After having recharged our Edventure batteries over the weekend we came into the new week ready to hit the ground running. Having been assigned our roles for the project we began to set out the plan of action for the duration of the remaining weeks. We collaborated group to group and deliberated on how we could begin to piece together the puzzle, each of us being an imperative building block within the process.
A gantt chart was implemented giving us a clear indication of how the final weeks would unwind. The gantt chart offered us clarity on the projection of our plan week to week as well as some transparency on when deadlines would need to be met and when exactly groups would need to collaborate with one another.
Communication is Key !
Wanting to reach as much of the community as possible the communications team had their work cut out for them this week. They got the ball rolling by contacting the Frome Times and having an article published, highlighting our current project for the local community to read about.
With the three volunteer dates as well as the launch event date now set into stone they began creating an advertisement in order to actively promote them. Following the completion of the advertisement it was put to print ready for distribution. Members from the Edventure team distributed the posters/flyers around Frome and the local community in order to maximise the outreach. The social media teams also began their methods of outreach by sharing the event online via Eventbrite, Facebook, e-flyers, etc.
Meanwhile other members from Edventure got down to brass tacks by visiting the Walled Garden and deciding a plan of action for the poly tunnel design/build. Dimensions and measurements totted up, ideas for the design and build of the polytunnel needing to be deliberated before implementation.
Alongside all of this the fellow Edventure students were preoccupied with their tasks at hand. We had all definitely hit the ground running. By the end of the week the foundations had been laid and the groundwork set. All ready and eager for the first volunteer date hastily approaching as well as the continuation of our pre-determined tasks going forward… However of-course, after some much needed rest over the weekend.
This phase began on Wednesday afternoon after we had presented our ideas to Johannas, Sam and Amelia, and the rest of the group. It was amazing to see how far we had come with our individual presenting skills. We felt relaxed and confident and the Edventure team were very impressed. However, the review session with Sam afterwards made our brains go from calm → frazzled as she seemed to have many ideas of her own, and instead of continuing the flow of our condensed ideas, she opened up all of the potential possibilities of what could be achieved a lot wider than we had anticipated!
So, Wednesday morning began with a check in about how we felt about Tuesday’s entire session. It seemed that in general the group felt overwhelmed and thankfully, we found out that Johannas had distilled both ours and her plans the previous night, ready to give us a brief to go into the next phase. Then after lunch, we dived into the process of transforming ideas into plans…
On Thursday morning we organised our “to do” lists into weekly plans. Using post – it notes and a piece of paper representing each week, we began to create timelines. We had arranged the tasks into categories the previous day, and we broke into 5 teams to start noting ideas of what needed to happen when. The smaller teams then all came together to explain what they had decided on the time scale of now only 5 more weeks to go! The afternoon of the end of the week ended how it usually does, with an activity to decompress and review, facilitated by Amelia. This activity included each of us making our own pie shape out of circles, and dividing it into slices of advice for ourselves, as a source of self – help, so that we can be our best, thriving selves for the rest of the Edventure course. We found this to be a really therapeutic exercise, and then afterwards talked about what qualities we wanted to bring into next week working together.
On Monday morning we were assigned the task of curating roles for all the different things that needed to be done after putting them into categories. The group divided into their small teams again to come up with roles, which were then presented to the group, although we didn’t feel like we left enough time – only 10 minutes! In the afternoon, we had a guest called Andy come in to do personality tests with us, using “colour energies” and trying to see which people resonated with what colours the most. He did this by encouraging the group to work both individually, and to give personal feedback to the rest of their team members, in an aim for people to understand what kind of roles might suit them the most. We found that this was fun and a nice way to empower people with positive feedback. We did however feel that putting people into categories can also be limiting, and that, actually we may in fact resonate with many different ‘colour energies’ at different times in our lives.
Feedback from Tammie, Edventure student, for the session with Andy:
“I found that looking at the different aspects of myself and what that means to what I bring to a role really insightful, and has really helped me look at what aspects I can really draw on and what areas I need to develop and be kind to myself with.”
The BIG DAY! On Monday night we were assigned the homework of deciding what role we wanted and why- categorised into our top 3, and on Tuesday morning we each had to “sell ourselves” to the group of what roles we wanted. The next part was awkward and tricky, to say the least, as a lot of people wanted similar roles and it felt quite confrontational to put people up against each other with everyone in the room. However, the team handled it really well, and we were all kind, reasonable and respectful in our insights and choices. After almost 4 hours of decisions, and Amelia and Zak facilitating, we were finally assigned to our roles, and not only roles we were good at, but also ones we wanted, so in general, everyone left the ‘interview day’ feeling satisfied. Then after lunch, it was straight into planning our 3rd presentation!!
Wednesday and Thursday …
On Wednesday morning the team put together a presentation where they described what roles they had decided, and what needed to be done by when, with key dates and rough plans. The team divided into lead and co-lead roles to do this, and in general we found that we felt a lot more relaxed for this presentation. Amelia, Johannas and Sam were impressed, and left us, this time, with more digestible feedback than last time, so that we could crack on with the doing, and enter the next phase ready with energy and enthusiasm for “action”.
Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning involved us diving into our tasks, and fulfilling our roles, and then on Thursday afternoon, as per custom, we had our weekly review, but in a new and greener setting. The team went to a nearby wild forest spot to build a fire, share food, and feedback on this phase, and how we felt moving into our “independent” roles. This afternoon was our favourite so far, being so nature-based as a group, we found it a highly nourishing experience!
This phase felt very positive and joyful in many ways. Ideas want to be seen, talked about, developed and celebrated – they crave love and acceptance. During the research phase of this project it was often difficult for all of us, including Sam our client, to hold back on the ideas. We held back because, as we had learned from Johannes, research should be focused observation of what actually is not what could be. Jumping ahead can lead to oversights or dangerous assumptions being made. After diligently working on our research topics to gain insights, finally, we were allowed to let our ideas burst out, and so they did, enthusiastically and in great numbers!
We were treated to a fantastic training session from Jude Claybourne who showed us ways to be physically embodied throughout ideas generation and how to sync our rhythms together so that we could collaborate effectively as a team. We did this by using a form of group play that sharpened our focus while bringing out optimism and humour.
Jude also taught us about 3 distinct stages or ‘hats’ to wear while working on ideas; the dreamer, the realist and the critic.
The dreamer has no limitations, all ideas are good! We practiced celebrating each other’s ideas, shouting “HELL YEAH!” and building on wild ideas spontaneously, thick and fast. This was a fantastic exercise and we all felt liberated and energised. The realist then puts on his hat and says, “Great idea -so, how? who? when? what will be needed?” This stage takes the wild and wonderful ideas of the dreamer and builds them hypothetically, making them more real by adding detail. Finally the critic enters the room and picks holes in the work of the previous two, essentially trying to break it by finding its flaws and weaknesses. This is not for the pleasure of bringing an idea down, of course, but to make it stronger and more viable. Could this idea in fact work?
We worked in teams to develop ideas for 3 intertwined areas of the project: the offer, the physical space and communications. The greatest challenge we faced was to cope with the huge quantity of ideas that we came up with. Post-it notes galore!
My greatest insight from this process was the understanding that ideas are not strokes of genius or the result of one person’s ambition, but in fact the result of mashing things together, constructive, cooperative building, with a genuine desire to solve a problem and meet someone’s needs.
I particularly enjoyed the prototyping element when we made quick mock-ups to aid in developing our ideas and to use as part of our presentations. I spent a couple of hours making a mock-up model of the walled garden space. Other team members made quick mock-ups of posters, mood boards and sketched designs.
Here we are all together presenting our ideas to Sam and the rest of the team at Edventure!
At the end of the phase we recapped our work and our learning as is customary at Edventure by doing something fun together – this time we played pictionary.
Finally, a big thanks from the whole team to Tammie for facilitating this phase! Well done!
Having spent the previous week laying the foundations and ‘building community’ through learning about each other and hosting the Edventure Soup evening, I was personally very excited and intrigued by the next step in the process – the “Research” phase. The team also grew in numbers as Jake arrived in Frome and joined us on our Edventure adventure.
I reviewed the details of the phase in our weekly Student Handbook:
“Discovery. It’s about gathering inspiration, insights, absorbing and making sense of information related to the group’s challenge. Your task is to take everything you learn through this phase and refine it into a presentation to give to the Edventure team and your client, Samantha.“
Right. Climbing K2 was suddenly feeling like a more achievable goal! However… we were not sent off into the wilds without supplies or survival skills…
Our journey began with the question “Where do ideas come from?” Discovering where ideas originate was merely the first step in this incredible process. But where do ideas come from? This was just the beginning…
Johannes supplied us with a series of tools for navigating our way through this challenge. These included considering different types of research, reviewing a fantastic 80’s video entitled “The Deep Dive – IDEO Shopping Cart” (I found myself wondering “How deep can you really dive in a shopping cart?”) and some tips on how to stay on the path to “good research”.
Having discussed the root of ideas and how to research, we were then advised to “hold off” on the ideas… “Right. Dive into research. Find inspiration. But then don’t have ideas”…. Hummm….
Climbing K2 whilst blindfolded was seeming like an easier option than this!
But nevertheless we donned our thinking caps and brushed off our enquiring spirits to take on the challenge. We split into 4 groups, each group taking one area of research from the following: 3 detailed case studies of similar initiatives; customer / stakeholder research including facilitating a stakeholder workshop; an interview with Sam as our client and a site visit and considering the ‘bigger picture’ through research and expert input. So, off we started on our different research paths, with only a few days before meeting back at the point of presentation.
I was personally involved in the group tasked with delving into customer research. The Stakeholder workshop was deemed a success with 10 people attending, all with lots to pass on about The Walled Garden at Mells and therapeutic horticulture. We posed three key questions which were “How could the space be used?”, “How does the space need to be adapted?” and “Who would benefit from using this space?”. Although we gathered a fair amount of insight from this research, surely there were many more people we needed to engage with to conduct our research?
We had some phone conversations, organised some meetings and stumbled across an opportunity that was almost too good to believe! The morning before the presentation, our research team, with support drafted in from the other teams, hosted a focus group with over 50 over-65 year olds at the Frome and District Day Centre.
Now the ‘easy’ bit had been traversed… the next step was to distill our research into four 5-10 minute presentations. By the following day.
K2. Blindfolded. Wearing flip flops. That’s all I have to say about that.
However, the teams took this in their stride and presented to our client Sam, to our facilitator team and to other members of the Edventure family.
These are some of the key points to highlight from each research group.
1. The Bigger Picture: present what you learn from the experts you meet and from reading about therapeutic horticulture.
2. Case Studies:present business plans and the physical set up of similar initiatives to show how they work.
Delving deeper into the case of Bristol-based initiative “The Propogation Place” at “St Werburghs City Farm”:
3. Customer Research:present what you learn from talking to potential stakeholders through a focus group and/or an interview format.
4. Client Interview and Site Visit:find out about the physical space, what are the restrictions, immovable things, assets etc.
Our very talented “in-house” designer developed this to depict some key aspects from our research about The Walled Garden at Mells.
So…having taken our various paths to our next stop-off point: “Research Presentation”, we regrouped, refuelled and rested, ready to embark on the next steps of our journey.
With a few spare minutes, we also put together our short “Top Tips for Fundraising” video – check it out on the Edventure facebook page!