Monday, 25 April 2016

Open invitation to help build food prototypes!

Join us at Open Project Nights and a Potluck Supper, and be part of the change that's afoot in how we grow, make, distribute and eat food in Lambeth.

It's been a whirlwind 6 weeks since we launched the U.Lab programme. The 25 participants came together every Wednesday to map out the local food system, learn new tools for leading and building relationships, visit nearby food projects and start building prototypes.

Prototypes so far include

How can you get involved? 
The group can't make these prototypes happen on their own. They need a whole range of skills, energy, experience and new perspectives to get them off the ground.

Here are some dates for your diaries so you can join in:

Wednesday 27th April from 6.30pm: Open Project Night.
Join the U.Lab team and contribute your ideas and skills to their prototypes – or start a new one. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday 4th May from 6.30pm: Open Project Night.
Join the U.Lab team and contribute your ideas and skills to their prototypes – or start a new one. REGISTER HERE.

Wednesday 11th May at 6.30pm: #ULabFood Potluck Supper!
Bring a dish or a bottle and connect with other local folks passionate about changing the food system. The U.Lab groups will pitch their prototypes so far and ask for your feedback. REGISTER HERE.

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Thursday, 21 April 2016

Keeping up with U.Lab - some really useful source materials

All done. What a ride. Well done everyone. We can't wait to see what happens with the prototypes.

If you want to keep up with U.Lab and work some of the tools into how you do things, here are some useful resources.

Daily principles (PDF) and a nice accompanying video

The early chapters of the U.Lab book - the meat of the course.

Finally - how do you deal with doubts and fears about whether the U.Lab process will keep working for you? We have a useful video here that we recommend.

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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Iterate, iterate, iterate

Phew. Six weeks have flown by. Down the U. Up the U. And now at prototype stage, looking forward to the hub's new Open Nights events where we can take these great ideas onto the next stage.

What is prototyping? A messy process in which the key is to keep iterating. Get something working quickly. Test those listening skills. Find out how well we collaborate with our peers.

We had a first go on one of the infamous Saturday sessions. Fueled by hangovers and sweet treats, some brilliant new ideas came out. And when the full group got together last Wednesday, we got, in no particular order:

  • A new way of thinking through policy and gunning for a Sustainable Food Cities Silver Award
  • 'Supermarket Unsummit' – reconstructing supermarket to see if we can make a better one
  • Doggie bags – a campaign to encourage restaurants to give doggy bags
  • A community buying group - helping communities work together for better, cheaper food
  • Vertical gardening and an innovation lab - a space where innovators can get together and learn from one another
  • A community café - like a café, but better and built from the ground up for and by the people who use it.
Watch this space.

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Friday, 8 April 2016

The food we've been eating on the course - a chat with Gabby Delellis of Homegrown

A big theme among the participants on our course is that we need to make more conscious choices about the food we eat. So on that note, we thought it would be a good idea to talk to Gabby Delellis, who runs Homegrown in POP Brixton and provides the delicious food we've been eating every Wednesday evening.

Q. What is Homegrown and what is your ethos?

Gabby: Homegrown is a juice bar and café. It came about because I grew up on a farm in Sussex. My family is Italian in origin so everything was farm-to-table. My granddad has a butcher's so all of our meat came from animals we reared on the land. My nan, my mum and my dad used to grow all our vegetables.

I went travelling for five years and then I moved straight to London. And what I found when I'd moved to London was that there was nothing promoting sustainability or farm-to-table. There was no focus on locally sourced produce in restaurants. When I went out with my friends I couldn't find anything healthy to eat that was fast food - healthy fast food - which really surprised me. All of my friends used to come over to eat. I used to host a lot of dinner parties, and I have this passion for food.

Ultimately the relationship comes from when I was a child and what I used to eat. We never used to get anything from then supermarket unless it was a dried good and that's where my inspiration comes from. It's all about what's good for the soul. Nothing is bad for you. Everything in moderation.

We're predominantly vegan and vegetarian. Wherever we can be we are dairy free, refined sugar free. We're conscious of people's dietary requirements although we do offer some meat. We're strong on home cooking, fresh produce and seasonal food. That's really what we are about.

Q. Where does your produce come from?

Gabby: Our suppliers are locally based. Most of our produce comes from the UK, apart from some of the fruits that go into our juices like watermelon. Occasionally if a fruit is out of season it will come from Europe. But a lot of what we sell comes from just outside the M25. That's what we try to maintain. It is tough. Because of price, mainly.

Q. What's the thing you're most proud of?

Gabby: That's a tough question. I know that we're not offering something wholly unique. There are people out there doing it. There are loads of salad bars. Loads of cafés. But I'm proud of what we've managed to achieve in a year [since opening]. Our local reputation. We get a lot of repeat business.

But I'm most proud of maintaining affordability. You don't need to break the bank to eat healthily. What you find when you go into a lot of places is that you're buying a box of salad and because it's got a tiny bit of superfood in there, you know, all of these key words consumers are drawn to, you end up spending £10 for a salad box. We try to maintain affordability because it doesn't have to be expensive. That's one thing I'm quite proud of - that people can come in and eat, and not feel that they're being ripped off when they're choosing to eat tasty food.

Q. If you could change one thing about the food system, what would you change?

Gabby: Probably farming, where it all originates. The source. There's a man in America whose name has slipped my mind who is revolutionising the farming system. He uses a rotation process. He starts with his cows in one field, and rotates the herd through his fields. There should be more positive influences on farming.

As a consumer, we really need to start changing our mindset about food... what we want from a vegetable and what we see. We're very set in our ways. If a carrot doesn't look like a [perfect] carrot we won't buy it. And that's such a shame because there's so much waste when all vegetables and fruits are good. Just because it doesn't look perfect doesn't mean it isn't edible. We try and promote ugly fruit here.

Q. When people come into Homegrown, what's the big trend you notice your customers are asking for from you?

Gabby: Our juices sell massively. But I think a lot of people are becoming conscious about animals. We have a lot of people who come in and love our vegan cookies. They don't contain any dairy. Our vegan sweet treats are our biggest sellers. People are becoming much more conscious about what is in their food.

Q. And finally, what's hot on the menu at the moment?

Gabby: At the moment I absolutely love our spring salad. It's bulgur wheat, green peppers, spring onions, coriander and feta with a tamari and olive oil dressing. It's delicious.

Q. Thanks Gabby.

Gabby: Thank you!

You can find more information about Homegrown on Twitter - @homegrown_ldn - and Facebook. They are open every day in POP Brixton and also available for event catering.

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Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Session 4 (Crystallizing), Wednesday 6th April 2016

Link to today's presentation HERE

What today’s session is about

  • Crystallizing the vision for what amazing things could happen
  • Using 4D mapping to get a sense of that
  • An introduction to prototyping
  • Hitting the upward curve of the U
    What we will have done by the end of the session

    • Experience Social Presencing Theatre
    • Understand the tools for prototyping
    • Have ‘crystallized’ further the ideas for possible projects

      Where we are on the U Curve

      We're on the upward curve of the U, where we are starting to take what we have listened to and generate some insights, with the aim of moving towards prototyping: where the action happens.

      Lesson - Social Presencing Theatre and 4D Mapping 

      • 4D mapping helps us find an underlying wisdom about a system as we move from Sculpture 1 to 2.
      • Mindfulness is key: 4D mapping is not about acting out pre-conceived ideas
      • 4D mapping is teasing out what might be significant as we move from where we are now to what things could look like (the future reality)
      • How we move in SPT is based on what is actually emerging, not what we think something should be
      • The inverse of this process is Absencing

        Activity 1 - Social Presencing Theatre

        In Social Presencing Theater, the word theater is used in connection to its root meaning – a place where something significant becomes visible, or where a community of people can see a shared experience. 4D mapping makes visible the current reality in a social system, such as a school system, health care system, or the food system.

        We're going to split up into groups and have a go and some role playing to see what new insights we can generate.

          Lesson: Prototyping 
          The principles of prototyping:

          • Clarify the core questions that you want to explore with your prototype
          • Find a group of fully committed people & cultivate your shared commitment
          • Iterate, Iterate, Iterate
          • Create “landing strips” for the future that is wanting to emerge
          • Listen to what is emerging from others
          • Beware two major dangers and pitfalls: mindless action and actionless minds 

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          Friday, 1 April 2016

          About Lambeth Food Partnership, our Partner

          Founded in 2012, Lambeth Food Partnership (LFP) is a groundbreaking, innovative scheme that operates in Lambeth. It is a local organization that aims to galvanise organisations and individuals to cultivate a healthier and more sustainable food culture. LFP is a membership organisation open to anyone who lives or works in Lambeth and cares about improving our food.

          Lambeth has been awarded Food Flagship status and is one of only two London boroughs leading the way in tackling child obesity and health and social inequality in an innovative way. The Flagship Food Borough project in Lambeth is being led by the Lambeth Food Partnership,

          The Lambeth Food Partnership wants all Lambeth residents to develop a love of healthy and sustainable food.It aims to help residents gain the knowledge, passion and skills to grow, buy, cook and enjoy food with their family, friends and community. It wants to make Lambeth the go-to destination in London for diverse, healthy and exciting food.

          LFP works with the local community to help join up the dots - all the different groups and individuals who care about issues like healthy eating, local growing, food waste and making sure that our kids can inherit a food system that is ethical, sustainable and practical.

          You can follow LFP on Twitter and Facebook.
          Read More

          Thursday, 31 March 2016

          Coaching Circle, Saturday 2nd April 2016

          Come along to the hub at 10.30am on Saturday for a coaching circle practice.

          We got a taster of what coaching circles and case clinics were the week before last. This Saturday we'll have more time to really explore their full potential and get a chance to put deep listening skills into practice.

          Useful resources:

          Read More

          Videos - Presencing, Absencing, the U Curve and Transformation

          Yesterday the big themes were the the U Curve and Presencing, and, after three weeks, perhaps a better sense of where this U.Lab process is leading and what it's all about.

          We've got some video links for you:

          • Introduction to Presencing (5m36s): Presencing requires us to let go of the old and open ourselves completely to something that we can sense but that we cannot fully know before we see it emerging. This moment can feel like jumping across an abyss. At the moment we leap, we have no idea whether we will make it across. As human beings, we are on a journey of becoming who we really are. This journey to ourselves ­ to our Selves ­ is open­-ended, full of disruptions, confusion, and breakdowns, but also breakthroughs. It is a journey that essentially is about accessing the deeper sources of the self. This video starts our journey through the bottom of the U.
          • ‘Facing the fire’ (8m40s): The territory at the bottom of the U is about connecting with your source of inner knowing. A deep threshold there needs to be crossed to connect to one’s real source of presence, creativity, and power. All of us have probably had moments of presencing. We just might not have realized it at the time.
          • Absencing­ (11m24s): What you've learned so far about Theory U is only half the story. In this video, we introduce the inverse of presencing, which we call absencing. This completes the seven ­point summary of Theory U that we started in Week 1.
          • 8 Acupuncture Points for Societal Transformation (16m10s): This week, we have been exploring the two root questions of creativity: Who is my Self? What is my Work? In this video, we explain how these two questions are connected to the larger societal changes we described in Week 1 using the iceberg model.”
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          Wednesday, 30 March 2016

          Session 3 (Presencing), Wednesday 30th March 2016

          Link to today's presentation HERE

          What today’s session is about

          • Group mindfulness
          • The U curve
          • Absencing and presencing 
          • Generate ideas for food system prototypes 
          • Group journaling

            What we will have done by the end of the session

            • Practice group mindfulness
            • Explore and describe where you are on the U curve in relation to your food system journey 
            • Generate ideas for food system prototypes 
            • Experience group journaling (with a focus on your “food system Work”) .. as a tool for connecting with your emerging future

              Activity 1 - Mindfulness practice

              • Pause and notice body feels, notice the in and out breath, don't change it, just observe
              • Notice if there is a sense of relaxation, or tension
              • Allow a little more relaxation
              • Notice the in breath and the outbreath.

              You can read the mindfulness handout here.

                Lesson - Absencing and Presencing 

                • Energy follows attention
                • We have to go through a process with three movements
                • This only works if we cultivate the inner instruments: Open Mind, Open Heart, Open Will
                • At source are two root questions:
                  • Who is my Self?
                  • What is my Work?
                • You will face three enemies:
                  • Voice of Judgment
                  • Voice of Cynicism
                  • Voice of Fear
                • You need to hold the space to go through the same process on a collective level
                • The inverse of this process is Absencing
                Presencing, done right, marks the turning point in the process, where you move from the observing and questioning part through to the creative and transformational part.

                Activity 2 - World Café

                • What can we do to improve something for x problem?
                • What is the essence of this idea?
                • What would this look like if it was set up?
                • What would be the benefits?
                • How can we engage with the community 
                  • to give x
                  • to get x 
                  • to create...?
                • How can we use the resources within our hub / U.Lab course to do...?

                Activity 3: Group Journaling 

                • The essence of this journaling is that one person asks the questions to enable you to find your own answers to these questions.
                • Give time for the group to quietly write answers. 
                • Go through all the questions and don’t adapt them.
                • You’ll have about 10 minutes to ask and answer the questions. 
                Activity 4- Check out
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                Wednesday, 23 March 2016

                Videos - Co-sensing, listening and case clinics

                Today you learnt about the a range of co-sensing concepts and tools (empathy walk, reflective journaling, levels of conversation and case clinics).

                We've got some video links for you:

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                Session 2 (Co-sensing), Wednesday 23rd March 2016

                Link to today's presentation HERE

                What today’s session is about
                • Empathy - learning to deep listen to other people
                • Reflection - allows participants to reflect more deeply and identify concrete intuitive insights 
                • Levels of conversation - how listening can be different things
                • Coaching circles - how to coach one another as a group

                What we will have done by the end of the session
                • Paired up and done an Empathy Walk
                • Done some Reflective Journaling on food
                • Debriefed on journaling and the empathy walk
                • Learnt about the Four Levels of Conversation
                • Had an introduction to coaching circles 
                • Practiced coaching circles

                Activity 1 - The Empathy Walk

                Please could you:
                • Pair up with someone you don’t know
                • Read the handout (PDF)
                • Spend around 20 minutes doing the exercise

                Activity 2 - Reflective Journaling

                One Guided journaling leads participants through a self-reflective process. This practice allows participants to access deeper levels of self-knowledge, and to connect this knowledge to concrete actions. It's a personal exercise, rooted in honesty. There is never a requirement to share what you journal.

                You can get more information on reflective journaling here.

                Lesson: Co-sensing and Levels of Listening

                Co-sensing is the early part of the 'U' where the ideas of observing and deep listening are key. You can see a short video about it here.

                One of the main ideas about U.Lab is that we slip into old patterns of doing things. And as a result, the solutions we come up with up with run the risk of not properly addressing the problem they want to fix. How we diagnose the problem is a big part of that, We all know how to listen: we do it every day. But listening is a skill. Deep listening is something most of us are poor at if we don't practice. So the point here is to think about listening as, at its deepest, a process of empathy, connection and a shift to something new in the future. There's a great video on levels of listening here. You can also see a concise summary of Theory U here.

                Activity 3: Listening Conversations
                Think of that conversation you had in the last week around food:

                • What level were you operating at? 
                • What level would you like to be at? 
                • What benefit would that bring? 

                Activity 4: Coaching Circles
                Coaching circles are probably the single most effective method in U.Lab for moving from concept to practice. The backbone of coaching circles is a process we call case clinics.

                To practice a case clinic we need 3 roles filled:

                • Casegiver: The casegiver shares their personal aspiration and leadership challenge that is current, concrete, important
                • Coaches: Coaches listen deeply - they do not try to “fix” the problem, no matter how tempting it seems
                • Timekeeper: one of the coaches manages the time

                You can get detailed instructions on how to run a case clinic here. There is also a longish video on it here.

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                Thursday, 17 March 2016

                Visit, Saturday 19th March 2016

                This is an optional day. You will be able to practice a U.Lab tool called a 'Learning Journey'.

                We'll meet at Impact Hub Brixton this Saturday at 10.30am. Andry will spend 20 minutes talking through the tool and sharing handouts.

                From there, you will have the choice between 2 visits:

                1. Crystal Palace Food Market: Explore the award-winning food market, meet and talk to local food producers and market organisers, help U.Lab participant Ann to distribute hops...

                How to get there from Brixton: Catch the #3 bus from outside ICELAND SUPERMARKET. The bus takes around 30 minutes.

                2. Maytree Nursery: Join U.Lab participant Crispin from Father Nature at the Maytree Nursery school from 10.30 for some planting – and learn how the project is getting young children into the growing movement.

                How to get there from Brixton: Catch the #355 bus from outside ICELAND SUPERMARKET. The bus takes around 10 minutes, but can be infrequent. Alternatively, it is a 20 minute walk.

                See you either Saturday or next Wednesday!

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                The U.Lab Sourcebook

                The U.Lab Sourcebook is 12 pages long and has a mix of schematics, explanation and exercises for Week 1 (Co-Initiating).

                It contains some of the key diagnostic ideas - the Iceberg Model, Theory U, Levels of Listening, Guided Journaling.

                It aims to help you find a new way of thinking about the problems you (and the food system) face, rather than leaping straight into trying to fix them.

                You don't have to do all the exercises in the book, but it is useful to get an idea of what reflection and listening mean through the diagnostic process.
                Read More

                What happened at Session 1 (Co-initiating)

                Last night (Wednesday 16th) was the first of the six Wednesday evening learning and practice sessions for U.Lab Food at the Impact Hub in Brixton.

                A really big welcome to Aiste, Alexandro, Ann, Charlotte, Clara, Claude, Crispin, Duncan, Eva, Flora, Jane, Kat, Kellie, Kemi, Kuli, Laetitia, Laura, Nina, Olivia, Sara, Sonia and Zoe. Thank you for your amazing energy last night.

                What does that energy look like? Hundreds of ideas  - two hundred and forty three, to be exact - posted on the wall. What the food needs are, what needs to change, where that change can happen. The power of a group of smart, engaged changemakers coming together to do something.

                Our first evening as a group on the course was introduction, learning, expression and practice. It began with a check-in, which probably feels a bit weird to those of us that haven't come across it before. But it makes sense: what's the point of spending time coming together if your mind is elsewhere?

                And through the evening we got a look at what the challenge looks like: before you address the problem you've got to understand it. And to understand it you need to see it for what it is: a bit like an iceberg.

                In the middle of all of this we found time to eat some dinner and talk to one another a little more: what do you do? I'm involved in a growing group, a community store, an open orchard, a food waste programme. I like to cook, to pick, to blog, to change how our kids think about food. This food's not bad, is it? It was made twenty metres away. Buying local doesn't seem like such a hardship.

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                Wednesday, 16 March 2016

                Videos - The Iceberg Model

                Today you learnt about the Iceberg Model, one of the core concepts in the U Lab process.

                We've got some video links for you:

                Symptoms (6m30) - the underlying structures, paradigms of thought, and sources

                Structural disconnects (3m15) - what is happening below the water line?

                Practical implications (3m29) - to change the world, we need to go on a journey collectively that connects us with our deeper sources of creativity and self
                Read More

                Session 1 (Co-initiating), Wednesday 16th March 2016

                Link to today's presentation HERE

                What today’s session was about
                • Attend - listen to that which life calls you to do
                • Connect - listen to and dialogue with the interesting players in the field
                • Co-initiate a diverse group that inspires a common intention
                What we will have done by the end of the session
                • Understand who everyone in the group is and create a physical contact board
                • Understand the U journey and the course overview
                • Develop a shared understanding of the food system in Lambeth
                • Share views on what needs to change
                Activity 1 - Creating your Profile

                Please could you:
                • write up a brief profile with contact details to go up on the board 
                • do a self portrait
                What to include:
                • your name
                • your skills
                • what you are working on 
                • how you are connected to the food system...

                Activity 2 - Check in – thumbs exercise

                Lesson: The Iceberg model

                “The iceberg model as a whole suggests that beneath the visible level of events and crises, there are underlying structures, paradigms of thought, and sources that are responsible for creating them. If ignored, they will keep us locked into re-enacting the same old patterns time and again.”


                Activity 3: How does this connect with your reason to be here?
                • Your organisation
                • Your community
                • Your own personal goals

                • My most important challenge right now is… 
                • I’m focused on creating change on a … (personal, organizational, systemic, etc.) level…
                • U.Lab will be a success for me when…

                Activity 4: Pairing up exercise – mapping the food system

                Activity 5 - Check out – thumbs exercise

                Read More

                Friday, 26 February 2016

                8 innovations that could update our economic system (and how we consume)

                The following is an excerpt from an article Otto Scharmer, the brains behind U.Lab, wrote in 2014 about the power to change systems with innovation:

                There are eight institutional innovations that, as a set, could update the economic system to operate more intelligently across silos and boundaries by shifting the economic logic from ego-to eco-system awareness:

                1. Nature

                Instead of treating nature’s gifts as commodities that we buy, use, and throw away, treat the natural world as an eco-system that we need to cultivate.

                2. Entrepreneurship

                Reinvent our concept of labour and rather than thinking of work as a “job” think about it as passion-led entrepreneurship.

                3. Money

                Reinvent our concept of money. Instead of extractive, capital should be intentional, serving rather than harming the real economy.

                4. Technology

                Reinvent how we develop technologies. Empower all people to be makers and creators rather than passive recipients.

                5. Leadership

                Instead of individual super-egos, we need to build the capacity to co-sense and co-shape the future on the level of the whole system.

                6. Consumption

                Rather than promoting consumerism and using metrics like GDP, move towards sharing and collaborative consumption, and using measurements of well-being such as Gross National Happiness (GNH) and the Genuine Progress Indicator (GPI).

                7. Governance

                Reinvent how we coordinate. Move toward complementing the three older mechanisms (hierarchies, markets, and special interest groups) through a fourth mechanism: acting from shared awareness, from seeing the whole.

                8. Ownership

                Advance the old forms of state and private ownership by creating a third category of ownership rights: commons-based ownership that better protects the interests of future generations.

                These eight “acupuncture points”, as a set, could help us to shift the old outdated capitalism into a 21st-century economy that creates wellbeing for all.

                Read More

                Thursday, 25 February 2016

                About Incredible Edible Lambeth, our Partner

                What is Incredible Edible Lambeth?

                Incredible Edible Lambeth is a collection of people and organisations who work together to make sure that healthy, sustainable, locally produced food is available to everyone living in Lambeth, regardless of income, both now and in the future.

                Where did it all start?

                It all started in with Incredible Edible Todmorden  and we found the ethos inspiring. We believe in systems which are easily replicable and have an eco-system of their own. Many of our projects demonstrate this.

                What’s special about Lambeth?

                Like most London boroughs, Lambeth is a series of interconnecting villages. Those villages are full of people growing and producing food (123 growing projects and counting). They are also full of people who suffer food poverty and ill health. Lambeth is a diverse borough offering a rich food heritage

                Incredible Edible's Aim is?

                To increase healthy sustainable food grown, produced, sold and eaten trough transforming our local food system, by celebrating, supporting and strengthening community food activity and the connections between local people and local food.

                Who can join?

                Incredible Edible Lambeth is everyone who cares about our aims and is connected to Lambeth through living or working. We are not bigger than our active members who are out there doing projects under various scopes and names.  You can join by becoming a member.  Help us by being active. Discuss with us on twitter or Facebook.

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                Six Weeks to Change the World: The U.Lab: Grow Your Own Leaders syllabus

                • Week 0: Intro night Connect with others working in the food system. Vision what you want from the Lambeth food system by 2035, hear an overview of the U.Lab course with Q&A. Expect high energy and enthusiastic people – and of course food.
                • Week 1: Mapping the food system Develop a shared understanding of the food system – what is broken, what the power dynamics look like and areas for influence
                • Week 1b: Optional visit Visit a community food project and practice a new communications tool
                • Week 2: Connecting the personal to the group Practice a coaching circle, supporting each other in individual leadership challenges
                • Week 3: Bringing it all together Understand how Lambeth-based food growers, makers, retailers, innovators and redistributors work together, and discover the sweet spots for change
                • Week 3b: Optional Visit Visit a community food project
                • Week 4: Prototyping Get creative and build mock versions of your ideas in a group
                • Week 5: Developing Prototypes Build on what you started in Week 4 – get feedback fast and adapt your project
                • Week 6: Celebration and next steps

                Each session will be on a Wednesday, will run from 6pm until 8.30pm, and dinner will be provided.

                Week 0: Wednesday 9th March (Launch)
                Week 1: Wednesday 16th March
                Week 1b: Saturday 19th March
                Week 2: Wednesday 23rd March
                Week 3: Wednesday 30th April
                Week 3b: Saturday 2nd April
                Week 4: Wednesday 6th April
                Week 5 Wednesday 13th April
                Week 6: Wednesday 20th April

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                U.Lab: Grow Your Own Leaders - Are you up for the challenge?

                Impact Hub Brixton and Incredible Edible Lambeth would like to invite you to take part in a leadership development programme aimed at food leaders like you.

                We all want to put people at the heart of the food we create. What if here in Lambeth we produced, distributed and ate food in a way that supported our community’s need to live healthily, socially, sustainably and affordably enabled food producers, manufacturers, retailers and innovators to work effectively together enabled us all to get more involved in meeting our own food needs?

                But we can’t do this on our own.

                Many of the problems we face with how our food is grown, distributed, eaten – and sometimes wasted – don’t have easy answers. People locally and globally, whether citizens, local growers or large manufacturers, struggle to see the bigger picture, or understand how to make an impact. We need a different approach.

                We are convening a group of 25 people for a 6 week programme to jointly find these answers for Lambeth and beyond. Food growers, retailers, manufacturers, caterers, distributors, policy-makers, innovators, activists, writers – come and join us.

                We will work with an approach known as U.Lab. This is a way of leading profound change that has been developed by action researchers at MIT, and practiced by leaders around the world for over 20 years.

                Are you up for the challenge?

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                U.Lab: My experience

                Wayne Trevor – Lambeth resident, lead of community projects West Norwood Bzz Garage and Open Orchard, Hub member, TfL employee and U.Lab participant – reflects on what U.Lab: Future of Lambeth meant to him.

                “I’ve been hearing lots about U.Lab – what exactly is it?”

                This was the response I heard from anyone listening to me enthuse about the amazing course I was doing – a course that was having a life-changing impact.

                Reflecting back, I’m not sure I am much clearer on what it is. It’s an Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), as the education bods at MIT like to call it. It’s a leadership course about transforming business, society, and self. Or as I often told people, “it’s basically a theory that explains why everything in the world is broken, and gives the tools and hope on how to fix them”.

                At its heart is Theory U, an approach to leading profound change that has been developed by action researchers at MIT, and practiced by leaders around the world, for over 20 years. We got to practice Theory U on the topic of ‘the future of Lambeth’.

                And when I say practice, I mean practice. We got to act out (yup, cringes and all) how we experience the systems in Lambeth and how we’d like them to be, in a process called Social Presencing Theatre. We listened, meditated, journalled, listened, watched, coached, shared, prototyped and listened some more through 10 weeks of the U.Lab course.

                The thing that got me the most was the honesty and vulnerability it encouraged us to express. How often in any workplace or community group are we encouraged to really share what’s going on, to express those little doubts, those massive frustrations, the despair of not knowing what the hell we (or someone else) is doing? All of this is welcomed in U.Lab – it’s necessary even. And we do it on a personal level, and as a group. It helps us to move through those experiences. To work out what is of value. What we need to keep and what we need to let go of. And then we take all of that and we do something that we collectively think will make a difference – a process called prototyping.

                The course is finished. But two months later and 8 of us are still prototyping. That was how valuable we all thought this stuff was – so far clocking up about 100 hours of work after the course. We’re following our energy – on running a U.Lab course on the Lambeth Food System. Our hope is that we can bring a group of people together who will bring energy and enthusiasm to make some amazing changes.

                Watch this space Lambeth.
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                Monday, 1 February 2016

                Key Dates

                Week 0: Wednesday 9th March (Launch)

                This is our launch day, when we welcome anyone interested in joining the programme to join us at the Impact Hub in Pop Brixton from 6pm.

                Week 1: Wednesday 16th March

                This is our first day of the course and is for invitees only (people who have a confirmed place on the course and who have paid the course fees). We'll be meeting one another, giving an introduction into Theory U and jumping into some of the practical exercises. You can find the presentation given in the session here.

                Week 1b: Saturday 19th March

                This is an optional day. We will be doing two visits:

                Week 2: Wednesday 23rd March

                This week was all about co-sensing and how to listen.

                Week 3: Wednesday 30th March

                This week was all about presencing, the U curve, standing out in the car park at Pop Brixton and getting a sense of where we are going.

                Week 3b: Saturday 2nd April

                This is an optional day. Time to practice coaching circles/case clinics at the hub. We start at 10.30am.

                Week 4: Wednesday 6th April

                Week 5 Wednesday 13th April

                Week 6: Wednesday 20th April

                This is our last formal day of the programme. But the Impact Hub will be running its Open Project nights for any participants that would like to keep working on joint projects.
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                Andry Anastasiou

                What's your story?

                I'm a member of the Impact Hub and a previous participant on the U.Lab course. I've been involved in collaborative communities in Lambeth for several years and work as a professional leadership coach.

                What is your connection to the Food System?

                I'm a food lover and an amateur above all. Although I worked in Brixton Wholefoods when I first moved to Brixton my main motivation to help improve the food system in Lambeth is from the perspective of a user: food has a central place in my life, whether it is shopping for food in local markets or cooking for friends and family.

                What is your experience of U.Lab?

                As a qualified and experienced coach with the Institute of Leadership and Management and a qualified coaching with 20 years’ experience I found U.Lab to be a genuinely inspirational and energizing experience that helped inform my own work life.

                What will the success of this course look like to you?

                Success for me will look like better, people-centric leadership on the food issues that matter to all of us. I'm particularly conscious of the capacity for this course to help changemakers come up with more holistic and sustainable solutions.
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                Sue Sheehan

                What's your story?

                I participated in the last U.Lab course, with two hats on - as a participant and with my professional interest as someone who works for Lambeth Council to promote community action and participation.

                What is your connection to the Food System?

                I'm lucky enough to have made my passion for the food system my job. I cofounded a community group dedicated to fighting climate change, was a founding member of Transition Town Brixton and from that was asked to be Lambeth's Green Community Champion. Part of my job is to connect people who want a greener, more sustainable community with one another and help them build their own groups and networks.

                What is your experience of U.Lab?

                I was initially skeptical but I found the course really started to resonate with me, and help me think through some of the intractable problems that we face time and time again when trying to change the food system.

                What will the success of this course look like to you?

                I would love to see this course help changemakers in our community develop better ways of working towards solutions to the problems our Lambeth food system has. We have such energy in our communities and harnessing that power to build movements is a real challenge.
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                Wayne Trevor

                What's your story?

                I'm a member of the Impact Hub and a previous participant on the U.Lab course who wanted to carry on with what we started to help bring about real change in the food system in Lambeth and beyond.

                What is your connection to the Food System?

                I'm passionate about local growing and using unloved public spaces to contribute to a more sustainable, healthier city. I've volunteered at the West Norwood Feast, run a trade school growing edible flowers. For the past year and a half I've been running Bzz Garage, a project to transform the West Norwood Bus Garage into a bee-friendly haven and Open Orchard, a project to plant more than 100 fruit trees in public spaces.

                What is your experience of U.Lab?

                I really liked the way it forced us all to be honest and open about vulnerabilities.  For me, being able to express those little doubts, those massive frustrations, uncertainties, were key to working more collaboratively and not falling into old patterns of working.

                What will the success of this course look like to you?

                Success for me will look like better quality listening and embedding of some of the core principles of U.Lab in how the group on the programme interact with one another as they work towards new ideas for how to change the food system in Lambeth.

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