Creating a Learning Street : Inspiration from the Forum des Artisans du Changement
A few weeks ago, I’ve been asked to join in the 2013 edition of the Forum des Artisans du Changement as an “inspiring pioneer” (this word is definitely trendy!). I instantly accepted! The Forum is built on two pillars : 1.the pioneers sharing their personal stories and 2. a knowledge fair, which is an open conversation where any participants can propose a workshop or a theme to explore.
Since we’re on a co-creation roll, I thought we could use this method to explore the concept of “Learning Street”, something E-180 and a mystery collaborator have been developing. If we want to push forward Smart Cities, we will need to define spaces where citizens can informally learn, with hi-fi and low-fi tools.
Here are the fruits of our work. Use them to build you own learning street, whether you live in a city or a village!
1. Questions to guide the discussion
We started the process by selecting the questions on which we wanted to focus, to find as many ways as possible to implement the concept, within an hour.
2. The Guidelines to Create Learning Streets (in no particular order)
Why do we need learning streets? What is the objective? Is it to simply bring more benefits to street’s businesses? Probably not. The street naturally gathers people with common interests. Let’s tap into their potential and multiply the possibilities of peer-learning experiences between visitors, but also between business owners and residents. By doing so, we redefine what it is to be a citizen. Instead of reducing it to voting every 4 years, we develop the range of responsibilities (and the fun they bring!) to take care of and push forward our communities.
Document and value the different forms of learning, which are already happening in public spaces. In the first place, we need to give the necessary tools to citizens, businesses, residents and visitors to develop the awareness of informal learning. For instance, a chalkboard (like in the Before I die project) could be set up in a restaurant and clients could write something they learned such as: “Tonight, I learned that lemon juice and asparagus are good buddies!”
It’s not about re-inventing the wheel. What is the vibe of the street? What are the natural reasons why people gather? Is it for food? for textiles? for antiques? The answer will be a theme on which to focus for the first steps into modelling our learning street. Also, there are probably initiatives that are already fostering learning on the street; why not collaborate with them and promote their work? Using actual tools is a simple way to move faster. For example, most shops have a billboard on which people can post; use them!
Learning is thrilling! Let’s be honest, it is pretty exciting to go in place where you know that everything is set up for you to learn what you want, when you want it! It feels like being a kid (or an adult) in a candy store! What can we do to promote and enhance that energy?
Create an experience that is worth the detour. On a learning street, we want to be able to learn all the time. But, in the beginning of the project, it is more effective to set a learning opportunity at a precise time and space, and to promote this moment as special, which will hook people’s curiosity and imagination. Little by little, events will create momentum and the public opinion will naturally associate the street with an informal learning destination.
Attract the attention of visitors with catchy signage. Use and develop intelligent objects, decorate and identify the learning zone with giant polka dots, set a board or a screen to promote people’s offers or requests for knowledge in an active area, develop affiliated spaces… Be wild and creative when advertising for the special event happening on your street!
Mobilise your champions! Before going all out, make sure you’re not a one wo/man army. Surround yourself with active members of your community, because we find strength in numbers.
We will share these thoughts and ideas with the participants of the Smart City Expo World Congress, in Barcelona, which is happening this week. We will keep you posted with tools and ideas, so that learning streets can pop-up all around the world!!! Thanks to all the participants of the workshop who contributed to push forward the concept and special thanks to the organisors of the Forum for offering us the space and time to do so.
Meet E-180 members who think the city differently!
– Jimmy Paquet-Cormier can share : Elementary notions of news technology in public consultation.
– Antonio Starnino can share : Urban Agriculture