From 2017, we can do anything – so what’s emerging for ulabscot?

u-lab-from-2017-we-can-do-anything

As we are now well and truly into 2017, we thought it was a good time to share what is emerging in u.lab, both globally and in Scotland, this year.

u.lab Scotland stories of impact

Over the past few months, Kirsty Deacon, a PhD student with the University of Glasgow and u.labber herself, undertook an internship to gather stories of the impact u.lab is having for participants.  She has developed a number of videos and blog posts showcasing examples of impact at different points along the U.  Look out for the first of these posts in the next week and an overall report by the spring.  We are so grateful to those who took the time to share their stories and would welcome others who also wish to do so.  Just get in touch.

u.lab Scotland national gatherings

A clear message from the stories we have heard is that people appreciate the time to come together in person to share experiences, learn and support each other in applying this approach.  In response to this feedback, we are suggesting hosting at least two national gatherings over the coming months: one at the end of April, one just before u.lab starts in Sept and possibly one in June.  For the April gathering, some have suggested we explore a topic or theme together e.g. changing how we work together, what is emerging in our communities etc.  We’re still in the early days of designing it, but if you have an idea or would like to get involved, please get in touch (Keira.Oliver@ gov.scot)

Invitation to host taster sessions and “bumping spaces”

Last year, over 20 people hosted their own taster sessions in their local areas to spark curiosity in u.lab across the country.  In Glasgow, there was also a number of “bumping spaces”.  Relaxed and informal events where people could come along and meet others who were signing up to u.lab and form hubs or coaching circles.

Whether it’s a taster session or bumping space, you might like to consider hosting one or both of these in your own area. In the next few weeks, we’ll share some info on how others have done it and a way of advertising them so watch this space!

Emergence of a West of Scotland U.Lab Network

Developing from the “bumping spaces” and a number of hubs and coaching circles hosted in and around Glasgow, there is now an intention to develop a West of Scotland U.Lab network.

Mary Ann Smith, one of the hub’s hosts, outlines the intention: “to CONNECT & BUILD hubs and widen the theory U community through ‘Open Hub Nights’. These nights will ‘stay true to the U’ by framing their agenda around the U as they initially allow participants to explore what the nights should look like. We hope it will be a place to connect and learn, explore, create, build U knowledge, skill and competence with new and existing hubs developing as connections are made.  The first Open Hub night will take place on Monday 27th Feb 5.30pm (for a 6pm start) until 8.30pm at the Scottish Recovery Consortium, 2/1 Bell street Glasgow G1 1LG.  We plan to explore what the nights should look like through listening, dialogue walks and 4D Mapping.”

If you’re in the area, why not go along and be part of this emerging network?  Perhaps you’d like to start something similar in your area?  Get in touch if we can help.

Prototyping a next-stage u.lab course (u.lab 2x)

The global U.Lab team will be hosting three live session on April 20th, May 11th, June 15th at 3 – 4.30pm UK time (10am-11:30am EDT).

Each session will focus on a key “acupuncture point” in the global economy where there is great possibility for economic and social transformation.  The team will share and seek new material, and will take what they learn from these sessions to develop a full u.lab 2x course in 2018.

New online u.lab community space

In April, the team we will also introduce new collaborative technologies, including a redesigned online space, that will make it easier for you to connect to other u.lab participants in your own communities and around the world.  We will keep you updated on this but hopefully it will make it easier for participants to find each other, and to form hubs and/or coaching circles, ahead of the next U.Lab starting in Sept.

So lots happening!  Get in touch if you have something you’d like to share with u.lab Scotland.

Kinder Scotland 2017: Glasgow’s prototype

[posted on behalf of Elise Marshall]

Where did it come from and what’s it all about?

Kinder Scotland came out of a kind of beautiful synchronicity.

Our u lab coaching circle which met at the Glasgow Buddhist Centre was so inspired by Nipun Mehta’s inputs to the course, that when we heard about a 30 day kindnesss challenge he mentioned, we were keen to try it.  Meanwhile one of our coaching circle members Kuladharini, in her role of CEO at Scottish Recovery Consortium had become aware through their research about something surprising that was needed to prevent drug deaths – compassion. And her proposal was that the Kindness challenge could be a venture by the Scottish U.Lab community to invite the whole of Scotland! Thus, Kinder Scotland 2017 was born.

We soon realised that we really needed to see for ourselves how it would work and this became our prototype – trying out the kindness challenge by using the Kindspring.org website which was set up by Nipun Mehta’s collective ‘Service Space’  for exactly such challenges. We undertook to carry out a different act of kindness every day for 21 days from 21st November 2016 and telling others about it.

Here are a couple of the dozens of things that members of our coaching circle did as part of the prototype.

One of us anonymously wrote 4 inspiring messages in chalk on the approach to the local school , later to be told by a passerby to ‘walk that way, the messages get even better!’

Another of us spent time unhurriedly helping an elderly couple where the man had drunkenly fallen over; the woman was so grateful she took both her hands, said lovely things and gave her a big hug and kiss.

We discovered how kind we already were, how we could usually find those extra few minutes to help someone out, that we could go a bit further than we normally would, that even when we felt there was nothing we could do, such as witnessing a friend get a parking ticket, there was something we could do – offer a hug! We enjoyed it, delighted even in coming across opportunities to be kind and making new connections. For me, I felt I became much more part of the world and I took a great joy in the adventure of it – what can I do today? On one occasion I spontaneously rerouted my run in order to pick up litter in my local park. It became a sort of cross country affair with lots of backtracking  to and from bins– but I was beaming!

It was a very simple concept but we were blown away by it and we were keen to progress to roll it out as widely as possible. I had the feeling that people inherently want to be kind and simply need some more permission and help to do so in the context of our often individualistic culture.

So, we launched in January with the help of various partners including U.lab, Scottish Recovery Consortium, Carnegie Trust and Visit Scotland and over 360 people signed up.  I found it more difficult this time around, harder to do something different every day as I had used up a lot of ideas first time! Then I decided that it was far kinder to myself to let go of that. I certainly learned more about kindness to myself this time around – after a conversation where I was challenged to become really good at receiving I incorporated this into the challenge for me – to practice being really good at receiving kindness in even the smallest ways such as accepting someone to lift my bag when I was able to do so myself.

I also had the chance to take it wider when Anna, from my coaching circle, became involved in a movement called Bridges not Walls and organised for us to join her in hanging a banner on a pedestrian bridge in Glasgow on a very memorable day in January 2016. It read ‘Build bridges not walls: Kindness has no borders’. I loved being part of this and connecting with other people from different groups and communities hanging positive messages for Glasgow and the world to see. I felt so hopeful.

I loved reading the posts on Kindspring and this continues to move and inspire me to go further, look outwards, connect.  I know that some people found the challenge hard to engage with, finding the daily emails too much, struggling with the technology or time or the content feeling a bit alien – more American than Scottish. Someone I know decided not to sign up for the challenge, feeling overwhelmed by the thought of ‘having’ to do something every day and instead made a personal intention to look for ways to be kind . She told me about noticing someone in the street who was walking with a walking stick in one hand and the other arm in a sling. She could see his laces were undone and approached him to ask if he wished her to tie his laces. He did and she really enjoyed their interaction. There are so many kind acts as a result of this challenge that have not been recorded and will only be known by the few directly affected.

I have been so proud to be part of Kinder Scotland and I intend to keep the principle alive in my life by using a daily journal. I’m looking forward to the review session on 20th Feb and I’m hopeful for an even wider Kinder Scotland 2018! I do wonder how far these ripples spread and while we can never really know – I believe they have the potential to change the world.

 

Did you take part in Kinder Scotland 2017?  Would you like to join some others in Glasgow to discuss your experiences and help us learn together?

Kinder Scotland 21-day Challenge – starts tomorrow!

Happy new year!  I wonder what 2017 will hold?  After last year, there does seem to be a sense that anything really is possible.  Many of us will be returning to work today after the festive period.  So as a way to positively kick off the year, why not join over 250 of us by doing the Kinder Scotland 21 day challenge?

The initial idea was sparked by a U.Lab coaching circle in Glasgow and has resulted in a partnership between u.lab Scotland and the Carnegie Trust’s Kinder Communities project.  Both are interested in the impact of not so random acts of kindness on communities, a theme that fits well with u.lab.  The challenge has also hit the national news with Visit Scotland (Scotland’s national tourism organisation) encouraging people to get involved as a great way to start the new year!

The challenge is open to anyone in Scotland and beyond so please share widely!  Will you or your organisation join the Kinder Scotland Challenge 2017 and warm the dark cold January with Kindness?  Follow this link to sign up: http://www.kindspring.org/challenge/join/1272/

It will be hosted on kindspring.org, an international volunteer led kindness and generosity web platform and community. It’s entirely free to join and use the resources, ideas and daily inspirations for those taking part in the challenge.  There will also be an opportunity to come together to discuss your experiences of the challenge on Thur 26 Jan 2017.  Watch out for more details soon!

In this video (filmed at the end of the live session event in Glasgow – so it’s a bit noisy!), Zoe Ferguson of the Carnegie Trust, outlines the Kinder Scotland Challenge 2017:

We hope you join us and if you feel moved to, please share your experiences of the challenge on the ulabscot Facebook page or twitter (#ulabscot #ulab).

P.S. If you don’t get an immediate email back from kindspring.org- check your junk mail…it could be there.

Kinder Scotland Challenge – Can we warm up Scotland this January?

As you may know, there were issues with sound quality during Scotland’s part of the final u.lab live session yesterday 😦  In spite of all the tests, it just didn’t work.  But you live and learn.  What really struck me was the messages of support we received from many people and how well the whole team involved rallied around to focus on what we can learn from the experience to improve for next time.  Luckily, we filmed it on our side and MIT are working to integrate the audio from that so it will hopefully be a little better on the live session recording.   I’ll keep you posted 🙂

During the final u.lab live session, Kuladharini and Elise Marshall invited the whole u.lab community to join them in an experiment to bring about a Kinder Scotland.  Here is what it is all about:

Can we create a Kinder Scotland with individual acts of deliberate kindness? Can we create a kinder self by undertaking a 21-day challenge to commit a different act of kindness each day and telling someone about it?

We can see from research that people’s willingness to help a stranger or a friend is flexible. We know from studies that the more you notice that you are on the receiving end of kindness- the more likely you are to pass it on.  Would you, your family, friends and colleagues like to find out for yourselves what benefits greater visible kindness might bring?

Join us for the Kinder Scotland 21 day challenge starting on January 5th 2017. You commit to undertaking a different act of kindness every day for 21 days and notice what effect it has had on you, your community, family, colleagues and friends.

The Kinder Scotland 21 day challenge is a partnership between the u.lab Scotland community and the Carnegie Trust’s Kinder Communities project; both are interested in the impact of not so random acts of kindness on communities. It will be hosted on kindspring.org, an international volunteer led kindness and generosity web platform and community. It’s entirely free to join and use the resources, ideas and daily inspirations for those taking part in the challenge.  There will also be an opportunity to come together to discuss your experiences of the challenge on Thur 26 Jan 2017.  Watch out for more details soon!

In this video (filmed at the end of the live session event in Glasgow – so it’s a bit noisy!), Zoe Ferguson of the Carnegie Trust, outlines the Kinder Scotland Challenge 2017:

The challenge is open to anyone in Scotland or beyond so please share widely.  Visit Scotland is already on board!  Will you or your organisation join the Kinder Scotland Challenge 2017 and warm the dark cold January with Kindness?  Follow this link to sign up: http://www.kindspring.org/challenge/join/1272/

P.S. If you don’t get an immediate email back from kindspring.org- check your junk mail…it could be there.

Scotland to feature in final live session

experiment

Drawing by Dot McLaughlin

Exciting news!  Scotland has been asked to feature some of our story so far as part of the final live session on 15 Dec.

 

We are looking for stories from people who may have taken part in u.lab more than once and people who are completely new to it in 2016.  Could this be you?  How has u.lab helped you make (or start to make) the changes you want to see to help Scotland be an even better country to live and work in?  This might range from helping you focus on what your work really is, how it helped improve relationships with others, to working with others to get a project or idea off the ground.  Just drop me a line at Keira.Oliver@gov.scot

A few ulabscot participants are organising an event around the live session which will be a great chance for us to get together again – something lots of you have asked for.  Book your spot here!  And please feel free to bring any photos, flipcharts, outputs that help tell your story.

The live session itself starts at 3pm (UK time) so please tune in at home or work if you can’t join us in the room 🙂

u.lab the MOOC finishes.. u.lab the movement continues

Today will be the first Thursday in two months that there isn’t a fresh batch of materials released for u.lab.  All the material will remain available on edX, as will the features on the u.lab community site (although not sure how long registration remains open on edX for so do it quick!).  This means you can dip in and out of the materials whenever you want and a few groups have taken advantage of the materials being open and decided to postpone starting them until the new year when the timing is better for them.

For some, the end of the 8 weeks may come as a kind of relief (it is a pretty intensive 8 weeks) and for others, you may be wondering what next?

There are a few things brewing in the pipeline open to the whole ulabscot community (if you took part in 2015 or 2016 or both): Continue reading

Needed in next 24 hours: Your stories for Thursday’s live session!

​The u.lab team are looking for stories for Thursday’s live session! Here’s part of the email they sent out:

We just filmed our latest office hours video, and around 4:25 in the video, we ask you to send us stories that we can feature in Thursday’s Live Session. What have you experienced in your coaching circles? How have you used Social Presencing Theater? What did you learn on your sensing journeys or stakeholder interviews?

Let us know with a short video (30-60 seconds, YouTube or Vimeo), a photo or short paragraph. Send it to u.lab@presencing.com and we may use it in Thursday’s Live Session.

You inspire you, the u.lab newsletter has some great stories from around the world.