A few random thoughts on week 1: Communities — Definition programme

Weeknotes for SIDE Labs’ programme with ACRE, Back Up Trust, IMM, Margate Bookie, MEWSo and WellChild.

Jemima Gibbons
Published in
4 min readFeb 25, 2021


The Miro Board we’ve set up as a working space. Partners use stickies to map user needs and other essential information

We had the first session yesterday. Everyone seems really nice. Really lovely, passionate people and really interesting projects. A very diverse bunch of projects and initiatives. All really valuable. Excited about developing/ co-designing solutions for all of them!

Here are they are:

ACRE / Back Up Trust / WellChild
  • ACRE — supports communities in rural England
  • Back Up Trust — helps people live full lives with spinal cord injury
  • WellChild — supports children with serious health needs and their families
Intergenerational Music Making / MEWSo supports Middle Eastern / The Margate Bookie
  • Intergenerational Music Making — brings people together through music
  • MEWSo — supports Middle Eastern, North African and Asian women
  • The Margate Bookie — runs literary and creative events for writers

Time flew by and we didn’t get a chance to finish the user needs exercise. Hopefully people will be able to complete before next week’s session.

It was great to have Joe from OWL but Andy forgot to tell us he was coming so he took up 15 mins of the schedule and knocked things out. Completely not Joe’s fault. If we’d known he was popping by, we would have factored that in and everyone would have had a smoother experience.

Joe said this was the “warmest, fastest” team-bonding he’s seen — not sure if “ever” or “this week” — but I’ll take the first! Thanks Joe!

GIF of Snoopy dancing with Linus and Lucy on grass with blue sky behind

Some participants are worried that their problem is not a “community” based one, or that the solution doesn’t need to be “community” based. Hopefully we can iron that issue out.

One person had to leave early which was frustrating for her. Hopefully once we get into a rhythm with our comms and meeting times that’s less likely to happen.

Not everyone is familiar with Slack. Also complaints about too many emails (ironically)! We’re going to try to focus on using Slack — getting everyone over there as seamlessly and painlessly as possible.

We had a conversation about too many platforms and how you can end up working all over the place, using many apps. It’s true — email doesn’t “end” just because you start using other collaborative comms channels.

All this made me think of Luis Suarez, the IBM evangelist who started campaigning 13 years ago THIS WEEK for #NoeMail — see below. He never managed to get to inbox zero (although he did cut down).

Luis’ experience possibly doesn’t sound that appealing to people who are asking us, “Why bother moving to Slack?”

One of the many articles about Luis’ campaign to end emails

[NOTE: When I checked Luis’ Twitter to see where he’s at in the battle for #NoeMail, I found he’s moved on and is now campaigning against LinkedIn.]

But back to our programme…

We want to work at speed to develop and test prototypes, but at same time, want to find out more about participants and their projects. All so interesting and so much going on. There’s a tension between which direction to choose.

When I was chatting to my Design Club team this week, I realised it was like putting the “definition” stage before “empathy” in the design thinking process.

Btw, working with Andy and Noam is awesome. The last time I worked with them both was 20 years ago. If people find that hard to believe (I do), here’s some pics of us holidaying at Glastonbury in 2003 (with Andy’s wife, Riz).

Spot the differences!

Camping at Glastonbury Festival in 2003 (left to right): Noam, Jemima, Andy & Riz



Jemima Gibbons

Engagement, social media and content design / co-founder @DesignClub / #techmums #oneteamgov / #MonkeysWithTypewriters book + blog / #ABeachWithWiFi blog