Monday, September 24, 2012

Detroit Pre-Trip Report

This summer we started talking about forming a group for innovators, and decided to begin the initiative with a hands-on project in Detroit. We knew that things would grow and change, and that we'd need to be agile and flexible (two qualities important to fostering innovation). Members of the Media Lab team have made a few trips to Detroit, and a group of Detroiters came here to the Lab to see what we're about on our home turf.

This event has changed from what we'd originally envisioned, and we're glad of that—we think that now it more accurately reflects the kind of work already being done in Detroit, as well as plays to the strengths of the Lab and our member company and event co-producer IDEO.

Detroit

This work builds upon Knight Foundation's already existing commitment to foster information sharing and engagement in Detroit communities. Together, the Media Lab, IDEO, and Knight are excited to work on a series of design challenges with a mix of the Lab’s own special alchemical blend of uniqueness, impact, and magic.

So what's next? We're heading back to Detroit October 5-8 for our first meeting, and to get things started we brainstormed with and listened to our new Detroit friends to come up with a few starting-off points that fit with the needs and concerns in their communities. We framed some challenges that will, we hope, empower all of us and create community.

CHALLENGES

  • DIY Lighting: Solutions that help citizens create outdoor lighting
  • Digital Community: Online infrastructure for connecting—offline and in-person
  • Air Monitoring: Citizen-powered systems for monitoring and reporting air quality
  • DIY Soil Safety: Creating ways for ordinary citizens to better understand their soil
  • Compost Rotation: Developing solutions for scalable urban agriculture

We'll have one team per challenge, with each team made up of Detroiters + Media Labbers + IDEO designers + expert friends + industry innovators. We envision the challenges as jumping-off points for the teams. Some might end up with a totally different result than the challenge, but the important thing is to look, listen, and learn from our surroundings and collaborators.

We'll all be blogging, tweeting, and posting while we're in Detroit and after we get home, so that others can see what we're working on, meet our Detroit collaborators, and join the conversation. Our hashtag will be #IGDetroit.

We’ll check back in again with a blog post before we head to Detroit, to share more details about some of the team members.

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