Photo credit: Ori Nevares
Eastside Works Design Jam – Lessons Learned
Austin Lui is currently completing his Master’s degree at the School of Community and Regional Planning (SCARP) at UBC. Austin is a Project Coordinator with LEDlab, working on the Eastside Works project under the guidance of EMBERS.
Over the past few months, a lot has been happening with the development of Eastside Works (formerly “The Lux”). To learn more about Eastside Works and my project, see the project description, or my past blog. The space is finally ready to host people, and we did so as soon as we could.
We hosted our first event, the “Design Jam” in the new space on January 18, 2018. It was facilitated by ZAS Architects + Interiors and myself. Staff, partner organizations, and community members, gave input on the design of the space. More specifically, the goals were to seek input on making the space welcoming, revealing the inside of the space to the street while maintaining privacy, and meeting the programming needs within specific areas in the space.
13 people attended the session. We provided honorariums, but unfortunately due to a scheduling mix up, fewer community members came than expected. This event’s primary purpose was to get community members input, so we decided to go across the street to the Downtown Eastside Street Market to recruit anyone who was free to join us. We hit the streets with cookies from Potluck Catering and recruited one person who seemed enthusiastic about a new economic development initiative. He shared a valuable perspective to the conversation. His contributions were integral to the discussion, reminding us of the importance of involving community members in the process.
It is important to reflect on these challenges, and share these learning opportunity. The social innovation model encourages an iterative approach to designing and evaluating initiatives. This model recognizes that no one has all the answers, especially in complex systems. Mistakes will be made. Learning from them is the key to success.
Meetings, scheduled events, and boardroom discussions are mediums of conducting business in which many in the professional non-profit world are familiar. However, upon reflection, this may not be the best way to involve community members. These types of meetings and events may be less familiar to community members that do not adhere to the 9 to 5 office schedule. Hosting events at a specific time can be a barrier for people with conflicting schedules, and it may seem daunting to have to commit to a 2 hour long event.
Considering these lessons learned, we will be hosting informal drop-in sessions in the space every Wednesday and Friday until we open in late March. This will give us a chance to introduce ourselves and welcome people to the space on their own schedule. Everyone will be welcome during these drop-in sessions. Come any time to learn more about Eastside Works, and provide any input on the space.
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