I took part in the Global Service Jam in Dundee in March 2013. This was the first service jam I had joined in Dundee, although I had taken part in the Glasgow Service Jam in both 2011 and 2012. Plus during my five years of design studies (in Glasgow, Cologne and Paris), I was lucky to take part in a number of short week-long projects that had similar elements to a jam.
I think to really enjoy a jam you have to start the weekend with the right mindset, and you need to make sure you have charged your energy resources (that means get some sleep before and remember to plug in camera/ipad to charge at the same time).
My motto for the Dundee weekend in March reflected that of the Jam organisers and it was to have as much fun as possible – it was the weekend after all. I knew that the most successful projects I’d seen in previous jams were from people that didn’t spend hours talking about a project, but those who got out into the city to talk to people, who made quick decisions and gave themselves enough time to prototype a project well – even if based on a simple idea.
The surprise theme for the weekend was ‘Grow Up’, but we somehow misheard it and thought it was ‘Grow’. So we worked with the theme of ‘Grow’ for our initial brainstorm on Friday. So although the first lesson may be to listen better, I think the second is that sometimes mistakes guide a project – as it was definitely ‘grow’ and not ‘grow up’ that planted the seed for our ideas.
The Friday night started with inspiring talks about design skills, some big group brainstorming sessions, forming teams for the weekend, then developing ideas. The team forming started by standing underneath one of the post-its that had been pulled out as a key issue from the main ideas in the brainstorm. I remember nervously standing on my own under the issue that had caught my attention, and feeling incredibly relieved when a few more people stood underneath the issue with me – it was David, Craig and Jo. The team grew again when Finlay and Alina joined and we were left with a pretty awesome group of people, none of whom I had known prior to the jam. But we later became known as The Pollinators.
On Saturday morning our the newly formed team, The Pollinators, jumped out to the allotments and the botanic gardens to do some quick research. It was a surprisingly sunny day and we were pleased to find lots of people dotted around the allotments who were happy to answer a few of our questions. I remember one particular family we spoke to because their son had fiery red hair and a witty personality. He jokingly remarked in response to his mum saying they had started the allotment because she wanted to teach him where food came from with: “I know where chips come from – the fish and chip shop!”.
We then jumped back to the working space to gain insights and develop a service idea. This process became quicker as the day flew by, and we gained some brilliant project advice from Taylor Haig and the Jam Doctors throughout the day.
So by the end of Saturday we had resolved our concept and set about prototyping it in a visual, engaging and fun way. We built a small scale prototype model, and a larger life-size prototype space to film a short scenario in.
Sunday morning flew by as well – as we wrote a script and storyboard for our video, a business plan for our service, mocked up a website and filmed, then edited a quick video which made us laugh (alot). I think we may have inadvertently created the most colourful business plan ever!
I always feel that it is really valuable to take part in events like this, because they give me a real energy buzz, they remind me of short University design projects and they allow me to meet some great new faces. In fact, for me this is one of the most valuable things to come out of the Dundee Jam.
Following on from this Jam experience and it was after talking to David over a few beers that a group of us decided to organise Dundee’s first Global Sustainability Jam. Organising this design event has been an equally quick process to confirm venues, reach out to collaborators, confirm speakers and start spreading the jam! But it is happening on the 22nd November and you can read more about it at www.dundeeservicejam.wordpress.com. Plus you can book a ticket on Eventbrite.