Week 1

Strategies for Visual Research

[So this is my first post documenting the SVR project.]

My variable are: 

Older people / Happiness / London Councils

My insight is that, nowadays, in the West, older people have lost their voice. They are treated has if they were second class citizens, no one seems to care about what thy have to offer. If you compare this to other societies, such as pretty much anywhere in Africa, or, in China for example, where the elders re the decision makers within their families/communities, then by contrast you get the full picture of what i want to address.

My idea/proposed solution is simple. Elder have a lot to offer. They have experience, they have lived, we just need to give them the right platform to express themselves, but... eventually here lies the key, we need to give them an audience.

[Ill later explain hoe this project works, it is a social design / design thinking project, yet, we are doing the processes in reverse order. Yes, its an experiment, so, rather than starting by research, we start by delivering a solution as if it was in its final phase. Strange but interesting at the same time]

So, my idea was, why don't we put these people that have had 30 year careers in contact with people that are 3 years away from starting a career? Why don't we create a system where older people can share what they have experienced throughout their lives? Why dont we give a change to younger people to get valuable insights into what wrk really is by putting them in contact with those who know? You see the picture.

As for the first delivery day [On Mondays i must deliver that week's work] i then had to come up with a format that would answer our matrix of three variables, having previously determined the problem and the route for action.

This was my proposal. People liked it. Design wise it s rather a mock up than a finished piece of work, but, both my tutor and my colleagues understood the message. They liked it. I liked it.

And so you see, the idea is: to establish a platform where young people - who are having difficulties deciding wether they want to go to university, to do an apprenticeship (among the million other job/career related doubts and questions they have) - can be in contact and seek advice from those who have had a career already, those who are bored at home, those who feel they have lost their voice but still have so much to offer.

One of the reasons i am quite excited about this is the fact that those two target audiences (You might have realized that i will have to work both with/for youngsters and elders) have a natural bond between each-other. My younger audience could start being recruited at the GCSE level, where they are young and still (research has not been done, remember, ASSUMPTION) are still very much under the authority of their own grandparents. On the other side, kids could be the ones influencing their grandparents into joining as well. 

Bellow are some shots from my sketch book so far

My original idea, still in class on the day of the brief [remember that i had not seen the variables beforehand, so i had to make a decision and pick the three variables rather quickly in order to start working] was to help older people saving money by introducing them to online banking and comparison websites kind of thing. I thought this way i was addressing a real problem faced by elders, they are wasting money. But then i talked to my PBL group and people seemed not to go so well with the idea. I realized it was too restrictive, i had a very specific problem, a very hard to define audience (remember that i was making the assumption that all these people would care about saving £240 a year). 

Regardless, i was there in class and i had to present some work at the end. We had to present some outcome proposal. So the idea was to create some piece of direct mail, to be either mailed or distributed on the streets, where older people would be confronted with their own technological insecurities in a funny, witty and rememberable way. Some part of the material would then serve the purpose of allowing people to answer back by submitting their interest.

Then, already at home, already getting a bit anxious because the idea wasn't moving forward, although i shouldn't, i did some (just a little) research. I had to, i was stuck.
My research has shown that there are problems regarding older people and employment. That if by one hand, people fancy the idea of retiring and having more time for themselves, on the other, many end up getting bored. So i had this idea. THE SLOWEST COURIER SERVICE IN LONDON. I admit i liked it mostly because f it's craziness, because of it's surrealism. But think about it, this would allow for businesses to save money when they need something to be delivered on the same day but it is not a matter of having it within the next 20 minutes. Businesses would save money by hiring a pensioner who would travel by bus/tube, and they would be helping to fight the boredom of these people. 

Local Councils (remember, my third variable) would then be the link between businesses and older people. Older people on their side would have something to do, would travel (which is something research has shown they like doing) and would feel useful (which is another thing research as shown, they feel society doesn't need them), and would make some extra cash. (Again, this is a recurrently stated benefit for the elders who have started part time jobs)

I agree that the idea is rather... surreal. But, but, it was here that i started to think about two things:

01 The solution must come in from making my audience feel useful (Rather than helping them out directly, for example by giving them training onto how to use internet banking)

02 The solution had to come from a partnership. I realized it would all work better if rather then being the council helping people out, the council would work out as a middle man, an intermediary between two points - the elder and... by now you know, youngsters. But the idea had not come already.

So, the big idea started here. I love words and often (sometimes too much) i try and build a concept based on how cool would it sounds, i know its wrong, but hey, in this case, it triggered my mind.

I had this realisation. "But wait a minute, why would older people who have huge experience in their fields simply not work as consultants?" Of course i am not the first one to think about it and i immediately found this idea explored by other people.

Then i thought. But, hum, "share" is really flexible, it would work well to make older people sharing their resources as well, like... sharing a house, sharing tasks, sharing experiences... Again, a little more research showed that this is obviosuly being done already. Wandsworth (my local council) website has loads of activities available for older people. If for one side this made me think that, hey, "why are all these activities not available in one place?" it also made me think, "pheww, why the hell are these events only available to older people? Wouldn't it be better if they could spend some time with younger people on their activities?"

And so, the idea was born. You've seen it already.

That's it for now...


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