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.
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