Social Innovation Camp – 5-7 December 2008

Social Innovation Camp 2 (The Revenge!) was an amazing experience – tiring, draining, seemingly unending, but fun, fulfilling and infinitely rewarding.

Around 60 people descended onto 7 different ideas trying to make positive social change to bring them from the glint of an idea into a project that could be taken on past the weekend. The key idea was to bring together those with the ideas for social change together with the people with the technical knowledge to bring those ideas to life using the web.

I was part of the Carbon Co-Op team, led by Jonathan Atkinson, a 32 year old environmentalist from Manchester. I think that our group had an excellent balance of ideas people, front end developers, back end developers, project managers, facilitators, designers, creatives, copy writers, and business strategists. That’s quite a lot of roles between just 7 people, which shows how we all wore various hats over the weekend. The finished project was great, the presentation went well, and – despite technical difficulties meaning we weren’t able to show what the guys built over the weekend – we were all really proud of what we had achieved.

The final presentations were played to a packed house on Sunday afternoon at the Museum of Childhood in Bethnal Green. The room wasn’t filled just by those who gave up their time for the weekend but also a wide range of supporters, well-wishers and those curious to find out what the end results were.

The judges were assessing the projects on three criteria:

1.People power
2.Technology not just for geeks
3.Proof of potential

I won’t go through how each presentation went, as most presentations had technical difficulties during the presentation which meant that some of the projects couldn’t be shown in full. Instead, here’s a list of the projects, a paragraph describing the idea behind each one, and where you can go to find out more:

Access City –
Getting round London can be difficult for anyone, whatever your obstacle – mobility, buggies or heavy bags. Search AccessCity for the easiest routes and help build the real view by adding your own experiences.

Carbon Co-Op –
The Carbon Co-Op is a social network that connects people who want to buy low carbon technologies together. The project aims to help cut carbon emissions and energy use from people’s homes by bringing people from local communities together to bulk buy the renewable energy resources that they need.

Post Post –
This site makes it easier to stop junk mail. Users enter their name, address and a password, and when they enter they state which company has been spamming them. The site does the rest, sending a polite letter to the firm asking them to remove your details.

Useful Visitors –
How many of us went abroad this year and had some spare time? This site aims to connect travellers with a spare hour or two while travelling to volunteer for local projects that need their skills. The site isn’t live yet, but it should be soon as it was one of the most developed projects over the weekend.

Own Grown –
An online community for people who want to eat and grow ultra local, real food. It’s an alternative to the ethical black hole of supermarkets and the worthy but overpriced farmers’ markets. –
This is an assessment system for people who need social support and care, where results from user generated data could be plotted on a national map that will give a localised picture of regional need across the country.

And the winners…

Good Gym –
The idea is for runners to visit hosuse bound disabled people during their runs. Athletes run useful errands instead of pounding a useless treadmill in the gym, and the disabled people act as ‘coaches’, getting the benefit of human interaction and a newspaper, or fruit or their National Lottery numbers done.

The Guardian have written two articles about the weekend here and here, which make for interesting reading even if you weren’t able to make it along.

All in all, it was a fantastic weekend with some truly amazing projects taking shape over the weekend. Congratulations to everyone involved, the eventual winners, Good Gym, and a big thanks to those good folks who organised the whole event. I’m looking forward to following the progress of the projects after the weekend and look forward to going to Social Innovation Camp 3!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *