Day 9: Showtime

 

Finally our time had come, the last day, the final frontier, it was presentation time! We said goodbye to the overground line to Stratford and hello to the lower ground lecture theatre of Bedford Way. After attempting to reorganise everyone’s roles in the presentation we made the controversial decision to stick to the parts that each individual had actually prepared. Despite our lack of post-it notes or any real speaking order, we sat near the front eagerly anticipating our time to shine.

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We may not have had as many slides as Group 1 (IROKO) or the artistic abilities and props of Group 4 (Creative Wick) but our spirit and passion burned bright! Fortunately our project was well received. The longitudinal structure of our scheme and engagement of various companies within Here East was highly commended. We also received useful suggestions that we hadn’t considered such as integrating Here East’s current programme designed to target university students. This idea was concurrent with our overall aim to implement a longitudinal programme that reinforces attitudes and beliefs relating to equal opportunities on a consistent basis. Therefore if we were pitching this solution to the LLDC we would take time to discuss the possibility of joining with this programme.

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After a quick lunch break we returned to Bedford to evaluate and reflect on the programme. In typical human-centred design fashion we grabbed post-it notes and wrote down our opinions on various reflective questions regarding the (Un)Urban strand. We found people would have preferred more time for such large projects and possibly smaller groups for more concentrated discussions. Students also seemed to contribute and take away similar aspects such as communication skills, understanding and insight. A common theme amongst questions regarding what people gained and enjoyed was an appreciation and understanding of the human centred design process and multidisciplinary teamwork. Thus overall despite being in it first year the (Un)Urban strand was a great success!

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Eventually, we attended the final cross-strand event and witnessed talks and video presentations from various other strands. These ranged from drawn animations created by the outbreak strand to a homemade video from those working on Sustainable Cities. At first the idea of sitting in a lecture hall for an hour so soon after exams was far from exciting, however the presentations were well thought out, educational and entertaining. Each strand seemed to offer a wealth of opportunity for learning, growth and enjoyment. Fortunately, the organisers were smart enough to save the best till last resulting in (Un)Urban closing the presentations. Despite the time restrictions our group delivered a clear and concise insight into the progress made in those short two weeks.

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After UCL’s Vice Provost (Education & Student Affairs) delivered a closing speech we all shuffled out towards the cloisters to admire the fruits of our labour and exchange as many drink tokens as we could find. Amongst the buzz of celebrating students our poster hung loud and proud, a dazzling mint green example of excellence. No but really our poster was great. The perfect Microsoft word template complimented the perfect project and we were proud to admire our innovative and engaging creation. It was safe to say we struck lucky, not only with the challenge we received and the group members whose company we shared but also with the strand overall. From the diverse discussion panels in UCL lecture theatres to enjoying Stour Space and its beautiful surroundings this programme really went above and beyond my expectations and if it were socially acceptable to redo it next year I’d be the first to apply!

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Last day: Withdrawals

As the saying goes, all good things must come to an end. And UnUrban is definitely one of the good things, to say the least (I could go on and on about it).

Definitely jump at the chance to work beyond what you’ve known and discover new places and people. This programme is going to be as fun, beneficial and engaging as you want it to be. Essentially, it really depends on your contribution. The higher you invest in this programme, the higher the return that you will (hopefully) get.

I won’t give too much away so that you can experience it yourself what it means to join this strand.

Special shout out to Hannah for organising this and to all the navigators for spending loads of hours insight-ing us in this programme.

So after hours and hours to find the right music and combination, here is my journey in this programme. Hopefully it’ll  be yours in the future:

P/S Just thought that we deserve a video as well.

 

 

 

09.06.16: Last Day in Hackney

It was our last day at Stour Space in Hackney and the penultimate day of the Global Citizenship Programme. The first half of the day was spent in the studio working on our posters (surprisingly difficult with one laptop and a bunch of hungry students) but we ended up with something that we can all be proud of, that tries to address not only the physical issues of the Mobile Garden City but the issues surrounding the infrastructure too. IMG_20160609_120122

After lunch we chose between staying in Stour Space and participating in a workshop on public speaking or going to the garden again – to volunteer this time. After two months of revision and exams the outdoors option will always win for me, so off we headed in the blazing sun to harvest mint, paint storage containers and put up posters. It was the most lively I’d seen the garden in the few times I’d been there, and the massive group of UCL students pottering about managed to attract several curious people to come have a look around and find out about the space – maybe a glimpse into the idealised visions people had of the garden when they originally founded it.

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Back to Bloomsbury for now

Day 8

Our last day in Stour Space has been one of mixed feelings. It had been a day of pride because we completed the challenge and finalised our project but it has also been a day of reflection and wishing that perhaps we had a little more time to breathe in the air of this contested but yet beautiful area of East London.

The main task of today was to bring everyone together and create two posters for the Friday exhibition. This required to digitalise the majority of the materials created during the week so it was largely a computer based job.

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After the posters were completed and everyone was happy with the result we had a lunch break and enjoyed the sunny and warm weather. This was followed by the option between staying in Stour Space and attending a public speaking workshop or doing gardening at R-Urban for the rest of the evening. Half of the group stayed for the workshop which gave us great insights into the best ways to remain confident when speaking to large audiences and the other half helped out at the mobile garden city hence spending two productive hours helping the local communities.

Considering that some of us had not previously visited Hackney Wick, it is very interesting to reflect on our perception of the area before and after completion of the Global Citizenship Program. Lucia, one of our group members said that “before the program I had not really thought about the impacts of the construction of the Olympic Park and the regeneration in East London. However, (Un)urban has given me a new invaluable insight into how this urban development has affected long established local communities.”

To conclude, even though we finished the program we are all every excited to present our solution in tomorrow’s exhibition and share our ideas with the rest of the strands and organisations that took part in the Global Citizenship Program this year. Special thanks to our navigator Katharina Schöffman for facilitating our learning process throughout the past two weeks and always motivating us and praising us for our ideas.

Day 7: People’s Pop-up Garden

Today the day begun quite stuttered, due to unfortunate train delays, but once everyone got here we were off and achieved a substantial amount of work. Though we did not physically leave and remained in Stour Space the whole day to ensure we could meet the deadline of 12pm tomorrow for our final outputs.

The first task we carried out was in small groups where we came up with a total of three personas (Graham T, Auntie Flower and lastly Kanye W) who would be currently taking up residence in the local area. To do this we used the skills we had gained from the human centred design skills workshop to try and fit into the “shoes” of the character to figure out their needs and wants.

Following this, using divergent thinking (which we were experts on from the workshop) we came up with ideas on how our task and these personas could interrelate. I was surprised by the large number of ideas which we came up with collectively, though I had very few. From this, the postic notes with the ideas were arranged into categories to help narrow down to key themes for the solution and two of these were chosen in relation to two personas to expand upon.

Lots and lots of ideas!!
                    Lots and lots of ideas!!

Splitting into two groups we chose to narrow down all these ideas into two feasible solutions, with the aid of convergent thinking. This entitled us to produce a storyboard, similar to the one from the second session of the human centred workshop, which would show  a narrative of our persona. We found this challenging as we did not always feels we were meeting the task such as reasons to why Auntie Flower would leave her home garden to visit the R-urban site.

And thus is was a good time for lunch!

From our “inspirational” lunch period, and brief discussion, we realised there were two parts to solving the problem with R-urban. These were –

  • How to raise awareness and make people know about the r-urban
  • Facilities/activities which would make people come and maintain their commitment

To carry this out we split into two groups, with the end products of a poster (for the first part) and a model of our proposed park called “People’s Pop-up Garden”. Personally I think the model looks great!

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Day 7: Discussion and Prototyping

Later yesterday, our team set up a specific persona and utilized brainstorming to list all considerable needs in variety of aspects. Our persona is called Vic, who is 10-14 years old and is now living in Hackney Wick. We considered the unique aspects of needs of Vic yesterday.

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Today, we come up with further needs for Vic and practice brainstorming a lot. Considering human-centered design, we come up with new ideas that can help. Meanwhile, we make some changes based on every team member’s opinions in the process and improve our solutions. Then, we face two difference directions: individual issues and needs & connections with other groups of people. So we have a discussion on which of the two shall we focus on. We finally decide to emphasis more on individual issues and needs, which is more important.

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In order to bridge the community, there are several ways to improve it. We can not only setting up activities for children and workshops for older people, but also build up the connections between the two age groups together. Afterwards, we reorganize the order of all the ideas and classify them into different themes: Aspirations-career, education, access, skills, sports, gardening, financial, counselling, entrepreneurship, mentoring, leisure, interaction with artists, working experiences and internship. We choose two most related and representative themes: working experience&aspiration-career&mentoring and art&gardening&education&leisure. Then, our team vote for the most likely to delight people, the most likely to succeed and the most likely to break through innovations. So better solutions are left.

Then, our group is divided into two small groups. One starts the consideration and discussion in the prospective of students coming to Here East while the other group starts in the viewpoint of people living in Here East going to have a connection with students. In order to motivate students to come to hackney wick, firstly, Here East can provide commute coaches for students, which makes it easier and more convenient for students to come to Here East. Secondly, A ranking of Top 5 extra-curriculum courses can be taken inside the school so that students can choose what courses they are interested in and they will definitely have a great passion to come to Here East to study. An introduction of gardening can be taught in school so that students can have a better understanding beforehand. Then, gardening workshops are held in Here East and welcome students to come. Besides, schools can award students for attendance of classes in Here East and the award ceremony can be held in Here East so that students will have a better connection with Here East. Furthermore, for students whose parents do not have a job, schools can organize an introduction in school and guide students to experience more in Here East so that students get to know how important a job is and encourage them to have passion in working.

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In the afternoon, we try to perfect our design in three categories: introduction, interaction and long-term continuity and start prototyping. After 10 minutes, we decide to split into two groups. One is working on students in Year 6 in primary school and the other is working on junior high students from year 7 to year 9. In prototyping, we cover sports, science, technology innovation, art and museum. In fact, each group separates each year into 3 terms so that for each term, students can take part in different activities, make an improvement throughout the period and make a great difference at the end of their junior high study.

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Finally, we are separated into 3 groups. One is working on figures describing what to do, one is working on outcomes and the other one is working on motivations. We will continue to finish our solutions tomorrow!!

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I learned a lot from today’s session. It not only improves my communication and other teamwork skills, but also help me make innovations through brainstorming sessions.

 

Day 6: When Group 5 became guinea pigs for the IGP

Today was the day. The long dreamt, bitterly fought for (by Tony) dream of Group 5 to take on the challenge set by the UCL Institute for Global Prosperity was to be realised in sweltering Hackney Wick.

The morning commenced as usual with a beaming grin from Tony, our group navigator, in Stour Space, Hackney Wick. Aside from his wide smile, we were also welcomed by a set of questions to determine our VAK learning style. This models allows you to discover your preferred learning method: visual (seeing and reading), auditory (speaking and listening) and kinesthetic (touching and doing).

Many of our group members were mostly a blend of two different styles, and we even had members who were an even balance of all three. It was especially interesting to complete this test given our next task for the morning: meeting our challenge setters and receiving a brief on the task ahead.  We basked ourselves on the Stour Space terrace alongside the canal while Connie and Saffron walked us through the IGP Sensory Notation Tool and the way in which they are aiming to refine it to better understand human wellbeing in green spaces. The process of learning the procedure of our challenge enabled us to experience our learning styles in a conscious manner: with some reading through the pack to themselves, some listening intently to the instruction and others focused on giving it a go straight away.

Following the briefing we headed out into the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park to transform ourselves into true sensory experimental guinea pigs for the IGP. At three different locations across the site – Timber Lodge, Tallow Bridge Park and Victory Park – we attempted the seven sections of the Sensory Notation Tool. These included detailing our initial impressions of the green space; ranking each sensory experience for impact, considering the links between different senses; ascribing words to our overall sense of each place, and taking note of aspects of each space that spoke to us as photographs, sound recordings or in any form we saw fit. Each site will be visited twice in total by the end of the week, allowing for varying times and weather conditions to be experienced, with hopefully some interesting results emerging to aid Connie and Saffron’s research.

The process was akin to a lesson in mindfulness. It felt almost novel to take around 45 minutes in each space to sit and acknowledge each incoming sense, trying to notice everything, from the directional nature of the sound of people walking past to the intensity of textures in our field of vision. This process of sensory analysis also followed a few of us home, as we heard a thunderclap and almost immediately labelled it as aural- locational! To then reflect on the individual impact these experiences have on our opinions and perceptions of public places was a very different process to go through while sitting in a park to normal, one that I am fairly sure will stick with us as we experience public green spaces outside the Global Citizenship Project.

Overall we have had another intriguing day in east London, with more intrigue (and some rain) to follow tomorrow!

 

Group 1: Interviewing

Today has been a quite productive day. In the morning we finally had the opportunity to meet the founder of IROKO and to better understand which direction our answer to the challenge should take. The interview was an inspiration for all of us. Not only we clarified our ideas, but we also understood that to be successful with one project, and more generally in life, you need to be passionate and fight for your ideas. We were offered a concrete example of what it means having a dream and being able to make it real. It is hard, but very rewarding.

After the very positive outcome of the interview, we started developing a clearer idea for our project. We arrived at the conclusion that we should focus not on developing other activities for the elderly, but on connecting LLDC and IROKO in order to bring some of the already existing activities into Queen Elizabeth Park. In particular, we thought about a long term partnership between the two organisations, which would in turn allow the development of IROKO’s activities in different areas of the park and at different times of the year.

Being this the main idea, we now needed to be more specific and ‘practical’. In other words we needed to define exactly ‘why’, ‘what’, ‘how’, ‘who’, ‘where’ and ‘when’. This was done for the main general idea. Tomorrow, we will continue by answering the 6 questions above for each project that we want to  bring into the park. It will not be easy, but it will definitely be rewarding (and maybe an inspiration for the future).