Week 23 « Designing Dublin: Learning to Learn

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Week 23 – Book club with Lindsay

Friday, March 11th, 2011

On a giddy Friday, Lindsay took his turn on the book club with ‘Who’s your City?’ by Richard Florida. Florida previously wrote ‘The Rise of the Creative Class’, a book which proved highly influential around the importance of creativity in business. ‘Who’s your City?’ is a departure from this work, acting as a handbook for helping people to choose which City to live in. Florida’s theory is that places remains distinct and are growing more diverse and specialised. The “spiky world” theory explores the importance of place in the global economy and charts the reality of globalisation under key themes – population, economic activity, innovation and scientific discoveries. It also defines what people hold as important in Cities such as physical aspects, opportunities, leadership and openness. The book advises how to balance the economic traits of a City with the lifestyle opportunities it provides when choosing where to live. Florida proposes a practical 10-step guide for choosing the right City for your personality, which asks you to consider: What is most important to you right now? What do possible options offer you? Does it get you excited? These questions had the team excited, but we were quite disappointed to find there were no right answers! Lindsay recommends ‘Who’s your City’ to people thinking of moving or even for people who would like to remember why they chose to live in their City.

Week 23 – Visit from John Harrington

Wednesday, March 9th, 2011

John Harrington spoke to the team today about sustainability and introduced the Natural Step theory. With a background in advertising, John emigrated to San Francisco for 10 years, and upon returning to Dublin began questioning the problems products were creating, and how to get to the heart of the problem. Sustainability is a hot topic these days, with many understandings of what it is. The Natural Step proposes a framework to make sense of sustainability through a scientific methodology and John began a business where he helps pubic and private organisations implement sustainability in their workplace, using the Natural Step theory. The method works towards securing future human needs by finding what changes need to occur now, identifying actions to create this change and tools which can make it happen. The need for a sustainable approach is evident – the issues with climate change, limited resources and pollution are now effecting all areas of the world. The Natural Step highlights four steps towards a sustainable approach in nature by decreasing – substances extracted from the earth’s crust; substances produced by society; degradation of nature and people meeting their needs first, in an unsustainable fashion.

This approach aims to peel away the layers of complexity surrounding sustainability. John emphasized the need to get not just companies but people to buy into a sustainable way of living. We all have an impact and it’s just about choosing one way or another. This proved a controversial point, with the team questioning how we as individuals can live in a more sustainable way while balancing the more immediate demands of everyday life. A very enlightening talk, the Natural Step is a theory that we can all take away from the project and apply to our lives as we find best.

Real Eyes: www.realeyes.ie

Week 23 – Prototyping gets underway!

Tuesday, March 8th, 2011

This week has seen each project begin to wade through the web of logistics and preparations needed to make the prototypes come alive! We met stakeholders, bought materials, designed posters, made models, invited people to processes, planned events, booked venues, discovered collaborators, tested the limits of health and safety and tested potential outcomes. The team are flying through these preparations to get the prototypes on the streets as soon as possible. Along the way, we have realised the importance of always questioning why we are doing what we are doing – is it answering the ‘Lack of…’ we began with? At this stage, this is crucial to ensure what we prototype addresses the issue and we stay on track. When working at such a speed, it’s easy to lose sight of where we began and why it is important. The team are remembering to step outside the project and look again, more closely, which keeps us all going in the right direction!

We also discovered along the way, the difficulties in getting a prototype off the ground in the City. Each project has encountered many barriers and blockages, from long-term leases to health and safety, to public liability to permissions. These are legitimate concerns, and we have been working within the system to address them. It highlights the differences in thinking between a test project and a more traditional long-term project. There is very little flexibility in the system to enable testing an idea. Imagine what the City could be if it were a hotbed of testing! This is what we are trying in the Market’s Area – if you’re intrigued, keep an eye on the blog for upcoming events as the prototypes hit the streets!