Bright Green Enterprise

Accelerating Green Growth: Climate-KIC

On Wednesday 8th February, Lucy and Julia from Bright Green Enterprise attended the Climate-KIC conference on ‘Supporting Green Business Exchange’ at the Innovation Campus of Birmingham. The event was hosted by Climate-KIC, Europe’s biggest public-private innovation partnership focused on Climate Change, which seeks to bring together multidisciplinary innovators from across Europe in business, academia (students and researchers), SME accelerators, funders, educators and more. Ultimately, those who have a passion for our planet and Climate Change and who are doing something to help tackle its growing instabilities.

Bright Green Enterprise Climate-KIC

As well as presenting on BGE’s work, we heard from a number of exciting organisations who are ploughing the path towards a more sustainable future. Focusing primarily on the business sector, the conference spotlighted those whose model seeks to mitigate the impact of Climate Change either through science and technology, education or influencing policy-level support. The keynote speech was given by Christophe Williams, the managing director of Naked Energy, an award-winning British design and innovation company specialising in solar technology and energy conservation.

Naked Energy Climate KIC Bright Green Enterprise

 

So what did we learn? Hearing from these sector-disrupting organisations, it was clear to see that the path to greener growth is already underway. How quickly the business world can become greener, however, remains to be seen. What needs to happen are not just top-down changes to the way we manufacture and implement policy-level decisions but how we as consumers apply our ethics to the things that we buy. Moreover, it’s about building the right capabilities through education to inform these choices and develop skills in design, technology and business acumen to implement these plans; it’s about building the right capabilities in product design and manufacturing so that we can reduce our carbon footprint; and it’s about building the right capabilities at a national and international level so that we’re no longer ‘locked-in’ to pathways that are counter-productive to pursuing greener growth targets.

 

Being Human: Gender by Design?

Last year, an investigation by The Times newspaper revealed that on average, women and girls were charged 37% more for clothes, beauty products and toys than men and boys. This is a significant amount to charge for what is often the same product use but packaged and marketed in a slightly different way. More recently, this has been picked up in Tesco where women’s (pink) disposable razor blades were charged at more than twice the price of the comparative men’s product.

So what should we take from this research? Well, apart from the obvious unfair cost advantage of buying male-targeted products, it warrants a closer inspection of how and why certain seemingly ‘unisex’ products are assigned and designed by gender and what this might mean for their users.

The subject of gender has been discussed I would imagine for millennia, or more specifically the differences between gender have. Boys we are told particularly like slugs and snails, whilst girls prefer sugar and spice (and all things nice). Boys like blue things, girls like pink things…

But even if these sweeping generalisations were true of a population, how much of this is inherent in us when we’re born and how much of our choices and behaviours are motivated by the design of things we use or associate with every day? And in the design of ‘things’ are we limiting the potential pathways and capabilities of boys and girls alike? Do we even make choices about our future careers based on the design and marketing of products in certain industries? Would more women for instance, follow STEM industry pathways (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) if the ‘packaging’ of these environments were different? At Bright Green Enterprise we aim to explore these questions and more with students.

Being Human is a Bright Green programme where we discuss with students the role that gender plays in shaping design and vice versa. Being introduced to the concept of gender in everyday design as well as learning through global case studies how this can affect the lives of people across the planet, students are able to explore and apply their creative skills to human-centred design (rather than gender-centred design), even getting to design their own vision of how certain products and workplaces should look!

If you’re interested in having a chat about this programme, please get in touch. Being Human is a flexible programme for a small group of students or a larger year group and can be run as a short one-hour talk or as an interactive half-day workshop.

Looking Back to the Future

We’re taking a look back over 2016 at some of the highlights for Bright Green Enterprise Education and what this might hold in store for 2017.

1. We worked with some great young people…

Last year saw us reach new schools across the UK whilst continuing our relationship with our wonderful long-term partners. Bright Green Enterprise works with a range of schools across State, Independent, International, College and University level institutions. From Key Stage 2 to Key Stage 5 we have delivered to over 5,000 young people in 2016, 64% of who were girls, helping them to develop their enterprising acumen, workplace professionalism and understanding of sustainability issues, globally and locally.

2. We launched Creative Disruptors…

Creative Disruptors Sandtimer Makerversity

In April we launched the six-month Creative Disruptors challenge in the UK, our new international innovation challenge for schools in the UK and Tanzania. Working together, student teams problem solved issues of sustainability under the 2016 theme, ‘HOME’, whilst developing their creative hard skills and professional soft skills. Working with Makerversity, the challenge’s makerspace partner at Somerset House in London was a particular highlight for all participants, including teachers!

3. We researched cool technologies in Tanzania…

Smallholder Farming Tanzania BGE

In May, we travelled back to Tanzania to conduct a research project into smallholder farming technology explored through the design process of Twende Social Innovation Centre in Arusha. Visiting smallholder farmers in the Mbulumbulu Highlands of the north we analysed the relationship between technology, local ecosystems and networks. A full report will be available later this month!

4. We talked about the maker industries to girls…

In June we were invited to the RNLI headquarters in Poole to provide the Key Note speech for Women in Engineering day. Opening the day’s exciting events with an introduction into how the maker industries are diverse in skills and environments and therefore need more diversity in their human resources, girls from across Dorset schools took part in a range of exciting and creative workshops put on by the RNLI and their organisational partners.

5. We welcomed new mentors on board…

We welcomed new programme mentors from across 3 continents into our growing team: Ilga Miglane (Ukraine / UK), Zenzo Sibanda (Zimbabwe / South Africa), Usama Siddiq (Pakistan) and Cris Sebastian (Germany). With collective experience across a range of innovation fields and a wealth of knowledge and experience of global case studies, including the energy sector, to public policy and sustainable infrastructure, the team has never looked so green!

6. We had some exciting meetings and plotted some more projects…

They say hard work pays off; well we ended the year with some exciting meetings, plotting for new ventures, partnerships and programmes to be launched in 2017. We’re keeping things under wraps for now but hope to share some good news with you soon! Until then…keep watching!

Ten of the Best Sustainable Innovations from 2016!

Let’s face it, 2016 has been a rollercoaster of a ride. For a year that started off with Ziggy Stardust and Snape dying, it ended with a Climate Change denier being elected President of the most powerful country in the world.

To complement this, scientists announced their findings that by 2050 the oceans will have more plastic in them than fish (plastic bag with chips anyone?); but a glimmer of hope came along when China said they would halt new coal mine approvals, close 1,000 mines, increase solar and wind production by 21% and eat less meat in 2016, all in an effort to help reduce carbon emissions and tackle Climate Change, so things were starting to look a little bright. But let’s not be hasty…Donald Trump then promptly posted a Climate Change sceptic, Scott Pruit, to head up the Environmental Protection Agency (Scott, a guy who said his first job if he ever became President would be to scrap this department) AND appointed the head of Exxon Mobil to the role of Secretary of State. Cripes. And amongst all of this real fur came back into fashion and Marmite disappeared from our shelves at the prospect of a divided EU (you’ll have to be British to probably get the seriousness of this).

But lest we cry into our mulled wine and wonder why we should even bother turning up for 2017, we’ve put together a list of our Top Ten favourite sustainable innovation stories from 2016! Stories that are guaranteed to brighten up your outlook on humanity. So sit back and take some inspiration because 2017 is going to be the year we bring bright green back on the agenda.

1. Boyan Slat’s Masterplan to Clean-up the Ocean Hits the North Sea

This exciting prototype is being tested in the windy and wet waters of the north sea this year. Designed to rid the ocean of plastic, the Ocean Cleanup harnesses the heavy-weights of technology and science. Oh, and did we mention that its inventor, Boyan Slat, CEO and Founder, started this when he was a mere 17-years-old and is the youngest ever recipient of the UN’s highest environment award? Read more…

2. The EcoHelmet wins the James Dyson International Award

ecohelmet

The EcoHelmet is a recyclable folding bike helmet made of paper instead of plastics. Using human-centred design engineering, the EcoHelmet has won this year’s James Dyson Award. Read more…

3. The ‘Green Rock Drill’ Shakes up Mining in East Africa

green-rock-drill

Lawrence Ojok, a Tanzanian Arushan engineer and innovator, launched his environmentally-friendly Green Rock Drill for artisanal miners across Africa. Aimed to offer small artisan miners an affordable and clean way to drill rock faces using hand-held power, whilst protecting them against harmful rock powder residue. Read more…

4. Soda Stream’s Hilarious Video Combating Plastic Pollution Goes Viral

Soda Stream, the global technology company which produces gadgets to fizz your water, launched a funny video mimicking the ‘shame’ scene in Game of Thrones. Aimed to raise awareness of plastic bottle wastage (and sell their product), Soda Stream hit the mark when it became one of the most shared videos on Social Media and drew the wrath of Nestle – one of the world’s biggest water and plastic polluters. Read more...

5. Playing Fair: the Story of Fairtrade Footballs

We don’t necessarily put football and fair trade together but this insight into the Fairtrade label and how it’s shaping workers rights and lives in Pakistan offered an interesting glimpse into how mass production, done well, can bring prosperity and enjoyment to thousands across the world. Read more…

6. Leather that’s Made from Pineapples instead of Cows

Let’s face it, cows have it bad. Not only are they farmed in factories for anything from Big Mac’s to leather handbags, they’re also collectively blamed as one of the biggest polluters on our planet due to their propensity to fart out a whopping 114 kilos of methane gas each year (around 19x more potent than CO2!) To tackle this growing issue, and give cows some slack, Ananas Anam, manufactures and sells Pinatex (TM), a leather-like good derived from pineapples, from its head office based in London and is certified as a Vegan product material. Read more…

7. Sweden Incentivises Repair Networks with Tax Breaks

Just when you thought Sweden couldn’t get any cooler, its government has introduced tax incentives to repair networks in order to stimulate reuse, reduce unnecessary waste and protect the environment. #iwishiwasswedish

8. England Introduces a 5p Charge for Plastic Bag Use

ocean-plastic

The UK government introduced a 5p tax on plastic bag use across England, helping to reduce plastic bag consumption by a whopping 85%. Plastic bags are becoming like gold dust and the British public have now forgotten what it was like to live in a world where plastic was free at the till. Great stuff. Read more…

9. A Mobile Fridge that Could Save Millions of Lives

fridge

22-year-old British student, Will Broadway, has invented a mobile fridge, the ‘Isobar’, designed to keep vaccines at the ideal temperature whilst in transit in developing countries. To top off young Will’s ethical credentials, he’s not seeking to patent it, in order to get it accessed by as many people as possible across the world. Read more…

10. Drinkable, Edible, Biodegradable…

Aimed at protecting marine life, this innovative plastic replacement material has been designed to naturally biodegrade away, meaning that should such packaging find its way into our seas, marine life forms stand a better chance of surviving it.

 

 

And the Winners Are…!

On the 23 November, six teams set foot inside the impressive walls of Somerset House, London, to take part in the final of our Creative Disruptors challenge 2016. Hosted by Makerversity in their educational ‘Fusion Lab’ and who are our programme partner makerspace for this challenge, each team brought with them their project prototype and a 5-minute presentation to pitch their idea of an appropriate technology for the theme ‘HOME’.

final-mv

The final six made it through a packed six-month challenge-curriculum which began back in April and saw school teams in the UK learn alongside their peers in Tanzania. What is unique about Creative Disruptors is that the same curriculum is given to schools in both countries enabling them to learn, make and share together: the three task foundations of the Creative Disruptors curriculum.

The challenge has been developed to help students explore creative learning and engage them in pathways linked to STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) as well as build their capabilities for empathy in user-centred design and international sustainability. Through the Creative Disruptors online learning platform the challenge also enables participants to explore the work of their peers in other parts of the world, undertaking the same problem-solving briefs, thereby, developing a greater sense of empathy and cross-cultural understanding.

Bright Green Enterprise runs the challenge in conjunction with its UK partner schools, whilst Twende Social Innovation Centre runs the challenge with its partner schools in Tanzania. Twende also functions as a makerspace workshop, offering participants the opportunity to develop their hard skills capabilities alongside teamwork and communication.

The UK final saw six teams present:

1st PRIZE!

EVIVO: developed a safety lock which works using a unique user pattern of magnetic strips worn on a wrist strap. Once held against the Evivo lock, the unique magnetic pattern code will unlock a device once both components are placed against each other. The idea for this unique lock transpired from research into people losing their keys or struggling to find them in the dark. The strap is designed to be subtle and worn under a watch or as a general accessory meaning that its low-key appearance does not appear to be an expensive item.

MV CHAMPIONS!

PRECISION: despite only joining the challenge as new school students in September, Precision developed a unique foldable desk, targeted at the university student market. The desk uses user-centred design to accommodate different functions (storage, workspace, display), yet folds up to maximise space within small university accommodation blocks. The idea came about through research conducted with current university students in halls of residence. The overall business model of this product (dreams of Ikea!) was also highly commended by the Makerversity judges.

RUNNER UP!

SEIZE: developed a backpack for homeless people inspired by the shape of a snail’s shell. The backpack functions as a storage pack but draws design inspiration from the shape of a spiral shell to pack different essential belongings. The team also presented a great short film advertisement of their research, modelling the user and their product and how its outside reflective design improves visibility for roadside safety. The team were highly commended by the judges for their research and production of an appropriate product.

HIGHLY COMMENDED

APEX: developed a ‘banish box’ targeted at families to encourage ‘down time’ from electronics use, including smart phones, iPads, laptops, etc. The box allows gadgets to charge but has a unique key code that can only be accessed by parental control. It also blocks noise from ring tones and alerts. The idea came about following the team’s research into excessive phone and Internet usage and how this affects sleep patterns as well as the more serious psychological effects of Internet over-use.

DIVERSITY: developed a wearable backpack for homeless people or outdoors explorers; the pack’s unique selling point is its user-centred design which works as a backpack opening up into a waterproof sleeping bag. The pack maintains the storage function of ordinary backpacks but utilises appropriate materials and design build to offer multi-functionality to its users.

DYNAMICS: developed a simple yet highly effective block photo frame which can hold several pictures at a variety of angles. Its magnetic backing also allows it to stick to different household surfaces at different angles. The idea for this came about through research into breakable materials within the home and the team wanted to develop an ordinary household product that was simple yet ‘homely’ in its usage.

All teams performed excellently and the decision to award prizes was extremely tough. A full report of Creative Disruptors 2016 will be available in the new year, along with information about the 2017 challenge.

If your school is interested in participating for 2017, please get in touch with Lucy to find out more.

Explore the gallery for more pictures of the day or visit our Creative Disruptors page to find out more about the challenge.

PRECISION DIVERSITY SEIZE SEIZE PRECISION DIVERSITY PRECISION PRECISION PRECISION EVIVO EVIVO EVIVO SEIZE EVIVO APEX DIVERSITY EVIVO SEIZE SEIZE APEX SEIZE APEX DIVERSITY EVIVO APEX DIVERSITY PRECISION APEX SEIZE APEX EVIVO DIVERSITY DIVERSITY EVIVO DIVERSITY DIVERSITY SEIZE PRECISION EVIVO DIVERSITY APEX SEIZE EVIVO APEX PRECISION PRECISION DYNAMICS DIVERSITY DIVERSITY
PRECISION

Researching Smallholder Farming Technology in Tanzania

In June earlier this year, Lucy, the Director of BGE went on a fact-finding mission back to Tanzania to research more about the design process and the incubation of ‘grassroots’ innovative technologies at the Twende Social Innovation Centre. Bright Green Enterprise has been working on various projects with Twende since 2013, helping to promote its work here in the UK as well as collaborating on skills-sharing challenges between schools in the UK and Tanzania. In that time Twende has been driven from strength to strength as a workshop and maker-space for local youth and adult innovators.

The grassroots appropriate technologies that Twende helps to design and incubate are established for the local market. Most have an agricultural focus due to the dominant industry that makes up around 80% of the workforce across the country and within this are many smallholder farming communities.

A typical example of such would be found in the Mbulu Highlands nestled alongside the famous Ngorongoro crater edge (a landmark of the Great Rift Valley), where many smallholder farmers from the Iraqw community reside. Their long-standing subsistence way of life has seen the Iraqw people live off the land for hundreds of years, farming with livestock and local tools that prepare and manage their crops; such as the traditional basket (luki) method shown in the main picture above where crops are managed by the women by hand.

The challenge, of course, is to get crops producing the most yield per acre in order to provide enough food for the family to live from as well as to try and produce enough surplus to sell at local markets for a cash income.

In recent years, however, land fragmentation and a degradation in soil fertility have led many farmers to seek new methods of preparing and harvesting their crops. This is sought for a number of benefits, including reducing the stresses of hard labour for women (whose role it is to prepare and manage the land), increasing crop yields to improve economic prosperity as well as improving the quality of produce. To meet these new social, economic and environmental demands, Twende is developing a number of technologies that can be deemed appropriate to meet local smallholder farmers’ needs; and one of these is Frank Mollel’s ‘manure spreader’.

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The first machine off the production line and fitted to an existing farmer’s cart!

proto-4-ms-3

Community cart (prototype 4)

 

OK, so manure may not be the most glamorous of topics to research innovation around but it is a vital component of the food chain due to its intrinsic value as an organic and sustainable fertiliser of crops. It’s also a growing part of agricultural practice for smallholder farmers across Tanzania.

The new machine was produced using Twende’s own design process method that takes a human-centred approach for researching and developing new technologies. By working with potential users in their own setting, not only can the human / user experience be uncovered but also the active environment (activity-centred design) in which the technology would be used (the activities surrounding the technology to which it will be a part). This way, the incoming innovation can provide benefit and change to improve people’s way of life (a so-called ‘disruption’ for social good) but can also work with existing community systems inside the ecological setting to lessen the disruption to surrounding networks.

The resulting efforts of this are in the manure spreader machine’s use as a community technology – co-built, shared and cost managed within the local community network so as to bring maximum benefit between households at an affordable price.

To find out more about Twende and Frank Mollel’s manure spreader, visit  www.twende-tanzania.org.

For more information about research and development projects across the globe, like the one that helped to form the concept of the manure spreader, visit the International Development Innovation Network (IDIN), www.idin.org

Workshop at Twende

Workshop at Twende where the manure spreader is manufactured.

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Claudio’s family farm – a typical household dwelling in the area.

 

poor yield maize  good-crop

Above is maize without using manure fertiliser (left) and with using manure fertiliser (right).

Creative Disruptors Makerversity

Creative Disruptors at Makerversity’s Fusion Lab!

On Friday 10th June thirty-eight Year 8 students from the Royal Grammar School in Guildford took part in the Creative Disruptors innovation challenge hosted at Makerversity Fusion Lab in Somerset House, London.

Creative Disruptors is our new six-month innovation challenge programme open to schools in the UK and Tanzania. As part of the Creative Disruptors learning process that encourages the development of empathy and creative capacity, students in the UK and Tanzania are partnered with makerspace workshops (Makerversity in London, UK, and Twende in Arusha, Tanzania), supporting them to develop their creative know-how.

The day at Makerversity was split into two sessions. The first  session took place in the Makerversity learning centre where students were challenged to create one-minute sand timers as well as a work bench, encouraging their teamwork and communication skills in a high energy, creative setting.

Creative Disruptors Makerversity

Creative Disruptors Sandtimer Makerversity

MV Fusion Lab

In the second session, students got the full board room experience, learning about the role of empathy within the design process and interviewing their fellow students to redesign a school bag.  The day was jam packed with activity and excitement, not to mention a high-speed drive-by from the Royal Family!

Lucy Bright Green Enterprise at Makerversity

(Lucy from Bright Green Enterprise speaking to students about empathy in the design process)

Throughout the day students utilised the skills that they have been learning through the weekly Creative Disruptors challenges; how to work effectively as a team, how to listen to each other, how to manage themselves and their time effectively, how to work to deadlines with no guidance… to name but a few. The boys did extremely well, some finding the new skills easier to implement than others but an ongoing and very worthwhile process. The students left exhausted but inspired and full of innovative and interesting ideas that they will use when designing their own innovative, unique appropriate technologies ahead of the Creative Disruptors final at Makerversity later in the year…so watch this space.

One of the best quotes we received from a student during the day was in response to a task on empathy and the difference between sympathy and empathy. Using the current refugee crisis as a case study, Lucy asked the students “what would be a sympathetic reaction to this crisis and what would be an empathetic one?”. In response, one 13-year-old boy replied “sympathy would be putting money in a fundraising bucket. Empathy would be what that money goes on to do”. All the teachers and mentors were incredibly impressed by the students’ maturity to the topic and look forward to seeing how this progresses in their designing going forward.

Empathy Creative Disruptors

(Empathy is about seeing things from another’s perspective and responding in a fair way).

Makerversity Fusion Lab is a thriving makerspace for start-up creative industries in the heart of London at Somerset House. Taking over the whole of the basement level, Makerversity holds an impressive array of innovative businesses, from high-tech virtual reality stars, to textile designers and 3-D printing creators. Find out more about them at www.makerversity.org

Knowing and Unknowing

It’s a fantastic opportunity to be back here in Tanzania. It’s now my sixth year working and visiting the country since living out here between 2010-2011. Along the way, I like to think I’ve built up a good understanding of local cultures, ways of working, contacts and networks which have all helped me to develop Bright Green Enterprise; whether it’s getting things done more efficiently, quicker, at lower cost (avoiding ‘tourist prices’!) or exploring new ways and perspectives of doing things.

But it’s taken six years to get to this stage. The knowledge that I’ve built up about the environment I work within (both in the UK and Tanzania) has been an incremental process – it didn’t just ‘happen’. It’s taken time (lots of it), money (lots of it), perseverance (lots of it), patience (definitely lots of it) and a whole lotta love. And over the course of this time I’ve given some of this knowledge to others and gained in return some of their knowledge.

On the first day of my trip, whilst I was waiting for a meeting in Arusha, I overheard a conversation on the table next to me between two people (an English woman and a Tanzanian man). The English woman was organising a school trip for a well-known, expensive private school to go to the Tanzanian coast for a week of camping. The Tanzanian man, an owner of some type of safari / tourist company, was there to iron out the final details and costs of the trip, including food. The discussion was an awkward one to overhear. The English woman, clearly trying to get the best price possible, was arguing quite loudly (in English) about the cost of each item she brought up that she wanted bespoke for the trip: “we need some bottles of water but I want the water bought in large containers and transferred into smaller containers each day”, safari man replies: “no problem, we can do that for 1,500 TSH (approx 40p) per head”. “What!? No way. You shouldn’t be charging for this. You’re just trying to make profit – all the time!”. The conversation went on like this for some time, the woman adding on bespoke requests for the trip (wanting free visits to certain beaches and parks), whilst the safari manager added on his costs of arranging said requests, much to her outrage.

This isn’t of course a very exciting story to tell but it did get me thinking and reminded me of just how precious knowledge can be. Especially when entering a new environment knowledge is a powerful tool, just like the ability to communicate in another language, it can often be the difference between getting something you want and not getting it. And in some cases, avoiding a worst case scenario situation. In the case above, wanting to organise a trip for a group of children to a remote area you know nothing about, inevitably requires the services of another if you’re to do it safely and enjoyably. Knowing that a shop can sell a bottle of water is very different to knowing where a shop that sells water is located and how to communicate in Swahili to get that water, in the quantity you need. Invariably, specialist knowledge like this can have a cost attached; much like the fees charged by her school.

However, knowledge for all its usefullness is often pitted against information. At school we are tasked with remembering lots and lots of information in a relatively short space of time and then being tested on it. Added to this, we must all learn the same thing, in much the same way, for the same period of time. The idea is that we then come out of school with the same information and are graded (scored) on how well we have remembered that information. With so much information transfer it’s often not surprising that there’s little time to develop our own knowledge into how things work. In short during our childhood years, we build up a lot of “know what” rather than “know how” with the expectation that life will select us based on the former. Which, if you’ve paid attention to the moral of this post, is not likely and has meant that each generation undertaking this style of education is lacking the space and nourishment to develop their own unique brand of knowledge.

Education Knowledge

At Twende, the social innovation centre I’m working with over the next week, they take a different approach to learning. Learning is very much centred around the accumulation of knowledge rather than information. What I admire greatly about Twende is that it recognises the value and expertise of local knowledge in developing pathways for sustainable and useful innovation. It offers space for people, of all ages, no matter their academic backgrounds, the opportunity to develop and transfer their knowledge into technologies for social good.

Of course there’s benefits for Twende as well – the centre has built up a (well deserved) reputation as a local space for grassroots innovation through its various technologies it helps to bring to market; from the bicycle powered maize sheller, to the water irrigation kit, the multi-crop thresher and the manure spreader. All of these technologies have required the sharing of knowledge about users, culture, ecosystems, materials, supply networks and more. None are the product of just one person, rather a network of humans and non-humans that have come together to shape the technology. The more I get to know Twende, the more I get a feel of its ethos towards innovation and local participation. It places knowledge at the centre of its operations, recognising it as a crucial and valuable tool in shaping new pathways for sustainable innovation.

I’m very excited to explore their technologies in more depth over the next few months and will keep Bright Green readers posted on the progress and stories as they evolve. For now, I’ll leave you with this gem of a tale doing the rounds in engineering circles!

– Lucy

A ship engine failed, no one could fix it so they brought in a man with 40 years on the job in the hope he could help. He inspected the engine carefully, top to bottom. After looking things over, the guy reached into his bag and pulled out a small hammer. He gently tapped something. Instantly, the engine lurched into life. The engine was fixed! 7 Days later the owners got his bill for £10,000. “What?!” the owners said “You hardly did anything. Send us an itemized bill”. The itemized bill arrived and simply read: “Tapping with a hammer $2.00. Knowing where to tap? $9,998”.

Don’t Ever Underestimate Experience.

 

 

Exploring Appropriate Technology at the Twende Social Innovation Centre

Next week, Lucy Devall, the Head of Bright Green Enterprise, will be travelling back to Tanzania to conduct a study at the Twende Social Innovation Centre in Arusha into their research and development of appropriate technologies.

Twende is a unique and thriving maker space environment situated within the city of Arusha. Founded by Bernard Kiwia, a local innovator and entrepreneur, Twende focuses on researching and developing socially appropriate technologies that can support more sustainable livelihoods.

Its space offers community groups – from school students, university students, women’s groups, NGOs and individuals interested in developing their creative capacity for innovation, the chance to learn more about the process of developing technologies.

The centre is a thriving, collaborative and exciting environment of machinery, people and technologies that serve to develop not just skills for creative capacity but also the technologies themselves. Each technology goes through a rigorous process of design with specific community groups in order to produce the most appropriate and workable end product.

What is Appropriate Technology? 

The concept of appropriate technology started to come into focus as a tool for organised development back in the 1970s. Focusing on the design, technology and function of products that could be considered more appropriate for specific user groups (and their environments), appropriate technologies are often considered locally specific and evolving from a “grassroots” (localised) initiative. Because of this, they are becoming more popular with organisations seeking to support the development of sustainable livelihoods; particularly within environments such as Tanzania, where high rates of poverty and top-down fast growth policies can be frequently observed.

Twende Maize Sheller

(Above: Twende’s ‘Bicycle Powered Maize Sheller’)

The Research Study

Lucy’s study will focus on the process of research and development of particular technologies at the Centre and how social values have been included into the design process. The benefit of researching such techniques, it is hoped, will be useful for policy initiatives that seek more localised pathways to development; particularly those which support more sustainable livelihoods.

To find out more about Twende’s work (www.twende-tanzania.org), take a look at their website, or if you’re in the area, swing by the Centre and explore for yourself!

For more information about this research, please feel free to get in touch.

 

 

March Update: Global Citizenship & Enterprise KS3

This month we’ve been working in London delivering  our Green Dragons KS3 Enterprise and Global Learning Challenge to hundreds of Year 7 and 8 pupils across London. And what a fantastic time we have had! 

We also welcomed into our team two new mentors: Zenzo, originally from Zimbabwe and now researching Innovation and Sustainability for International Development at the Science Policy Research Unit (SPRU) in Sussex, Brighton. And Ilga, originally from the Ukraine and also a graduate of SPRU, now working in events management in the UK.

Green Dragons offers links across the curriculum to Science, Geography, Design and Technology, Citizenship, Art and Business Studies as well as supporting SMSC and PSHE.  Each problem-solving ‘mission’ within the challenge is designed for students to lead their own learning and produce professional “pitches” to demonstrate this.

Among the winning ideas from Year 7 were innovations for water sanitation (Goal 6) using shoes, a toy powered by kinetic energy (Goal 7) that warms up as its played with – a modern take on the ‘hot water bottle’ and even an education game that teaches young children about the topic and importance of sustainability!

Sustainable Development Goals

But above all, the students were enthusiastic and positive in their feedback, recognizing the key employment skills they had practiced throughout the day, their strengths within these and where they needed to improve. As part of our monitoring and evaluation process we collate feedback from all participants (that can be hundreds per event!) and create easy to access data on employment skills and learning.

It’s now the spring holidays here in the UK and we’ll be working on the finishing touches to our Creative Disruptors challenge ahead of the May launch. For up-to-date information on what’s happening, who with and how, check out our Global Education Initiatives site!

 

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