What do you get when you take someone who is obsessed with traditional processes and idea-making and thrust them into an innovative social lab experience? As it turns out, letting yourself go and trusting others to lead you through a new experience can allow you to connect to the issue – and yourself – in ways you had not expected.
The night before we started, I spent several hours reading through the recommended reading we were set, trying to get as much research done as possible on circular economy so that I could show up brimming with ideas, concrete suggestions and case studies. I was surprised when we spent our first morning discussing what linked us all together and what drew our hearts and minds to this Lab. After running through a crash course in the three areas of focus for the Lab, we concluded our first day with dragon dreaming, a tool used by the indigenous peoples of Australia, to express our common vision and goals for this Lab. I realised there that this Lab would be quite a different experience than what I had originally anticipated.
Throughout the three months, I gave myself over to the spirit of the Lab, wilfully launching myself into every new exercise without knowing fully how it would help us with our ultimate goal of devising circular economy solutions for the Vaud region. In fact, looking back, it was this emotional connection to nature and to each other that made this Lab so successful: and is the key ingredient that is missing from so many other incubators looking to broach the same issues. It is this very disconnect from the heart, the mind, and community, that has led us into the linear economic model – towards the ego and away from the eco.
Therefore, if I could go back and tell myself one thing before I started, or to any others who are looking to get involved in Social Labs with the Impact Hub or others: the unconventional techniques may be exactly what you need to get out of the headspace of stale and tried ideas and into a different sphere of creativity and connection. You just might surprise yourself!
Author: Alexis McGivern
Alexis is a passionate conservationist, currently working as a Programme Manager for Swiss-based Gallifrey Foundation and seconded to IUCN’s Global Marine and Polar Programme. She is interested in matters of sustainable consumption and the intersection of business and conservation.