Tog Studio host ‘live-build’ events. This means that people who are usually excluded from the construction process take an active role in building their own project. In doing so participants are empowered to learn practical skills and teamwork to deliver a valuable community asset.
This is made possible by the architects and engineers behind Tog Studio designing buildings which are consciously low-tech to build. This allows participants to be fully involved in the process after a brief introduction to a few key skills (such as measuring timber, sawing, clamping and screwing).
About the project
“(working on the Sitooterie) gives me a purpose to get up in the morning and gives me the self-satisfaction to do a decent days work and see what comes from your hard work”.
Tog Studio recently collaborated with the Salvation Army (TSA) to build a ‘sitooterie’ (Scots slang for an outdoor seating area) with the service users of a TSA LifeHouse in Edinburgh; a project which was funded by an RSA Catalyst Grant. Tog Studio hosted a number of design workshops with the participants to agree how the Sitooterie would be used, where it would be sited and what it would look like. The team then spent three days building the project in April 2013.
The innovative structure was partially prefabricated at MAKLab, an open-source digital fabrication facility. MAKLab, which is also part of the RSA Scotland network, makes access to tools and equipment available to anyone who wants to make things; from jewellers to electrical engineers and school children. MAKLab helped Tog Studio deliver the Sitooterie by pre-fabricating the ply-box portal frame structure. MAKLab, who are based in Glasgow but plan to roll out their service across the country, were invaluable supporters of the project and warmly welcomed the TSA service users to tour their facilities and watch the frames be cut on the high-tech CNC router.
Delivering the Sitooterie increased the confidence and motivation of those involved. Kev Kelly, a TSA service user who had been involved in the project since its inception, commented that “(working on the Sitooterie) gives me a purpose to get up in the morning and gives me the self-satisfaction to do a decent days work and see what comes from your hard work”. Micheal Holliday, FRSA and architect at Tog Studio, commented that ” delivering the Sitooterie was an emotional project. It’s been a really intense build and we’ve made new friends along the way. We’ve learnt from each other and worked as a team; which is incredible given the short amount of time we had together.”
Tog Studio also recently hosted their inaugural summer school on the Isle of Tiree, off the west coast of Scotland. This event was attended by architecture students from across the country who wanted a hands-on alternative to their classroom-based education. The team delivered a 5m-high temporary timber ‘lighthouse’. The project was a huge success, winning national architecture awards, was published internationally and featured at the New York Architecture Film Festival. A further summer school is planned for June 2013 where the team plan to build a permanent community-owned boathouse on Tiree with a boat-building local charity.
“delivering the Sitooterie was an emotional project. It’s been a really intense build and we’ve made new friends along the way. We’ve learnt from each other and worked as a team; which is incredible given the short amount of time we had together.”
How you can get involved
Tog Studio are looking to bring their expertise to a greater number of projects across the country. Fellows who are looking to deliver innovative buildings through an inclusive construction process should get in touch; the team have experience of working at a range of scales and on a variety of building types. Tog Studio are currently working on proposals for affordable, self-build accommodation and work-space would be interested to collaborate with like-minded organisations looking to commission such projects.
Fellows who work in the construction industry supply-chain and can donate time, materials or equipment in exchange for sponsorship of projects like the Sitooterie should also get in touch.
Tog Studio would like to thank the RSA Catalyst Grant for their funding towards the Sitooterie, without which the project wouldn’t have happened.
There is more information about Tog Studio, including a short film about the making of the Sitooterie, at www.togstudio.co.uk
A couple of weeks ago we were lucky enough to hold an event at OxfordJam. A three day fringe festival, Oxford Jam runs parallel to the Skoll World Forum, ensuring that all the great and the good in the social enterprise sector descend into Oxford for three days of inspiration, making connections, and learning from all the varied work going on. We held one of our quarterly Social Enterprise Spotlight events there; find out more online about Social Enterprise Spotlight, our case-study of nine social entrepreneurs. Employing the skills and expertise of two brilliant RSA Fellows, the event titled Who do you help and how do you know? set out to look at impact measurement from a more human point of view.
It is important to stop and take a moment to remember why we do what we do.
At the session Steve Coles (Director at Intentionality CIC or as we called him, social impact ‘ninja’) gave us five top tips about what to measure when thinking about the impact you make with your social enterprise. You can find his top tips here. He also made the valuable point that in order to fully understand our impact it is important to stop and take a moment to remember why we do what we do. Which leads me to our other speaker at the event and one of the nine RSA Spotlighters, Becky John.
The Big Idea: who makes your pants?
Becky John runs Who made your pants? a Southampton-based campaigning lingerie brand which started in 2008 and is concerned with two things – amazing pants and amazing women. They create jobs for women who’ve had a hard time, primarily refugees, by producing beautiful underwear from reclaimed materials. We heard Becky speak passionately about the women she helps and the impact they are making, including how one woman has set up her own independent email address without any interference from her family, and another who has decided to stand against tradition and not go through with female genital mutilation for her young daughter.
Many of the things that occur on a daily basis at Who made your pants? are an example of ‘non direct, unintended’ impact, such as their daily lunches together – not something that was planned or originally measured but definitely contributes to the well-being of all the women involved. Becky’s story and desire to help the women she works with is one that may resonate with many social entrepreneurs about why they do what they do. As Becky says on her blog, the reason and idea for Who made your pants?, “came from a passion for equality, a love of pretty underwear and a huge personal change.” Becky’s impact is very clear and her hopes are to continue to positively affect the women she helps and take over the world, “we have come so far since 2008. We want to help more women over the next three years, including making our current team full time and taking on a second team, if not more.”
The reason and idea for Who made your pants? came from a passion for equality, a love of pretty underwear and a huge personal change.
How you can get involved
Who made your pants? has one full time member of staff, Becky, and around ten part time workers (which can change due to the unpredictably of people’s lives). They also have had lots of regular volunteers doing everything from website building to answering the phone and drafting legal contracts. Recently however, a couple of the lynchpins in the organisation have left so Becky is now looking for someone (or some people) to fulfil an office management type role. Becky has written about what she needs so if you are interested, or know someone who might be, you can read about it on her blog. You can find out more about the organisation on the Who made your pants? website and for the Tweeters among us, you can follow her on Twitter @whomadeyour and @beckypants.
More from the Social Entrepreneurs Network
The next Social Entrepreneurs Network event is one of our regular breakfasts held at the RSA House, the last Friday of each month – the next one is Friday 26th April at 9am and will be on social enterprises overseas. You can visit the Social Entrepreneurs Network and find out more online. Our next quarterly event is on 26th June where we’ll be sure to hear more inspiring stories so join the network and hopefully we’ll see you next time.
Sarah Tucker is Fellowship Communications & Events Manager.
You can follow her @SarahTucker10
William Makower FRSA has set up the National Funding Scheme which was supported with two grants totalling £7,000 from RSA Catalyst. Our grants helped William develop graphics and a demo for launch events. In this guest blog William sets out the thinking behind the idea and how Fellows can get involved:
There are 5 spaces left for tickets to the press event on Wednesday 27 March (8.30am -10am) at the Southbank Centre, London and 15 tickets for the evening reception (6-8pm). If you would like to attend either please email John Foster-Hill. These will be allocated on a first-come-first-served basis.
DONATE, from the National Funding Scheme (a registered charity) is designed to make it easy to give to cultural causes that inspire and move us when at a gallery, museum, heritage site, by using a mobile phone.
As Sir Paul Ruddock, supporter of The National Funding Scheme and Chairman of the Trustees of the Victoria & Albert Museum, said:
”The UK has some of the strongest and most diverse cultural organisations in the world but we need to ensure that we make it easy for visitors to give and show their appreciation. The National Funding Scheme, something I am hugely supportive of, enables us all to easily make a donation to specific causes by using our phones at those moments when we want to give. It has the potential to not only bring in incremental money, but also to do so from the younger generation.”
We need to ensure that we make it easy for visitors to give and show their appreciation… The National Funding Scheme enables us all to easily make a donation, whilst identifying specific causes, by using our phones at those moments when we want to give.
The National Funding Scheme has come to life after research showed that to encourage people to give to cultural causes two things need to happen:
a) the ‘ask’ needs to be made at the point of emotional impact (at the gallery, on the national trail etc.)
b) giving must be friction free, enabled by easy and straightforward ways of giving.
This is delivered through two elements of DONATE. First, the templated signs that provide both an explanation why the venue/cause is in need of support as well as an individual code that identifies donations as being for that specific cause. Second, a full range of payment options (including text, credit/debit cards and PayPal) which can be initiated by a user using QR codes, contactless technology or directly entering the web address.
The National Funding Scheme delivers two other crucial benefits. Incredibly powerful data sets will allow venues to understand the type of people that are giving to them, their giving patterns and how they might encourage additional support. To this end, we are also creating Culture Juice (part of the National Funding Scheme), to provide our partners with expert resource and knowledge in the fields of online giving, digital communication, fundraising, cultural insight etc. so that they can best use this newly available data.
The National Funding Scheme is therefore much more than a means to donate. It has been designed to democratise giving, provide data behaviour insights to the sector and support the sector in growing individual philanthropy.
DONATE goes live on 28th March with our launch partners and goes national at the end of this year.
As an RSA Fellow you can help in a number of ways:
- Attend the launch event (see top of this blog)
- Provide us with your feedback
- Encourage your local arts / heritage / cultural charity to sign up. There is no joining or annual fee to be part of DONATE
- Offer your help to Culture Juice by getting in touch
- DONATE at a participating organization
- Join our Twitter feed (@NFSUK) or participate on our Facebook page
Learn more at www.nationalfundingscheme.org (new site from 27 March).
Rob Greenland is one of our Fellows in the Yorkshire area working with his local community. He is one of the successful applicants to RSA Catalyst, the RSA’s seed fund for Fellows’ early stage ideas seeking to find solutions to today’s challenges. He is running Leeds Empties, a project which Rob has blogged about here:
The Big idea: Leeds Empties aims to bring people together to develop a range of enterprising approaches to bringing hundreds more of Leeds’ 5000 long-term empty homes back into use.
About the project
We launched Leeds Empties in 2012 with a ‘Call To Action’ – and more than 100 people joined us for the day to explore enterprising ways to bring more empties back into use.
The Call To Action also featured a “Pledge-A-Thon” – hosted by TV architect and empty homes campaigner George Clarke – with more than 20 local business pledging thousands of pounds worth of support to bring back into use an empty home recently purchased by a local social enterprise. The Call To Action also attracted lots of media coverage – we were lead story on local BBC news all day.
Since then we’ve developed the ideas that were explored at the Call To Action, and with support from Leeds City Council, an RSA Catalyst Award and Yorkshire Venture Philanthropy Fund we’re now ready to fully launch during Leeds Empties Week later this month (18th and 22nd March.)
The aim of the Week is to engage a wide range of people in bringing empty homes back into use – and we’re keen to involve RSA Fellows, particularly around the following themes:
- Attracting investment – eg through community share issues
- Green homes – ensuring empty homes are renovated to high environmental standards
- Jobs, training and apprenticeships – in particular for young people
- Support for social ventures – supporting existing social enterprises and encouraging new self-help schemes
The Catalyst grant is helping us to engage more local Fellows, primarily by supporting our Leeds Empties Week launch event. This is vital as the success of the Leeds Empties approach depends on us making the most of the wide range of skills that local people can bring to help us to tackle this complex social issue. Our role is to encourage people to get involved – and then to help them to work out how best to use their expertise to contribute towards tackling the empty homes problem. The grant is also contributing towards a Leeds Empties website which will help us involve more people in turning empty properties into decent family homes.
The success of the Leeds Empties approach depends on us making the most of the wide range of skills that local people can bring to help us to tackle this complex social issue.
How you can get involved
Fellows can find out more by coming to our Leeds Empties Week launch on Monday 18th March – which is supported by the RSA, where Chair of the RSA’s Yorkshire Region Pam Warhurst will talk about Leeds Empties in the context of the RSA’s aspirations for Yorkshire as an Incredible Region, investing in enterprise and self-belief.
Finally you can contact me, Rob Greenland FRSA by email or by calling 07905 800 710.
This is a great project taking place in Leeds and hope you’ll be able to make it. If you are a Fellow based in Yorkshire and the North East, and have an idea you would like to connect with other Fellows about or which you think might be eligible for Catalyst funding, I’d love to hear from you. You can contact me at: email@example.com
Regional Programme Manager, North East & Yorkshire
The Big Idea: giving young people in Suffolk their say about education in the county
At the moment, educational attainment in Suffolk is well below the national average, and the local authority is determined to do something about it. Since last year, the RSA has been working with Suffolk County Council on Raising the Bar, an ambitious inquiry that aims to understand what needs to change – and then put that knowledge into practice.
Trying to balance careful research and practical experimentation is a common theme of the RSA’s work. Often these aims make strange bedfellows, partly because the skills and attitudes you need to understand a problem aren’t necessarily the same as those that help solve it. The RSA has one huge advantage over other organisations trying to achieve this blend, though, and that’s our Fellowship: 27,000 skilled, practically-minded people who want to support our charitable mission.
From the beginning, Fellows in Suffolk have been enthusiastic supporters of our work on Raising the Bar. They even went as far as organising a working dinner last November to help source ideas for how to start improving education on the ground. But one of the best things about RSA Fellows is that they don’t just help: they also challenge. And although they welcomed the Inquiry, local Fellows – led by Dr Emma Bond, a lecturer in childhood and youth studies at University Campus Suffolk, and Fellowship Councillor Suzanna Pickering – felt that it had not done enough to consider young people’s views about their education.
About the project
In response, they created Shout Out Suffolk: a project that asks young people under twenty for their views on learning, and what would make it better. They applied successfully for RSA Catalyst funding to help finance the project, and are working closely with the RSA education team and Suffolk County Council to make sure their work is fully integrated with the Inquiry.
“If we are really going to grasp why Suffolk is failing to meet the educational needs of young people,” Emma says, “we need to understand what their educational experiences are like and we need to listen to their views, as they are the very people who are going to be affected.”
Emma and her team are encouraging young people to answer three simple questions: what learning is like in Suffolk; what young people hope for in their lives; and what will make those things happen. If you look at the submissions so far on Pinterest (all edited to ensure confidentiality), you’ll see the creativity and effort they’ve already brought to bear on the project, from short essays to drawings and paintings.
“If we are really going to grasp why Suffolk is failing to meet the educational needs of young people, we need to understand what their educational experiences are like and we need to listen to their views as they are the very people who are going to be affected.”
Dr Emma Bond
As it happens, I grew up near the Suffolk coast. I was a pretty keen learner, but I also remember feeling frustrated by how small the world seemed from tiny schools in an isolated, culturally homogenous place. It’s fascinating to see the breadth of aspirations young people there have today – from designing computer games to becoming a mangaka (a manga artist) – but through our work I’ve also heard how poverty and lack of opportunity are holding many back.
There’s value in simply asking young people about their hopes and experiences, and the thing I find most encouraging about the project the life it will have beyond the Raising the Bar Inquiry. The Fellows involved want their efforts to spark further work to engage young people in shaping their education, and the next phase of the project, Make It Loud, hopes to work with similar initiatives across the country.
How you can get involved
If you’re based in Suffolk, you can help spread the word: there’s lots of information on the website, including an engagement pack for schools and organisations who work with young people. For more information on the project, follow @shoutoutsuffolk in Twitter for updates, or email firstname.lastname@example.org to contact the project leaders.
If you live elsewhere and are interested in this approach, you might also like to explore to the RSA’s wider activity in educational policy and practice, of which our work in Suffolk is just one part. And if you’re an RSA Fellow and have an idea of your own you’d like to develop, Catalyst is there to support you – whether that’s through funding or support from others.
Shout Out Suffolk is a great example of how the RSA’s influence and the expertise of our Fellows can combine to tackle a big, difficult challenge. And that it’s happening on my home turf? Well, all the better.
Sam Thomas is the RSA’s project engagement manager. Follow @iamsamthomas on Twitter
The Big Idea: to develop creative free spaces for young people to be inspired and educated by science, technology, engineering and maths.
3-2-1-Ignition* is a new type of shop. Not one where you go to buy things from but one that you go to acquire knowledge, inspiration and enjoyment. Led by Rick Hall FRSA and Ignite! a science pop up shop was created to enhance curiosity amongst the people of Nottingham. Although Nottingham has been designated a ‘Science City’, research showed Rick that young people and their parents did not see science, technology, engineering and maths as careers paths for the future. (STEM for short; just like the RSA it’s a bit of a mouthful).
I first met Rick Hall briefly at the East Midlands Annual Conference before I was an RSA staff member, talk about keen! We did not meet again until I popped into the shop prior to its grand opening. Rick was conducting an evaluation with the design and build volunteers. He was full of energy and enthusiasm and could not wait to open the shop. It wasn’t long before I was helping try to solve the mystery of the multiple light switches. Rick is a writer and consultant in the arts, education, creativity and youth sectors. He has a passion for developing partnerships that promote creativity and learning for young people. Through Rick’s hard work at Ignite! 25 organisations gave their support to 3-2-1-Ignition* Rick also persuaded a panel of Fellows that 3-2-1-Ignition* was also worth support from the Catalyst scheme which helped to make the project a reality. Critical to its success was the work of a wide range of volunteers. Students from Nottingham Trent University helped design and curate the shop in just 8 days turning it from an empty shell into a wonderful den of curiosity. You can watch the transformation of the shop via a selection of videos by Hasmita Chavada. Volunteers also spent time on the streets of Nottingham doing stints of science busking where they played drying racks and made marmite turn white! Young people who run Lab_13’s in their schools also came to use the space and inspire others. By partnering with Nottingham Hackspace the shop attracted 250 young people who soldered, drilled, made and even got to play Pong powered by a bicycle. There were also opportunities to connect to the British Geological Survey and the Royal Society of Chemistry – the list goes on.
Over 3300 people visited the 3-2-1-Ignition* and didn’t pay a penny to do so. 100% of young people surveyed asked for the shop to remain open longer. Not willing to disappoint the public they listened to their audience and stayed open for a further 2 weeks meaning the shop was open for 27 days. Its aim was to inspire, teach and entertain people from all walks of life about STEM and to show young people that you can go into STEM careers and be creative.
Following from 3-2-1-Ignition* in the Broadmarsh shopping centre in Nottingham the team had to decide what to do next. They have produced an evaluation of the project that will tell you all about the activities, projects and partners but more importantly they are moving ahead spurred on by comments from participants who said ‘It’s the funnest place on earth’ ‘I was enthused and enthralled to see how much my grandchildren, boys aged 8 + 11, responded to interactive displays, They loved it all.’ They will be taking the concept south of the Watford Gap to the Barbican’s Festival of Neurosciences Weekender and the Wonders Street Fair on the 2 – 3 March & 7 – 9 April. Go take a look and ‘tempt your curiosity and your mind to do some making. There’ll be jars to peer at and sniff, thoughts to create and space to ask the brain-related questions you’ve always wanted to know’. It’s all about doing, touching and getting involved.
How Can You Help?
Rick and Ignite! have also been busy exploring how Ignite! can develop the 3-2-1-Ignition* model further. As Rick says they have a ‘proof of concept for programmes like Lab_13 and the 3-2-1-Ignition* pop up shop, but lack the resources and know how to convert these successes to wider adoption.’ Is this something you can help with? The one-off travelling sparks of 3-2-1-Ignition* will be tested at the Barbican events but they won’t be able to attract such an audience and will not reach as wide a demographic as they did in the Broadmarsh. They are considering setting up a 3-2-1-Ignition* Hub in Nottingham and could use similar models used by Pirate Supply Store of 826 Valencia a US creative writing project and Hoxton Street Monster Supplies that supports the Ministry of Stories. One of Rick’s grand plans is to support Leeds to be free of NEET (Not in education, employment or training) young people by 2020, an idea that can only be done in collaboration.
One thing is for sure Rick will be busy making plans and talking to people so if you are interested in this agenda and think you could help please be in touch. You can contact Rick at: email@example.com or follow him on twitter where he is @Rick_Hall