Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Participle: A new approach

Hilary Cottam is an intriguing example of a public problem solver. She has worked on redesigning schools for learning, improving prisons in Great Britain, and re-engaging citizens in their communities.

Future Currents is an example of work she did on the average London household's contribution to climate change. The problem: 40% of the UK's greenhouse gas emissions come from residential units. The solution: "...make our energy use visible and motivate behaviour change." Several ideas were developed including household monitoring, reward incentives, and products "too cool" not to have. The big idea: the One Million Roofs campaign to make London the first distributed power station through micro generation.

She's starting something new: Participle, which she calls a center for "transformative design." In her words:

"We will engage in three closely linked types of work: transformational projects: ‘proof of concept’ solutions that work at scale; you will be able to see and measure the difference we have made at the neighbourhood level, in cities and rural communities nationally; transformational ideas: world leading, rigorous new analysis and proposals to influence the development of policy; transformation design: training in the tools and methodology of our inter-disciplinary team’s approach to any issue.

We will work in partnership with the private, public and third sector organisations."
This is right in line with 1) the multi-sector approach I've been writing about and 2) discussions I've had with designers and design firms here in the states. Glad to see this is happening. I'll be watching the work at Participle.

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