We have tested these with a number of community groups, Lancaster City and County Councils in addition to sharing with our international PROUD partners.
We felt the time was right to runs a series of events to share these tools with others in the region. Partly to enable them to use the tools as we have conceived them but also to start to adapt them to their own, sometimes very specific needs.
These activities acted as a stepping stone into a new set of design projects scheduled for spring 2014.
We ran 3 events.
The first of these was specifically aimed at small local community groups who there very active with their (often very niche) communities but were very resource limited. These communities include a friends group for a local park, an environmental awareness charity and a charity set up by 2 mothers of children with disabilities who wanted to improve the provision for their children.
Unique KidZ now runs a group that works with 130 children with disabilities and are very keen to use the techniques and tools to help then engage with ‘hard to reach’ children with very particular physical and cognitive needs. For this group we are currently working on low cost / cost free tools.
The second event we ran was hosted by Lancaster City Council. They run a consultation group of people inside and outside local government that engage actively and creatively with the general public. These ranged from Library services, to trading standards, to the team concerned with sexual health to larger charities such as Cancer Care.
This event was used as a showcase to demonstrate the ‘zoner’ and ‘commenter’ tools developed by PROUD for Lancaster City Council. In particular the commenter tool system was very popular as we used this interactive idea generating and gathering tool to explore how these tools could be used by the participants.
This lead to a number of requests for loaning the equipment (which we have agreed to) but also demonstrated the demand for this type of public sector, highly visual tool to be further developed. This is also something we are undertaking in the next phase of the PROUD project.
The final event in this part of PROUD was a demonstration and idea generating session with the design research group Imaginationlancaster at Lancaster University (http://imagination-old.lancs.ac.uk). The UK team of PROUD are based in Imagination and we know some of the projects running through this center.
This event was about explicitly drawing connections between the design research undertaken in Imagination and innovative knowledge exchange tools. The research undertaken by the lab is considerable with an active portfolio of research worth over €35 million and ranked top 3 in the UK for design research.
Many of these projects involve community engagement for example a major project is a cross disciplinary, 6 year project called Livable Cities looking at evaluation and working with communities to improve the urban experience, other projects are looking at sustainability, digital empathy and new community-led trading systems, all of which have a very active engagement with communities. Embedding the learning and experience of our PROUD tools design and knowledge exchange processes has the potential to have a significant long terms impact both in the UK and through Imaginations international projects Europe.