Friday, 26 February 2010

Brixton Village Photos

Here are some of my photos from our trip to Brixton. I've just realised that I don't have any photos of the amazing market stalls, which were selling the most incredible assortment of food. These stalls are the life-force of the market, the reason for its existence, and it was interesting to see how the other ventures co-existed with them.

The Taj fabrics shop was home for a project working with recovering drug addicts. They were working with papier-mache, produced from their own shredded medical records.

The Brixton transition towns project offered information about the project for people interested in getting involved, as well as a food-map of the area and a wall on which people could post suggestions about how Brixton could be better. Thanks to Pam and Duncan for taking the time to talk to us.

Thanks to Hannah at the Work Shop for letting us interupt her work and patiently answering all our questions...

Brixton Pound sauce - you can only buy it with Brixton pounds, which caused me a bit of confusion, but I got it in the end (no, I didn't nick it)
Also thanks to Emma in the 'nap' shop, who was actively providing a solution to where people could have 40 winks after lunch.

Day trip to the Brixton Project

Well Laura and I arrived safely back from big London town last night after our research day trip to the Brixton Village Project. We met with Dougald Hind founder of the Spacemakers Agency, the driving force behind the project who gave us a guided tour and an amazing insight into the project. So what did we find learn?

Well after a hearty breakfast in the local greasy spoon we got down to business and began shopping......sorry researching! Brixton has a busy local market community and at the heart of it sits the Granville arcade, however like many of the nations arcades many of the shops have gradually become empty over the years and in desperate need of a little TLC. But thanks to the Spacemakers Agency and their work in bringing life into the empty spaces this little market arcade is thriving once more. The market has a mix of original stalls selling fruit, vegetables & fish alongside the new cafes, restaurants, galleries, workshops and boutique shops.

Laura and I met with Dougald inside the Brixton Cornercopia (a great little cafe which even produces its very own Brixton Brown Sauce which you can only buy with the Brixton Pound!) and had a chat about the project including some of the difficulties in making a project like this happen as well as the great successes and the growing weekly visitors. We also spoke about ARK and the trials and tribulations of establishing a network and what we had achieved so far. Reassuringly Dougald had gone through a similar experience and passed on a few handy tips which we can share with you next Wednesday. We were then given a full guided tour and were introduced to some of the owners and creators.

A true testament to the community spirit was the many co-owned shops and spaces such as The Wonderful World of... this lovely little shop had a quirky mix of renovated furniture, fair trade clothing and hand-made lanterns. Like many of the shops they also run workshops encouraging visitors to 'get involved' and become part of the market community. We also popped into Workshop where they sell a range of  products made from reused and recycled fabrics plus you can try your hand at sewing and upcycling your own clothes, or for the little ones check out the Okido doodle shop.

What was clear was that community integration and involvement at every stage was key ensuring both the new and old tenants could work alongside and support each other. Weekly meetings have become a key part of the process encouraging face to face communication to help build and maintain the community. Dougald and the team are doing an amazing job in facilitating and coordinating the project and the commitment by all is truly inspiring!

So a big thanks to Dougald and everyone we met for being so open and helpful, it will be a big help with our own empty space project and if you are interested in getting involved come and chat to us next wednesday in CAI (we are the ones with the pink socia-bull)

Thursday, 25 February 2010

Assembly train station project

We had our first sessions on this last Wednesday - we just had an open exploration of "accessibility" and how it may relate to the consultation.

One of the issues that became clear for the next stages is the importance of stories (narrative) and how these can provide insights to accessibility issues. They can allow you to explore the problems and issues much more deeply than if you concentrated on technical or architectural solutions.

There can be a tendency to converge on solution or actions to early so hopefully as this design process builds it will shed new and possibly unexpected light on the issue.

(i did say I was going to use the original post for updates but I can't seem to embed images in the comments....)

Monday, 22 February 2010

We have a mascot

Laura came across this on the weekend and it is totally perfect for ARK. Just needs a lick of paint and I think it will be our very own cow, which will hopefully aid people finding us on the night.

ARK mascot

Going pink

Going pink

Finished mascot

Friday, 19 February 2010

Empty shops update

Cardiff city centre has a number of empty shop spaces and so we thought ‘wouldn’t it be great to use them?’

My own particular interest is in design, performance and theatre and so I expressed an interest to my fellow ARKies in setting up a project to turn an empty shop space in Cardiff city centre into a place for performance, storytelling and exchange. At the moment we’re working on finding an empty shop to do the project in, as well as gathering a group of people who would like to take part. A few Wednesdays ago we had a session to come up with ideas for the project and to discuss how it could take shape and some really interesting ideas came out of it.

Then there’s an exciting week ahead – lots of meetings, discussions and visits, including one to the Brixton Village project which I’m really excited about.

I’ll keep updating as things develop, but if anyone wants to get involved come along on Wednesday or get in touch. We’ll be the ones sat around the cow…

How accessible are Welsh Railway stations?

The National Assembly in Wales has launched a consultation into the accessibility of Welsh Railway stations. This is something that ARK are interested in. It is related to one of the projects we identified at our launch event - see the project listed here -

We are not experts in trains or station architecture but we are among those that know trains and train stations the best... the users. We are going to use some design and creativity tools to explore the issue of accessibility and present the assembly with some interesting and hopefully unexpected ideas and actions that hopefully they can take forward. The people working on this project will include product designers, brand designers, photographers, theatre designers, environmental specialists and generally interested people from Cardiff.

below is a very quick and rough brief for the project (thanks to Service Design Tools for the images !!). We will use this post to update everyone of the project as it progresses.

social design presentation

I uploaded the presentation I made last week to the Wednesday club. It was a brief exploration on how I saw social design developing and what were some of the broad issues impacting on design.

It probably isn't the most self explanatory presentation without me waffling through it but the main messages were that all people want to be and can be creative, human networks and relationships are as important as ever, new models of exchange (not only for profit) are emerging and social design ultimately needs to be engaging and fun.

Language, openess and journeys

Over the last few months we have steadily built up new ARKies, many have come to the Wednesday meetings others kept in touch through email and online media. What seems to come up more and more often recently is why not as many people as we would like come to chat and discuss on Wednesday. To this end we have had a bit of feedback that ARK is a bit intimidating and possibly the language used is confusing. Also there is a small issue of knowing who the ARK group is and so who to approach on the evening. With all of this feedback in mind we have come up with a few ideas to help:

1. ARK endeavors to be in the Common Room of Cardiff Arts Institute from 7pm every Wednesday (This is only a start time and even if you can't make it at that time come later as we regularly are still talking well into the evening). If for any reason the room is closed (this week for example CAI were putting up an exhibition), then we will be down stairs generally about 5 or 6 of us some with laptops, others with notepads straining to hear each other :-)

2. Social design is a huge topic and can potentially touch a huge variety of people through there interests. With this in mind instead of just reading mine and Lynsey's Blog's we have decided to add other authors to the blog so you can get a feel for the variety of interested ARKies have. For me personally I think that everyone has something they are particularly interested in exploring, ARK is just a place to explore this further.

3. Following on our cow/bull theme. We are looking to bring a pink toy bull as a mascot. So look out for this when in CAI.

4. If you see me at the bar on a wednesday and I am looking through some coins. I'll have an SA Gold or Cranberry Juice (depends how late it is )

5. Think that is it but if someone else has any experience of setting up groups or wishes to feedback their thoughts let us know by commenting below.

Wednesday, 17 February 2010

Wednesday 17th February - Tea & empty shops

hello its wednesday again and if you want to join us we will be downstairs from 7pm so feel free to pop over and say hello. If its a little noisy we will head upstairs to the games room so check there too.

This week we will be planning a visit to Brixton Village to check out what they have created and hopefully we can post some photos for everyone to see. Plus we will be chatting about our 'Communi-Tea' project where we are hoping to organise a lazy afternoon tea crawl in Cathays.

some come along say hello and have a chat

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Wednesday Club - 10/02/10 - Next big night

The 10th of February is a really important day for us We are going to be doing another Academy and also going to be working on an ideas generation workshop of one of the projects. So if any of you are in Cardiff on the 10th at around 7pm, you are more than welcome to come along to Cardiff Arts Institute and help us out.

In the ideas workshop we will be looking into:

and Business

while this is a broad selection of subjects we hope that this will interest as many people as possible to co-create ideas for a project we are working on.

Sunday nights and a little bedtime story...

There once was a group of friends who met every week. During these meetings there were lots of ideas and ventures that were explored. One day out of the blue a few of the friends set up a skype account to spread the word about how great a bedtime story can be. Ever since the group has broadcast to anyone who is awake, tales of adventurers, philosophical mastery right through to how a bird tweets. SO if you find yourself online at around 10:00pm GMT on a sunday evening, and are feeling like you would like a bedtime story to send you off to the land of nodd, tune in through your skype account.

Search for 'a_bedtime_story' and you will be let into a world of magic and storytelling at it's best. Hope to hear you all there this weekend, and every weekend.

PLACE: Skype, search for 'a_bedtime_story'
DAY: Every Sunday
TIME: 10:00pm GMT