New Urban Voices – Young People, Design and Their Communities
We’re looking to support young people in Dundee and Angus to set-up and run exhibitions showcasing their ideas for change in their local communities. At these exhibitions they will be able to engage with residents, decision makers and a wider group of professionals and interested parties, on their ideas and on young people’s evolving role in making, managing and changing the places that they live.
When it comes to regenerating urban areas, young people are sometimes seen as a problem rather than part of the solution, but we're trying to change that. At Space Unlimited we run projects designed to break this spiral of exclusion by teaming up young people with professional organisations to work together to transform places, communities and services.
In our ‘New Urban Voices’ project (which began in October 2013) we have been using our youth-led approach to try and build this proactive, creative confidence among young people in Dundee and Angus. In partnership with design agency, Creative Frontline (http://creativefrontline.com/), we're working with groups of them, collaborating with experienced designers, artists, and council workers, to design and influence change and development in their local areas.
We’re hoping they can change their communities through the design or re-design of the physical environment around them, and the way people interact with it, and we have been supporting the young people to lead the work in genuine partnership with those more traditionally ‘in power’.
In Dundee the focus has been on re-developing the Derby Street area in Hilltown, to ensure it’s a place that’s both valued and enjoyed by members of the local community, and possibly those from further afield.
In Angus the focus has been on the upcoming community campus, what would make it feel like part of the community, and how it can feel like a valuable resource for the whole community of Forfar and not ‘just a school’.
aiming for this project to have an impact on the real world.
We want it to produce notable physical change in the communities we’re working in so that these young people see the effect that they have had. We want it to change the way that adult professionals work with and involve young people in the future. We want to give these young people the confidence to lead this kind of activity without us, enabling others, who haven’t been involved, to learn from the approach for use in their own work.
The young people recognised very early on that, while they really wanted to see the ideas they had generated come into the world, they wanted to share their ideas and thinking with others, in order to get feedback, adjustments and improvements to the ideas, to make them better and more robust. That’s where you come in…
We need backers to help us support these two groups of young people to design, set-up and run pop-up exhibitions in their local communities, and a short-run, hosted exhibition in Dundee City Centre, based on their work so far. The young people will be in-situ at certain times, speaking to visitors and guests about:
- The concepts they have come up with;
- Why they felt certain ideas would have the desired impact on the communities they were focusing on;
- The experience they have had (and are having) in changing the places they live; and
- What they think young people’s role is in the future.
What difference will the project make?
Most importantly – real change. The groups we’re working with have already made connections with decision makers in their local areas and, in Forfar in particular those interactions are already proving very positive. They’ve also been invited to meet the Cross Party Group on Architecture and the Built Environment, at Scottish Parliament, and are building interest in both their ideas and the work we’re doing together. Other than that, there are other outcomes and outputs we’re also working towards.
The outcomes we’re hoping for:
• For young people: confidence in making change happen; insights and pathways into creative and cultural industries; and transferable skills for life and work.
• For youth workers: new skills and capacity in youth-led innovation as a tool for change.
• For creative professionals: insights for place-making; new skills in community collaboration.
• For planners/ community developers: insights, principles and ideas for future regeneration activity; new capacity in processes that build shared responsibility; and on-going collaboration.
The high level aim is to build capacity at a system wide level so that more organisations regularly involve young people in co-designing approaches to build strong communities while young people benefit in developing their skills, confidence and resilience.
The outputs we’re capturing/producing:
• Public exhibitions to share the ideas and prototypes, engage industry professionals and wider stakeholders.
• Case studies of young people influencing place-making in their communities and possibly having a wider influence through the exhibitions.
• Toolkit and resource pack for those interested in the approach used and what came out of it.
• New co-creative design tools that enable young people to engage in systemic change.
• Stories of change from participants, visitors and stakeholders.
Where we stand right now?
The support for our work to date has come from Creative Scotland, Architecture and Design Scotland and our local authority partners – Dundee City Council and Angus Council. We’ve also had in-kind support from individual volunteers and The Corner, Dundee.
Now we’re trying to support the young people through exhibitions and sharing their work, we’re looking to raise £4,000 to cover the costs of venues, travel, materials, and our time with the young people and adults as we continue to deliver this work. So far we've received support from the RSA, but we really need to hit our target to make this work happen – so, anything you can give will be hugely appreciated by the young people, the adults and us. Thanks for taking the time to read this, and hopefully for contributing to our project.
New Urban Voices is proud to be featured on the RSA curated area on Kickstarter, which selects the best new ideas to help tackle social problems that its 27,000 Fellows are looking to deliver. I’m an RSA Fellow and have been selected to be a part of this. Click here to see more RSA-backed projects and find out more about the RSA.
All the best, Space Unlimited and Creative Frontline.
Risks and challenges
The risk that the venue will cancel/transfer our booking before the funding is secure - we have identified several different possible venues and have local partners in place who can help us source a replacement at short notice if necessary.
Timing and attendance risk:
The risk that some of the young people can't make the times of the exhibition. We've been dealing with the schools and youth organisations to work with the young people on the project, but they have now had a substantial time off timetable - hence we are looking to run the exhibition in the evenings and weekends so as to not impact on school time anymore. We've been working with just over 30 young people and they have shared responsibility on all the tasks so far. This means that, in the event that not all the young people can make every session, for there to be a negative impact here, a very high proportion of the group would have to be absent.
Relationship/ Reputational Risk:
The risk that anything going wrong with the project will adversely affect relationships and reputations. We are managing this risk in a variety of ways. All relevant staff and partners will have full PVG disclosure. All people having contact with young people at events/ exhibitions will sign up to Space Unlimited’s code of conduct to protect young people’s interests. We will be clear with local partners that this is a open innovation process, that people participate voluntarily, that decisions to implement are optional, and that outcomes will emerge through consensus and shared ownership.
- (28 days)