Every few months or so, we gather a group of our fellow practitioners to catch up, mingle and most importantly cross-connect to see what might emerge. Usually we invite a few people through our network for a themed dinner, we have done public health + design a few times. This time we thought we do Movie and Date night to see “If You Build It” before reconnecting over dinner.
The documentary follows a year of Emily Pilloton and Matthew Miller of Project H, the ups and downs of working with the students and the school board of Bertie County, losing their key champion and eventually their teaching salaries. Undeniably a journey of the uphill battle of bring an innovative solution to a undebatable wicked problem of engaging youth in their education experience.
By far my favourite moment is the one that most reminds me of why we do this kind of work at all, the giant smile on the faces of the students as they were able to put their chicken coop together and feel overwhelmingly proud of their efforts. You could see that these would be moments they would remember forever. The movie gave me inspiration and strength that the struggles are well worth the efforts and the smiles on those kids faces as they figured out how to put their ideas into execution, to see their designs come to life and the satisfaction of building a contribution to the community to be proud of are priceless rewards.
Like most people in our Community of Practice, learning from other design practitioners keeps us going and I am honoured to say that we are facing quite a few big ones in Toronto. After seeing Emily Pilloton’s TED Talk in 2010 where she talks about the “Teaching Design for Change”, it is needless to say that we instantly became fans of Emily’s work through Studio H. At Exhibit Change, we aspire to learn from those who are stepping up and out there into the world to share the message of what can happen when we take a risk at using design as a language for experimenting with boundaries and tensions. It is the ultimate play space if you can get just 1 person to believe it is possible.
I left the movie with a few hundred new ideas and questions burning, how might we innovate within the boundaries of the institution? how might we preserver to demonstrate our visions? how might we collaborate with unusual suspects for greater impact? how might systems learn to adapt to the ever changing times?
To join our Community of Practice, come be a part of our Google + group called Design Connector where we and others share ideas, resources and events.
It has been a fantastically great year of learning, growing and sharing. We are spending time this week thinking about all we have done, what has come of the year and where we are headed. Looking back at how we were Ringing in 2013, it is nice to see that the resolutions we made stuck and now we are ready to say goodbye again and bring on 2014.
This year, we have had the extreme pleasure of working with some fabulous collaborators, convening spaces for conversation, working to really embrace and celebrate failures as learning opportunities and having way too much fun.
As the final weeks of 2013 speed by, we are trying to tie up lose ends and working to do it with flare and perhaps put a bow on it.
What an amazing year, I will remember the network of collaborators, educators and friends who have supported us through, a focus on learning to get to failure and beyond, and ultimately that we are connecting the dots in ways I could never have imagined. I am so excited for what 2014 is going to bring.
This fall we embarked on strategic planning for Exhibit Change with our new core team, Colin and I, and our Makers, Terrence, Emily, Clara and Nisha to spend 1.5 days thinking through where we are headed. This is something we have tried to do before and always stumbled after the initial steps. This time around we felt like we needed to invest in a different way to get the most value out of the process. It was a pleasure to get to spend these days with some of my favourite people, focus our brains and not surprisingly I learned a lot about what it is like to be facilitated.
After a few failed attempts at facilitating ourselves, we finally brought in Natalie Currie to help us out with our strategic planning. Much like a hair dresser trying to cut their own hair, we would have missed the hard to reach spots and only been able to see one perspective. Having a facilitator in the room let us concentrate on the content and not on the process (which was new for us) and such a relief. Natalie was fully warned walking into the room that we are a silly bunch and that her job was to keep us focused and reduce the number of tangents we went on – of course a few still got away from us.
Natalie used a few different sneaky facilitation tricks on us to get to some of the stuff below the surface. We designed a movie script for 10 years from now, an empathy map of our clients, ranked our priorities and came up with an intense 90 day action plan. Each day we left completely mentally exhausted.
Moving forward, I am so proud of all that we have accomplished this year and totally “scare-cited” as Natalie would put it for next year. We have big plans for 2014, we are turning 5.
In an exciting development as September rolled through, Exhibit Change has officially set up shop in the Situation Lab at OCAD U as the Innovator in Residence!
Located on Richmond Street West in the old Fashion District, the Situation Lab is an immersive research lab focused on applying game theory and transmedia methodologies to storytelling, participation, augmented reality and foresight.
This is an incredible opportunity for Exhibit Change to build upon its current work with the Educators’ Studio and applying design thinking to education, not to mention the exploration of design thinking and community engagement through the lens of moving audiences from being consumers of content to being the creators and key stakeholders of community initiatives.
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This year we are looking forward to some innovative ideas, some projects that have been incubating for a few months to start sprouting and a refinement of our impact. We are going to be starting some strategic planning and exploration of what the future holds.
As with years that have passed before, we see the changing of the calendar as the opportunity to start or restart initiatives. We welcome the chance to feel renewed and to engage in the swell of refreshed energy.
In 2013, we resolve to:
make room for experiments
explore our failures
respect the need for iterations
process our process
Goodbye 2012, we promise to remember you for your ups and downs. You have taught us a lot. We bid you adeiu.
I returned from a three-week adventure in Tanzania splitting time teaching at Good Hope Orphanage and Primary School, reaching the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro and speeding through the vast plains of the Serengeti. From my flight to Dar es Salaam to being seen off at the airport coming home to Toronto, I had the privilege to meet so many change makers in such short time; Allen, a Certified Prosthetist and Orthotist from United States working with World Medical Mission to train locals in prosthetics and orthotics in Kenya and Jill, Nicole, Apryl and Tanya from Canada, working for Sustainable Cities in Dar es Salaam on urban development projects with the municipal government were some of the fine folks working on incredible initiatives in Africa. In the next several blog posts I would like to share the stories of a few change makers I met along the way.
Join us on a photography adventure, as we explore the city through our pictures, neighbourhood walking tours and conversation.
Bringing city building to the streets – everyone is invited to participate in capturing their perspective and stories about living in the city! An interactive, community based project which seeks to encourage action, inspiration and bring personal stories of the city to life. What is your favourite part of Toronto? What do you see in your day to day? How do you move through the city? What do you seek to change? If you were in charge of changing the city landscape, what would you do?
Through My Lens is a 10 day (September 7 – 16), multi-city, interactive photo-voices project to bring out stories to lead to community action. Through My Lens only happens when people become involved. Through volunteer led neighbourhood walks, self-guided photography adventures and pure curiosity, we imagine that Through My Lens will ignite a new way to look at our spaces and to re-imagine what the city could be.
Leitmotif Project – Parkdale’s Nuit Blanche project (October 1) will be taking the Through My Lens images to the streets, literally! The exhibit is an interactive community based dialogue of images, stories and people connecting with the city; in a rental truck, on pedestrians, on buildings, on sidewalks, on anything we can get our hands on. We will be collecting stories all night to showcase stories of city building and designing new ideas. Come visit us at our exhibit and make your mark on the city. The intersection of Queen Street West and Dowling Avenue will be animated throughout the night with images, scrawls, scribbles and laughter. Together, we can make an impact on the city.
The EdCampTO organizing committee met to talk about purpose. How do 15ish people come up with one catch phrase, a hook, or even one notion of what is going to happen? I always look forward to the variety of perspectives and comments that arise in these meetings. There was certainly a range of expectations of what EdCamp was supposed to be talked about, supposed to be given and what you should get when you walk out the door.
I leaned toward the idea of going with a curiosity for meeting folks interested in testing and even disrupting the current education system and pushing for new technologies and techniques. I am happy to go into EdCamp with no real goals and to walk away with nothing tangible other than meeting new people and having my mindset shaken up and for me to do the same for others. I like the way Stephen said that he left Vancouver’s EdCamp “empty handed” but with his mind full of inspiration and new contacts. And how Sean said that it was like flipboard where he has curated who he follows but as he flips through the pages day by day, he doesn’t know what new information he will find.
I know that this is going to happen, as our organizing meeting already offers the opportunity to share different views towards purpose, passion and expectations and subsequently the spectrum is already being established. I think as much as we cannot all agree on one learning style, we cannot agree on one purpose either and will instead have to be content in knowing that we are coming together from a similar questioning mind. I want to encourage curiosity of learning.
Every community is made up of diverse individuals, each of whom has a unique experience of the city in which we live. These experiences often stay close to us, only loosely making connections with the stories of others who call the same city home. The mission of Through My Lens is not only to document life in the city just as it is, but also to bring all these unique stories together in one place, to ignite connections to our spaces and each other and to inspire positive action within our communities.
Starting on September 10th, people of all ages from all parts of the city will be embarking on a photo-taking adventure. We hope to give a voice to those who normally do not speak up for change, and through this project foster a stronger sense of community within our cities.
Each day during the project, participants will be given a different theme as the subject of their inspiration, ranging from people to potential to food. They will then submit one photo for each day, totaling 10 photos at the end of the project. We encourage participants to walk new paths, look in different directions, to promote creativity and to inspire themselves and others along the way. Our goal is to reach over 1000 people throughout the project, at least 50 of whom participate fully in the photo-voices collection.
These photos will be collected for online exposure, and a selection of them will be displayed together on October 1 as a photography exhibit. The images in this exhibit will serve as the centerpiece of dynamic community conversation. Together, we will discover new connections to our stories and develop new perspectives. Following the project, our goal is to use these stories to spearhead five city-building proposals that will positively impact community members.
We are passionate about our cities. We get energy from people. We are curious about the millions of stories that live where we live. We are looking to encapsulate the essence of city life from the people who live here and to share all our stories to promote creativity, civic engagement and a collective voice for change. We interact with others every day, and together we continue to weave the narrative that makes our community what it is today. We all have a story to tell – and Through My Lens is our chance to tell it.
On March 11, fellow design thinkers gathered for a weekend adventure into the Global Service Jam. People came with multiple interests, experiences and curiosities. We hosted an evening of icebreakers and conversation about “Superheroes”.
There were 50 cities across the world, 1263 jammers, 203 projects and over 50,000 hours spent in one weekend!
I was impressed with the passion and enthusiasm people brought to the table. The idea brainstorming really got ideas flowing and the theme was easy to discuss and great fun. It is pretty hard not to have fun talking about Superheroes and to come up with hundreds of stories, situations, businesses, projects and ideas framed around superheroes and villains. Villains are proactive, they are always one step ahead and they always want to be on top; whereas Superheroes are reactive, well intentioned, but often conflicted in their ethical dilemmas. Save the one you love, or the bus of children…one of the best lines of the night, “Act like a Villain, Think like a Superhero”. The evening was full of wonderful discussion as people suggested tons of projects and narrowed them down and then broke into smaller groups to further discuss the details and to decide on a team for the weekend. By the end of Friday evening, we were excited to see what was going to unfold for the rest of the weekend.
Work hard, overcome the deadline, design something kickass!
Appreciate that good design is seamless
Be curious, but trust the process
Come together with strangers for a common goal
So, where does all this madness and creativity lead us? Well that is up to you, you are the Superheroes here….we merely brought you together! See all the fun we had and what we created.