On Friday March 16th, the first SmartUrbI Local Living Lab took place in Amsterdam Nieuw-West. More specifically, in Amsterdam Osdorp, 2 researchers, 3 external partners and 8 smart urban intermediaries came together to discuss and exchange ideas on what it means ‘to make a difference in your neighborhood’. We were well-facilitated by Lucas Community who prepared a superb lunch and a good venue.
After the lunch, in a round of introductions everyone articulated their expectations of this meeting. Some already indicated that a meeting as this was very valuable ‘’since . Others mainly wanted to share knowledge and aimed to get to know other people. After this round of introductions, the research team took some time to explain the background, cause and rationale of the research project and meanwhile also tried to make visible what we expected of this group in terms of participation in the upcoming months.
This was followed by a plenary discussion about the question ‘what does it mean to make a difference in your neighbourhood’. Participants were invited to write on post-its their associations and then we collectively tried to cluster those in some groups. Articulated clusters about ‘what it means to make a difference’, were about:
- Connecting (contact, making connections, believing in the power of people)
- Sustaining (working hard)
- Attitude (renewing, seducing, subservient, openness)
- Drives/ incentives (passion, simplicity, growing, yes we can)
- Competences (mirror for policymakers, local knowledge, listening, whispering and talking)
Based on the gathered knowledge the group was separated in 3 subgroups in which they had to formulate answers to three main questions:
- How do you go about making a difference in your community/neighbourhood?
- What helps/enables you to make a difference in your community/neighbourhood?
- What hinders you when you’re trying to make a difference in your community/neighbourhood?
The groups actively discussed those in three timeslots (carousel) of 15, 10 and 5 minutes, adding up information to each other’s findings in different colors.
After the Carrousel there was a plenary session in which the subgroup discussions inspired the plenary and final discussion about which issues we should need to take along in our research. Which themes stand out and which issues need (more) attention. This discussion showed the relevance of issues such as:
- Conditioning (expectations and how this influence behavior)
- Ethics, values, how to keep close to your own values
- Passion/ drives/ incentives
- Change, movement
- Finding and giving personal inspiration
- How does a smarturbi designs/ gives shape to oneself
- Learning of others (like this afternoon)
Thus, we invited participants to identify ‘key themes’ and review the top themes and ask the group to turn them into questions that can be investigated in preparation for the 2nd lab. It seems that the topic of values, ethics and trust seemed to resonate by most of our group. The group highlighted the importance of reflection also on how they do what they do (design/ shape topic), but especially how professional and personal ethics/ values AND trust has a role in their daily practices was an important theme identified. Finally the meeting was evaluated, some next steps were explained and the whole group was truly thanked for their discipline, time and efforts. The session was closed off with some nice drinks and bites, again well served by Lucas Community.
Overall, we had a very productive meeting by video presentations, plenary discussions, post-it writings and subgroup exchanges we collected a broad range of insights that stimulated this network of smart urban intermediaries, will help us to sharpen our research focus and enable us to design the upcoming Living Labs in a collaborative fashion. The next Living Lab will be in the beginning of July.