to make Downham Market better for everyone.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be hunting down some of the best ideas that could change something that matters in the local area. Ideas might be about finding a sports team, getting people together to clean up a park or ways of sharing lifts to school.
We’ll be choosing three of the best ideas to help build at a day-long event 4th June from 9am-6pm at the Highschool with the help of a whole bunch of different people – from business students to professional software developers."

Do it. It's real service design for real people...