In Autumn 2016 national charity IVAR (Institute for Voluntary Action Research) approached Dudley CVS, Healthwatch Dudley and Dudley CCG with an opportunity to host an event as part of a learning and sharing roadshow they were creating. IVAR has worked in Dudley before, on a programme called Building Health Partnerships, which helped local organisations to work together to improve local health and wellbeing. (It was from this that our PSIAMS work was grown.)
It was agreed that an interesting aspect of local activity to highlight was the participation of local people in practical projects which they co-designed and developed together in the places they live, which have positive effects on their health and wellbeing. It occurred to us that talking about practical projects for an afternoon wasn’t quite like being able to get involved yourself, and from this the idea for Do Fest Dudley grew.
The newly formed CoLab Dudley team took on the task of curating a 3 day festival of doing with practically no budget, reaching out to their networks and local people to develop a jam-packed programme of doing, learning, sharing and talks. Healthwatch Dudley instigated and hosted two productive Do Fest Create sessions in advance of Do Fest. Local people got involved and made bunting, windmills and decorated boxes for seed bombs.
Do Fest Dudley opened on 13 March with an introduction to Wikihouse affordable self-building from DemoDev. Soon 22 eager doers embarked on the building of a WendyWikiHouse – a scaled down WikiHouse designed to fit in the coffee shop at gather.
214 people from all over Dudley, and also Wolverhampton, Birmimgham and London took part in Do Fest over 3 days. There were 7 Trade School classes, 6 Learning Labs, 10 Lightning Talks, a crafternoon and a Dudley SOUP micro-granting dinner. On the afternoon of 15 March IVAR welcomed 57 doers and encouragers from Dudley and beyond to the Do Fest Summit. The keynote speaker was Pam Warhurst from Incredible Edible, who inspired people to get growing and sharing. Wildflower seed bombs were deployed that very afternoon!
Co-created by a total of 72 individuals, Do Fest Dudley provided a taste of what’s possible, insights into ways we can nurture a participatory culture in Dudley, and opportunities to make, share and learn with local people who are leading change through practical, enjoyable projects in the places they live.
IVAR blog post about Do Fest: https://www.ivar.org.uk/the-power-of-small-actions-in-grassroots-regeneration/