scotland

#22 The Service Designer

Sarah Drummond needs no introduction on here :) - my co-founder at Snook, founder of Cycle Hack and the women I've spent the last six years trying to change the world with. I can't wait to welcome Sarah to Hyper Island to work with the students. Here's what she has to say...

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learnt over the last year?

Let people fail in order to improve and don't tell them how to be better, ask them what they think, what they think could be better, why they did things the way they did them and how they would do them differently.

Screen Shot 2015-06-16 at 16.51.44 What’s your burning question of the moment?

What is the role of small design consultancies in a future where the capability is being spread throughout education, free online and embedded into large organisations and brought in house.  What will the new small design boutiques need to become and how will they adapt?

What’s the most inspiring thing you’ve seen/ heard/ read in the last year?

I was teaching in Amsterdam, and the tutor Karen, her sister was involved in the Bali boat sinking.  She spent 50 hours at sea in the ocean, where white sharks operate, there were storms and she didn't have a life jacket.  There was a dozen people some who didn't make it, she treaded water and held on for her life.  She talked to her sister about seeing a volcano erupt from a far, holding onto drift wood and looking at the stars in the sky feeling she was in paradise ready to die.  I feel quite affected by this and inspired that when she was ready to let go she said, her body kicked into survival mode.  I'm fascinated by this and inspired by human being's resilience.

What would be your one piece of advice to students on Hyper Island’s new MA in Digital Experience Design?

Look around you.  Every single thing from product to service to system to political system can be changed.  It's not easy but never forget that everything around you is made by another human being and the only way to change it is to collaborate with others and have a vision.

You can read more profiles here...

#21 The Local Government Designer

#20 The Start Up Designer

 #19 The Human Centered Designer

#16 The UX Designer

#15 The Data Designer

#14 The Experience Designer

#13 The Design Teacher

#12 The Creative Technologist

#11 The Creative Generalist

#10 The Hyper Island Designer

#9 The Conscious Designer

#8 The Business Designer

#7 The Networked Designer

#6 The Speculative Designer

#5 The Digital Maker

#4 The Craftsman

#3 The Storyteller

#2 The Dreaming Maker 

#1 The Go-Getter.

Feigned inclusiveness

You should see their faces. Sheer joy. Such delight that someone under the age of 50 (and female, none the less) wants to join in - help, support and be part of what they’ve created. This can only mean one thing! Now all the other young people will follow their leader - we must prepare for their arrival. Give her a microphone! Ask her questions - be interested! Queue up to shake her hand and be sure to tell her how refreshing she is! Write her email address on your forehead!

Do you know what this means? This is validation. We must be impressive. We can teach this young person. We can mould and shape them to become like us. The young people will finally see that we were right all along - we must continue as we have always been. They will come and seek meetings and help us understand twitters. We might even give one of them a position on our committee. Ah! A social media secretary! Now they can make our panels more balanced. We can now tick the box. The box that we created. We will be balanced and inclusive. And, well, we all know that if she doesn’t come back … she’s probably a Tory - like the rest of today’s youth.

And how does this make me feel? Well of course, I’m so thrilled that people of such elder years who have done so much to make the world a better a place want to welcome me. I take furious notes listening to their tales of war and poverty that I couldn’t possibly begin to understand - then I email them.

Or not.

I’m not a Tory. I now know that you don’t really listen to my voice and my ideas. It’s all pretend. The emails never come. You just want me to like you.

Well, I don’t.

Feigned inclusiveness

You should see their faces. Sheer joy. Such delight that someone under the age of 50 (and female, none the less) wants to join in - help, support and be part of what they’ve created. This can only mean one thing! Now all the other young people will follow their leader - we must prepare for their arrival. Give her a microphone! Ask her questions - be interested! Queue up to shake her hand and be sure to tell her how refreshing she is! Write her email address on your forehead!

Do you know what this means? This is validation. We must be impressive. We can teach this young person. We can mould and shape them to become like us. The young people will finally see that we were right all along - we must continue as we have always been. They will come and seek meetings and help us understand twitters. We might even give one of them a position on our committee. Ah! A social media secretary! Now they can make our panels more balanced. We can now tick the box. The box that we created. We will be balanced and inclusive. And, well, we all know that if she doesn’t come back … she’s probably a Tory - like the rest of today’s youth.

And how does this make me feel? Well of course, I’m so thrilled that people of such elder years who have done so much to make the world a better a place want to welcome me. I take furious notes listening to their tales of war and poverty that I couldn’t possibly begin to understand - then I email them.

Or not.

I’m not a Tory. I now know that you don’t really listen to my voice and my ideas. It’s all pretend. The emails never come. You just want me to like you.

Well, I don’t.

I'll never lose my Scottish words

I dig the Scottish thing. That's obvious by now ( I hope ). People I work with know me as The Weegie and Sarah the Edinburgher. I say the word 'film' funny and after an evening at home with my mum and dad I quickly slip back into ayrshire and sound even more weegie - but I did live in Dundee for 5 years so I can also do a mean impression of a Dundonian (or Kate Pickering ) whenever it takes my fancy ;) I often catch snippets of conversations on Sauchiehall Street in Glasgow City's Centre and cringe at what I hear. I've cringed so much before  I've scoured the web for elocution lessons - in a cold sweat thinking I have to get rid of this awful accent! But of course I didn't and I don't think about it too much anymore - I just get happy when people say I sound really Scottish ( then I can pretend that I actually look like this girl )

tartan_2

So I discovered poet and author Jackie Kay who reads her poem 'Old Tongue', which laments the fact that those who move away from Scotland often lose their Scottish words in the process. This poem made me feel happy and I know I'll come to back to it in future when I need to connect with my Scottish words. ( you have to watch the video - this is a poem you have to hear )

Jackie Kay - Old Tongue by poetictouch

Old Tongue

When I was eight, I was forced south. Not long after, when I opened my mouth, a strange thing happened. I lost my Scottish accent. Words fell off my tongue: eedyit, dreich, wabbit, crabbit, stummer, teuchter, heidbanger, so you are, so am ur, see you, see ma ma, shut yer geggie or I’ll gie ye the malkie!

My own vowels started to stretch like my bones, and I turned my back on Scotland. Words disappeared in the dead of the night, new words marched in: ghastly, awful, quite dreadful, scones said like stones, Pokey hats into ice-cream cones. Oh where did all my words go - my old words, my lost words? Did you ever feel sad when you lost a word, did you ever try to call it back like calling in the sea? If I could have found my words wandering, I swear I would have taken them in, swallowed them whole, knocked them back.

Out in the English soil, my words buried themselves. It made my mother’s blood boil. I cried one day with the wrong sound in my mouth. I wanted them back; I wanted my old accent back, my old tongue. My dour, soor Scottish tongue. Sing-songy. I wanted to gie it laldie.

Just for you Jo x

Cloudbusting, Kite Flying and Star gazing

Dundee is a magnificent city that faces extraordinary challenges and last week I spent a day talking and thinking about how the creative and cultural sector can help tackle those challenges. Cloudbusting is the first in a series of national gatherings led by the creative producers, Big Sky, which seeks to answer big societal questions. This time it was part of the DCA'Blue Skies weekend. The room was made up of the private, public and third sector - businessmen, entreprenuers, artists and chief execs. This mix is not an easy one to bring together so well done Bryan Beattie!

snook

The day launched with businessmen Ellis Watson, the CEO of the regional newspaper publisher DC Thomson, former Mirror Group boss and chief executive of Simon Cowell's entertainment company Syco. Ellis set the scene of the day by talking about looking over horizons so we can build an intellectual framework to combat poverty in Dundee. It was refreshing and almost relieving to hear someone from Ellis's background talk passionately about why the cultural and creative sector is fundamental to the days conversation.

In this case statistics are important but they do require context and balance so I'll just list a few to help you understand the reality of what Dundee faces: in different parts of the city, areas that are just a stones throw away from each other have a difference in life expectancy of 23 years.  In Dundee the absurd juxtaposition between poverty and affluence is brought into sharper focus because of the small size of the city. In Polmont young offenders institute, 73% of the young men were previously in the care system.

One more statistic for you and remember this one as you drive through dundee and see all the water front developments, and read the newspaper about the big plans for the V and A museum ... remember that currently over one quarter of households in Dundee live in poverty.

I've worked in Dundee, I lived there for five years and compared to other places I have lived and worked there is at times an absence of hope in the city. Aspiration is being bred out of people and where are the role models?

Admittedly, there are great initiatives happening throughout the city and lots of people working very hard and doing an incredible job but the net outcomes suggest it's not working. Poverty pervading in spite of  amazing efforts suggests either a lack of clear strategy or a lack of implementation of that strategy.  There can be no other reason for amazing effort and hard work not producing better results.

Jenny Marra, Labour Member of the Scottish Parliament for North East Scotland and Shadow Minister for Community Safety and Legal Affairs, bravely admitted that all political parties are struggling with answers and ideas. This is not because of a lack of focus or a want to make things better but the stark reality that throwing money at services alone is not enough. Politicians are famously good that identifying the issues but now it's not even answers but ideas they need the most.

Jenny is working to change the labour party conference so you are not allowed to approach the podium unless you have an idea to offer because so many of the speeches identify the problems - we all know what the problems are  - it's seeking solutions that will start to change our city and change our country.

Admirably, Jenny embraced her political stance and voiced the elephant in the room - the budget implications in all of this. However, the truth is that the most successful policy since Scottish Parliament opened 13 years ago is  the smoking ban. It was a good, simple idea and it cost nothing. Unless politicians are able to be bold and imaginative lives in Scotland will not change.

Professor Nora Kearney, a friend of Snooks, then talked openly and honestly about how struck she was by the deprivation after moving to Dundee from Glasgow. Usually we can all live in our pretty houses and drive our nice cars but Dundee is very small - it's very difficult to hide from the poverty.

So what does Kite Flying have to do with all this? The potential Scotland has and where it has come from in the last decade is phenomenal and there is so much excitement around what we could do as a country. Dundee plays a big part in this with the re-generation of  the water front and V and A. Yet, Scotland is often termed as the sick man of Europe. However, if you took Dundee and Glasgow out of Scotland and stuck it out in the Atlantic the health outcomes of Scotland would be the same as the rest of Europe.

But what does poverty mean actually? GDP? Life expectancy? Slums in cambodia? How do we visualise poverty? Nora's day job shows that poverty means you are much more likely to get cancer and if you are poor you are much more likely to die of cancer even if you get diagnosed at the same stage and go through the same pathway as a wealthier person. But this is not about a disease phenomem it is about a whole host of social and cultural issues. Poverty kills. It kills life, it kills health and it kills spirit.

So how do we move to star gazing? All the evidence would suggest that we have to look at things differently and seek more  creative ways of doing things. There are already great plans in place such as the Dundee Partnership Fairness Strategy. Things like this are key drivers for change in the future because this has to be tackled collectively. It is not the responsibility of one sector or one individual or organisation.  This requires long term collaboration on a big scale. Undoubtedly, this will take at least two generations to shift. This requires significant and prolonged effort - not short term solutions.

And what about rainbow chasing? Nora believes the pot of gold does exist at the end of the rainbow in Dundee. The arts, music, sport and the cultural history that Dundee have must be harnessed. Dundee has got a fantastic heritage and we should build on that. How do we harness the creative power of the city and make it meaningful? How does Dennis The Menace influence the Fairness Strategy? The opportunities are enormous and the challenges are great but working collaboratively we can really make a difference.

Andy Milne, the CEO of SURF  talked about the 'creatification of everyone' stating the giving workers the creativity and autonomy to do things differently should be the focus of Government .

We watched a short video from the Chief Medical Officer of Scotland, Dr Harry Burns who talked about the biology associated with being poor and he reminded us all that it never says cause of death: poor housing or cause of death: poor on any birth certificate.

Chris van der Kuyl, the CEO of Bright Solid talked honestly and openly about the public sector fixation on controlling everything and reminded the audience that days of IT teams being in control are coming to a sharp and swift end.

"If you think someone in Silicon Valley is going to come up with the tech that will solve the problems in Dundee you are wrong. The solutions have to come from here - from us - from Dundee's people"

Artist, Jacqueline Donachie brought waves of raw emotion into the room by sharing her families battle with Muscular Dystrophy. She believes we deserve beauty in all areas of life. Why isn't the doctors surgery as nice as a hair salon?  I believe the same 'levels of service' are deserved in in all areas of life. Why does dining in my local restaurant make me smile and always deliver yet the national health service make me feel stupid and fail to understand my needs?

One shocking thing Jacqueline told us was that she met with a group of world class academics who have been researching the disease for twenty years but (and this beggars belief!) had never, once, ever met someone with Muscular Dystrophy.

Liz from Fablevision introduced us to their work to bring communities together through Govan Thegither. Alan Lyddiard talked about his previous projects with the homeless and challenged the audience to think about what would happen if the homeless could curate an exhibition at the V and A and think about the people outside the room who don't agree with us. Peter Kelly from the Poverty Alliance asked who's poverty is it anyway? One problem is how middle class people perceive the problem in the first place.

  • 38% of people think poverty is an inevitable part of modern society
  • 19% structural injustice
  • 28% think it's laziness and lack of will power
  • 79% of people think poverty is governments job

How can we tackle this?

  • Real life stories delivered by real people
  • Practical alternatives to current approaches
  • Realise poverty and inequality are equal  ( this has implications for how we talk about the wider system )

There are two key documents from Government out there The Community Led Regeneration and the Community Empowerment Renewal Bill ( will come out at the end of September and is currently being consulted on ) But as Nora rightly asks "Why do we need a bill so we can talk to each other?"

We must debunk this myth of scarcity. The money is there - it's a question of where we put it. Of course Cloudbusting was full of  'haves' - what are we all personally going to give up for the 'have nots'?  If you are preaching equality - how do you preach it in your daily life? Do you go to the shops and use the churches and play parks in the deprived areas near you? What would happen if we all did that....

And yes all of what I heard at Cloudbusting made sense but the reality is that currently systems stop us acting upon fresh ideas. This is our focus at Snook - how to work inside the systems and find solutions from a stance of humility, with no agenda and no pre determined answers.  Our focus in on helping people to articulate their own solutions.

 As journalist Lesley Riddoch says  "We need to stop trying to do the wrong things righter" because this is too big to ignore but small enough to tackle. The most important and vital tool we have is the attitude and desire to re-think things so we can make an even more profound difference. Projects and processes with limited outcomes are perhaps just the wrong things to be doing and we need to say this confidently. We must be confident to think wide, deep and look far and be unashamedly and ludicrously ambitious for our future. We need to be bold.

P.S Lovely to catch up with Gillian Easson and thanks for the newspaper picture above! great to see Hazel White and Liz Gardiner and meet new, curious people!