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Now What? Social Innovation Proposal

How’s it? I’ve just posted my business proposal for Now What?. Now What? is the Social Innovation I’ve developed from this whole experience.Now What? is an internet based portal to link recent school leavers, with community organisations in need of volunteers.
Now What? is aimed at the young adult market of 18-26yrs. It will cater directly to people within this age group who are looking to gain valuable life experience from volunteering within Australia.

The proposal can be found here….

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*This Wednesday!* Swanston St Bike Memorial

Is Showing Telling? IP for Product Designers

This coming Wednesday Design Victoria is putting on a forum which will explore the intellectual property issues that face furniture and product designers, while establishing and protecting creative ideas.

It’d be an interesting night to check I rekon, I can’t unfortunately, Wednesday night is trivia night. But if your keen here’s the details:

Wednesday 8 October 2008

6pm-9pm

Melbourne Museum, Nicholson st, Carlton

Business Proposal

Tomorrow is our first class with RMIT business professor Peter Sheldrake. He is going to help us craft our social innovation concepts, into a real world business proposal. Something we could go to the bank with, literally! We had a brief run through last week, of where everyone’s ideas are at so far, and there’s some interesting ones in there.

My concept for a social innovation has been crafted into the following:

‘Now What?’ will be an internet based portal for recent school leavers. My inspiration comes from the existing Lattitude program (formally GAP) that offers school leavers the opportunity of volunteering overseas in various areas from caring, teaching, and environmental work. I went to Poland with GAP and taught English there in Warsaw. This was an amazing experience, especially being fresh out of school. I think I gained a lot from the experience, and personally was a much better choice then diving straight into uni.

‘Now What?’ will however target school leavers, who are looking to do something within Australia. They’ll probably have aspirations of further education, but have had enough for now, and want a year off to experience something else. ‘Now What?’ will be an agent between interested young people and community groups, NGO’s, conservation groups, who are interested in keen, engaged volunteers. ‘Now What?’ will work to establish a network of organisations that have at their core, an ethos of improving and assisting the community and area around them. This could be organisations such as Meals on Wheels, Green Corps, The Flying Doctors Service to name a few. It could also be roles such as assisting in research trips, conservation efforts and such. Applicants could either try out a field that they are interested in pursuing as an educational direction, or try something completely different to what they think they could end up doing.This opportunity would give them amazing life experience as well as a possibly valuable, relevant experience into their chosen field of further education.

The applicant could elect to either work within their own community, or apply to work somewhere else within Australia. This would be ‘Now What?’s main role, and allow young people the opportunity to travel Australia and gain a better understanding of the different environments that make up this massive country.

The money side of things I still need to develop, I don’t think a membership fee is viable, but possibly an introduction fee of some sort, or sponsorship from groups, schools, government?

Reflection on the Whole Deal…

Going through the experience of the 160km diet raised a few things for me. Firstly it has really shown me how little I know about my food origins. It has shown me how our eating habits have become so detached from the actual seasons. I have also discovered though a wealth of food that is grown and produced locally around Melbourne.

Starting out a month ago, I was pessimistic as to what I would actually be able to eat, and found myself falling an almost survival mode in the intial stages. I remember going to the supermarket and scouring the whole place for something, anything I could eat. The only locally edible source I found was yoghurt. I remember having visions of myself withering away. However once I did a bit of research and began asking around, I slowly began to create a web of food sources. What I enjoyed about this experience was finding out the stories behind the food. The market holders at Vic Markets especially I found were really open about where their produce came from, and seemed to enjoy talking about it. By going through this, it brings another social level to the interactions you have around food.

On the social side of food however, I found the diet had an isolating effect as well. Within my sharehouse, we cook together, generally sharing dinner each night. Before this experience I tended to do the majority of the cooking for shared meals. Once I began this month long exercise, I cut my self off from the rest of the household, food wise. This was because of the uncertainty of what I’d actually be able to eat, and prepare as meals. All being on tight budgets, we decided it would be simplier for me to do my own thing food wise for the month. I’d considered trying to rejoin the house’s food web, once I’d established a few local sources, but this never eventuated. So what eventuated was a fracturing of the meals within the house. I would create my own meals, but I noticed for the first couple of weeks that the others didn’t seem to be doing much in the way of communal cooking. I’m not sure if this perception was because I was no longer part of it all. Our house is generally pretty socialble, but it felt a bit more isolated with the lack of common eating. On an interesting aside however, now the house is more cohesive, and the cooking role is being shared around.

Another social element to the whole experience was that most people I mentioned it to were intrigued by it, and that led to many discussions about what the reasoning  was behind it and so on.

The menu for this month ended up being quite familiar, some might say repeatitive. Many of my staple foods were off limits, and even many of the vegetables, that would normally be on the plate, weren’t in season. So it has to be said, a lot of potatoes were sacrificed over the course of the last month. It highlighted though, how we have managed to artificially distort our food systems, so that either a crop lasts a lot longer then it would naturally, or else is shipped in via an intricate transport network that we have built up. It makes issues such as the drought, water management, agricultural practices more real, and highlights the systems that our cities rely on for their survival.

However its not all gloom, within Melbourne there is a quite a variety of locally grown and produced foodstuff. However because of the the marketing of it, it tends to come at a premium. While the food at the markets is cheaper then what you would pay at the supermarket, if you want to have a broad diet, you have to pay for it, if you want it to be local. This creates a perception that this sort of preoccupation with eating locally, is only for inner city yuppy types. Its an interesting how things have shifted so. My parents have told me stories of having the chooks in the backyard, and how they’re dad would kill them for dinner for special occasions. We seem to be a cycle of of old traditions interpreted with a new angle. On the cost of eating locally, this can be overcome, but it comes at the cost of time, and how we wish to use it. I’ve been meaning to start a vegie garden ever since moving in, and this whole experience has spurred me onto actually getting it underway properly. One major aspect of the diet I found trying was having to plan every meal, which took out the spontineaity of cooking a bit. Also the preparation that had to be done to make even a snack (that wasn’t fruit) I found fustrating at times.

Overall however I enjoyed the experience, and gained a lot from it I believe. It is something I wouldn’t want to abide by religiously, but elements of it all will definitely stick with me. The whole blogging experience has been a new thing too, so hopefully a few people have found it, had a read and got something out of it.

Now time to move to the next hurdle, what will be my Social Innovation? Any ideas?

Day 5

30/7 Wednesday: Today I managed to get up early for once and so had time to fix a bit of breakfast before I headed out. On the bill was the yoghurt and peaches. I used some of the peach juice with some mint, to create a sort of tea, turned out pretty well.

On the way home after uni, I decided to suss out a butchers I’d passed alot along Bridge Rd. Right near my work, there’s a butchers that has a yellow shop front, and a flashing light in the window. When I stopped by I found out it was a poultry wholesaler, and that they sourced the chickens locally. So 500g of chicken thigh fillets for me!

So on the menu for dinner tonight was fried chicken bits with stir fry vegies and egg. It was really tasty, and the veggies crunchy. The chicken seemed a lot more flavoursome then the usual supermarket stuff we get. Things are on the up!