Recently the Leapfrog team took a trip to the beautiful Isle of Mull, part of the group of island that makes up the Inner Hebrides off the west cost of Scotland, to kick start another of our major projects, Peer-to-Peer Engagement. After a grey and choppy ferry ride from the mainland port of Oban to the port at Craignure on the island we settled down to exploring the place that is home for so many great community led initiatives, and got down to the business of co-design with our community partners.
On a much brighter morning than the previous day and in the HQ for the Mull and Iona Community Trust, the An Roth Community Enterprise Centre, we set to work diving into the key issues with engaging with hard to reach members of a community, and brainstorming some great new engagement tool ideas. Over two days, lots of coffee and some provoking conversations we explored the key issues driving the need for really good community engagement, the main groups of people our partners find it most difficult to engage with, and perceive as most valuable to reach. We also explored some of the barriers they have all faced in the past and opportunities to improve community engagement moving forwards. With these issues in mind and with some great work and enthusiasm we spent the last of our time together developing ideas for tools that could support innovative future community engagements. Ideas that the Glasgow School of Art team will now take away and develop into prototypes before returning back to The Isle of Mull to take our tools to the next step by testing them with community members, including those who are hard to engage with. Some of the main themes that came out of the 2 days were: connecting with young people from the islands in conversations about opportunities and island futures; engaging with ‘local natives’, those people who have been lifetime residents on the islands but can be hard to reach; and finding ways to engage people through activities and events.
The opportunities and ideas we explored as part of this initial stage of the project were as varied and interesting as the project partners who joined us in the workshops and made them so valuable. In the room (and one happenchance meeting in the pub) were representatives from projects that engage with affordable housing on the island, social and economic development, community broadband, the islands bio diversity, wildlife, arts, green transport and the Mull & Iona Community Trust. The range and depth of initiatives we were able to partner with gave us a great ground from which we can start to develop our tools. Tools we hope can support these organisations and great project like them in the future.