Day 7 – Wrapping things up, for now

Final day, and I have to say it has been a tough week. Tough and rewarding, actually. What started as a huge ‘mess’ of solution, problems, and frustrations was concluded with five project presentations. The ideas ranged from a bulletin board to cafés and festivals, and although the solutions were diverse in nature, they all were geared towards making the lives of people living in Yuzhnoportovy better.

In the end, what were the learning outcomes of this workshop? In the beginning we – the workshop facilitators – gave a value proposition to the participants: by the end of this workshop you would know how to 1) identify problems (cartography + ethnography), 2) propose solutions to problems (business canvas), and 3) sell your solutions to relevant stakeholders (brand + business canvas + cartography). So, not only did the participants come up with solutions to actual problems, but they also learned how to apply these methods to other aspects of life, too!

Day 6 – Branding solutions and telling stories

After the day off, it was time to focus on crafting a story to support the solution. As we see it, proposing a solution to a problem is only one part of the issue at hand: what is also needed is a story – or a brand – to connect with the people affected by the solution. With this assumption in mind, the participants started with word association tasks: how does our solution feel, what does it look like, what do we want to communicate with it?

Shifting away from the actual, even concrete, project by focusing on the branding aspect, the participants were able to let their imagination run wild as various kinds of word associations started to emerge!

Day 5 – Day off – on seeing things differently

Since our workshop lasts for a total of seven days, it is more than necessary to have a day off somewhere in the middle. This serves two purposes: first, it gives the participants time to reflect on what they have gone through so far, and second, it also makes it possible to gain distance to the tasks at hand.

Thus, what we did was that we asked the participants to test their ideas during Day 5 with friends and strangers. Gaining feedback already during the process helps to steer the solutions away from the worst pitfalls. Or in other words, stepping back from the solution and talking to outsiders helps us in seeing the blind spots better.

Day 4 – Business models as transformation facilitators

When it comes to solving systemic or individual problems, formulating how and why to start is more often than not one of the biggest challenges. To counter this, we utilized the Business Model Canvas (BMC) as a tool to reorganize and sharpen our thoughts.

Despite its shortcomings, the BMC works relatively well as an idea generator. Not only does it clarify your current solution, but it can also give rise to completely new – sometimes even innovative – solutions!


Day 2 – Cartography and ethnography as basis for understanding needs and identifying problems

To identify societal – or systemic – problems, we believe cartography and ethnographic to be some of the most effective and enlightening methods. Bearing this in mind, we sent the students to the district today to gather data about people, interaction, places, and so forth.

After a half-day ethnographic exercise in Yuzhnoportovy, the participants returned to Strelka with numerous problems and challenges identified there. Main focus was on people, spaces, and technologies, and interactions between these. As a result, the participants made their first map of Yuzhnoportovy with problems mapped on it.

Photograph by Maria Encha.

Day 1 – Ready, steady, intervene! Or an Aalto University approach to transforming cities

How do you transform cities through the combination of design, business, and technology? Furthermore, how does mapping of people, spaces, and technology help us in seeing our cities and their problems in a different light? These questions serve as a starting point for our workshop, in which our aim is to identify problems through ethnographic methods and cartography, and to offer solutions that are based on business-driven tools.

To keep matters simple and effective, we have divided the workshop into three interconnected themes: mapping, modeling, and implementation. Each module lasts two days, and they will teach the participants different tools and methods on transforming cities through business, design, and technology.

People make places… our week in Otradnoe

Author: Jona Piehl

Just back from Moscow where we hosted a workshop at Strelka Institute over the last week.

Together with 15 students from all kinds of professional backgrounds (just as we like it, from financial advisors and sociologists all the way to architects) we explored the district of Otradnoe in the north of Moscow — starting with a derive and ending with a grand finale where the students’ proposals around community building and strategies to facilitate communication and exchange were shared with the people of Otradnoe.

The group of people dressed up in red raincoats and A-Boards must have been a novel sight for a Thursday evening, and it was great to watch the level of engagement and interest from the audience.

Now, how can we sustain the momentum and maybe take some of the ideas further?

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72 Hour Urban Action takes over PECHATNIKI

First day of our workshop is about to take off to tour Pechatniki – an island neighbourhood in the south of Moscow. I’ll be playing with kids while the students look around and take us seriously. We challenged them with examining the relationship between video, urban interventions and community engagement. So stay tuned to what they come up with on these pages. Meanwhile – being new to Moscow will appriciate local tips on our facebook page – Kisses from strelka studio 2. peace out.

Day 2: Research in Otradnoe

Author: Jona Piehl

We saw some excellent deriving presentations today — especially impressed by the human chessboard strategy… And of course the graphic novel telling the tale of the industrial area!

The next phase of the workshop is to test the insights of the initial site research and some of the questions it threw up with a constructed situation — each team will go back into Otradnoe and stage a small intervention or action of some sort, to provoke responses, to engage people in conversations or to simply test a few assumptions.

Day 1: Storytelling in Otradnoe

Author: Jona Piehl

Yesterday was the first day of our workshop at Strelka Institute — part of the summer school ‘Agents of Change’. We wanted the workshop participants to approach ‘our district’ Otradnoe with as few preconceptions and assumptions as possible, with as little purpose and aim as possible, and to simply soak up the city and see what happen — so we didn’t really brief them about what was going to happen on Monday and the rest of the week.

We simply sent them out in small groups, each allocated a rough area of the district, and asked them to explore the environment through a derive, borrowing from the situationists…

We did our own bit of exploring today, in brilliant sunshine, and found beautiful green spaces, lots of apple trees, garages and wide roads with few crossings — and we envied the families that were barbecuing in the parks… Now, we are excited to see what the teams come back with tomorrow morning!

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