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!