Lab Notes #9 | Celebration of Doing

Lorna Prescott
Dec 17, 2017 · 4 min read
Photo credit: Thom Bartley

Over 80 people of all ages who have been actively involved in hands on doing in projects this year were invited to a Celebration of Doing at gather on 7 December. The evening was an opportunity for the Lab Team to share and check back with people on the collective insights from research which doers have generously contributed to in a range of ways. It was also an invitation to be part of the co-creation of a scrapbook we are producing which will draw out themes, observations, stories and more from our research.

Our lab approach to learning (detectorism) is ongoing, open to all and helps inform the nurturing of creative spaces, doing, and sharing in Dudley. Creating invitations, like the celebration of doing, where everyone feels comfortable and energised by the sharing and capturing of our collective insights is an important part of that learning culture. The evening was also an opportunity to say a big heartfelt thank you for the investment of time, and sharing of reflections and ideas through the detectorism that so many of the doers have generously given over the course of 2017.

The evening started gently, with individuals, couples and families arriving and milling around with food and drink. Once there were around 30 people present we shared the themes emerging from our research and invited everyone to add responses to these on 5 giant scrapbook pages around the room. We also launched a Facebook Group which we’ll be using to help people connect and share ideas in the run up to Do Fest 2018 and beyond. You’re warmly invited to join the Redesign Dudley Facebook group

The photos in this post are just a small selection, you can see more in our Flickr album

Reflections and learning

It was great to bring people together for something as simple as eating, drinking and chatting. We were reminded that doing together — as with all our projects — breaks down the usual norms of interaction with strangers in public spaces that often act to separate and isolate us. Instead strangers chatted away knowing they have common ground in gather and the doing they have all contributed to over the year. Regular Bring and Share meals and other kinds of sociable gatherings should feature in our plans for 2018.

Our doers are naturally curious and invested in the growing of doing at gather and in Dudley more generally. They thirstily read each other’s responses to the 5 research themes and these in turn acted as prompts for deeper individual reflection, or the chance to have bonding conversations with other doers and team members about their experiences of doing.

The giant scrapbook sheets reflecting research themes were great at prompting responses and conversations, however the A5 cards we made with more detailed insights weren’t as interesting as the opportunity to write, stick, draw and create! On reflection it was worth the time invested in pulling together highlights from the research in this way as we can use it in all sorts of ways. We already have plans for using the cards in some sessions with people from local organisations in January.

While we didn’t go into the detail of the research findings the headline themes acted to bring to the fore in doers consciousness the knowledge that their own experiences of the benefits and impact of doing and sharing together in creative ways was common to other doers. The intimacy of stories and experiences they subsequently shared about their experiences and aspirations continues to enrich and inform this work.

Although not all members of our Lab Team could make it, it felt good to have everyone who was there actively involved. We each looked after a theme, which meant we all got to take part in conversations and reflections about CoLab Dudley and gather.

Once again we noted that creating spaces and events like the Celebration of Doing that nurture the participation of everyone — no matter their age or background — is a leveller. Equal status and kindness are prioritised. Everyone’s contribution is celebrated.

The celebration was another moment for doers and Lab Team members to practice and reinforce the norms of kindness, reciprocity, mutuality, creativity and welcome that these projects and gather intentionally nurture. The value of gather as an authentically welcoming and creative space in which people connect was continually reinforced through conversations and responses to the research. The comments by doers at the celebration that make explicit the common value felt for these experiences, spaces and invitations to do together further galvanizes the collective appetite and interest in participating in more and in new creative ways in 2018. Keep an eye on, spread the word about, and most importantly come and get involved in #RedesignDudley

Tweets from the evening

Notes and reflections by Lorna Prescott and Jo Orchard-Webb
Photos by Thom Bartley

CoLab Dudley

Observations, interactions and reflections from a social lab on Dudley High Street