Updated: May 11, 2021
This week's lecture was an interview with both George Lee and Jonathan Collie, the co-founders of The Age of No Retirement ( a social enterprise) and The Common Room (an intergenerational community project).
Both George and Jonathan have formed a team that includes a team of researchers, designers, and innovators to tackle issues related to the ageing population, ageism in society, and the potential of intergenerational communities. Their work uses design research methods and processes of engagement to collectively innovate solutions and engage the public.
How did you end up working in this area of service design and social innovation?
"I realised that radical change could be achieved more effectively using the power of design and creative thinking."
In 2002 George started a design company called This is Real Art.
In 2012 George also created Commonland, a creative design studio that used design thinking to tackle complex social issues.
Jonathan graduated as a medical doctor and found freedom of not having to know all the answers through design.
"Knowing too much is the enemy of discovery."
What are the aims of The Age of No Retirement and The Common Room?
Create an ageless world.
Create a world where age doesn't define us.
Figure out how we can address the growing divisions between ages.
Create physical spaces across the UK (and internationally) that magnetically attract people of all ages.
Older+younger=greater happiness, success, longevity, and well being
Can you talk a little bit more about the double-diamond service design process and how it has informed the work you have been doing?
Design has many different definitions, its heart is about the process of translating ideas into reality.
The design process passes stages where thinking and possibilities are deliberately as broad as possible to situations where they are narrowed down and channelled into focused distinct objectives.
The double-diamond design process offers a really rigorous and interesting process of testing and prototyping ideas. However, research and development of ideas can sometimes be a much more nuanced and intuitive process, what other research methods and approaches have you used within your work?
Committed to human-centred design.
Getting out into the community.
1 to 1 interviews.
Ask people what they're feeling, not what they want.
Ideas around co-design and collaborative design processes are critical to developing relevant and appropriate design solutions.
THE RICHER RANGE OF METHODS, THE BETTER.
"In EVERY single case engaging with real people has provided the most wonderful insightful seeds for development."
George, coming from a design and communications background, how important is design in addressing social challenges? What roles has it played in the work that you do?
"Good designers come from working with, observing, and studying real people."
What role has intercultural learning played within the projects you have worked on? How have these insights allowed you to build or develop a project?
Too frequently, the early adopters or people who identify with your issue, cause or objective are not necessarily representative of the cultural diversity within a geography or community.
Cultural diversity is key throughout.
The Trust of important gatekeepers and community representatives is critical.
"It's often people who are marginalised who have the insights which can make life better for all people."
What advice do you have for those engaging with community-based service design projects for the first time?
Embrace freedom and openness.
Build trust and collaborative relationships with your funders.
Talk to people and listen to people.
"Nowadays, Hakka language and culture are valued by governments at all levels, a testament to the hard work of notable Hakka figures. However, to really improve the Hakka’s status, there should be more Hakka occupying important roles in politics and economics.
Aside from playing a strategic role in the presidential election with their vote, Hakka must pro-actively seek opportunities to take part in the political system to give voice to the community."
Taipei Times, 2021
The above quote stood out to me from the Taipei Times in regards to the job roles Hakka people should be considering to protect the future of the language. This made me question what the benefits would be of a website that was designed for Hakka people to search for jobs in important roles, enabling them to reach a wider community.
I began opening my research to other languages to Hakka as I wanted to get feedback for my website idea, however, due to my limited understanding of Chinese and Hakka languages I knew there would language barriers that I couldn't afford within a short time frame. I began by connecting with friends, one of which put me in touch with a guy called Sebastian Reimer Bendtsen from the Greenland Tourist Board, who said:
"Employing a native Greenlandic over danish speakers in the service industry provides a more holistic service to our clientele. It is important particularly in the tourism industry, which is quickly replacing traditional industries as Greenlands major source of economic income that identity is not eroded, and offering native Greenlandic the opportunity to transfer their unique skills to new industries is paramount to preserving the native culture."
Sebastian Reimer Bendtsen, The Greenland Tourist Board
Change From Taiwanese Hakka to Cornish
Although my original service design idea was to look into solving the disappearing Taiwanese Hakka language, with my lack of ability to speak Chinese and time frame for the project I asked if I could use my idea with the Cornish language instead. After speaking with both Ben and James about this concern, they both agreed that it was a fair request, so I began looking into the Cornish language.
I began by asking employers what they thought of the idea of hiring Cornish native speakers. Tom Richardson, who manages numerous children's nurseries through Naturally Learning responded,
"It's very difficult to hire Cornish speaking people. Language is a part of our identity, by hiring Cornish speakers we would be keeping hold of our past as well as looking after our future."
Tom Richardson, Naturally Learning
I then went on to email a couple of Cornish language-speaking societies (Cornish-language.org and Go Cornish) to get their opinion and what they'd potentially change or do differently and if they would support this idea.
As I waited on responses from my emails as they were putting me in touch with different people I wanted to start looking at job website designs.
What I've noticed from a lot of job websites is their tendency to be clear, easy to navigate and not overly wordy or image-led. Of course, job websites have a purpose, to connect employers with potential employees and vice-versa. However, most of them included a short piece of information or mission statement describing what made them different to other websites, perhaps they only listed jobs in a certain sector etc. Clearly, I'll have to consider this as my website does have a very unique side to it. Making sure that I inform traffic of the details of my website clearly is very important to avoid confusion.
We’re committed to keeping local language and dialects alive by selecting jobs that not only suit your aspirations and fulfil your career objectives but also allow you to reinvigorate, regenerate, and reestablish your native language.
We specifically work with employers within communication led roles, from hospitality, public relations, and teaching, in your local area who feel your ability to speak Cornish would be a beneficial asset.
To signify that my website is for Cornish speakers I began looking at the colours of Cornwall, through the Cornish flag and other symbols that make up its identity.
I also feel it important to predominantly use the Cornish language throughout the site with English translations underneath. This is the language we're aiming to preserve and celebrate so not using it would be a huge error. I also feel it would have a secondary purpose of clarifying that this is a website primarily for Cornish language speakers. I feel that this would limit confusion between people searching for jobs and ending up on the site.
I have submitted my translation (through the form as below) and am awaiting a reply.
As I was pursuing this project I received an email from Mark Trevethan, who is the Cornish Language Lead at Cornwall County Council. One issue Mark pointed out to me was the advertisement of voluntary Cornish speaking roles, he said:
"The work does rely on volunteers but we are not very good at advertising voluntary roles. We tend to do it by word of mouth and it would be good to advertise positions, eg:
Research of place names
Helping out at the Kowsva shop
Proofreading Cornish text
Writing press releases"
Mark Trevethan, Cornwall County Council
flex.falmouth.ac.uk. (n.d.). Log in to canvas. [online] Available at: https://flex.falmouth.ac.uk/courses/691/modules#module_6765 [Accessed 25 Apr. 2021].
www.taipeitimes.com. (2021). Next step for the Hakka movement - Taipei Times. [online] Available at: https://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2021/01/09/2003750216 [Accessed 25 Apr. 2021].