Third Space Theory explains the uniqueness of each person, actor or context as a “hybrid” Bhabha, Homi K. (2004). The Location of Culture. Abingdon: Routledge. p. 55. Foucault uses the term "heterotopia" to describe spaces that have more layers of meaning or relationships to other places than immediately meet the eye. In general, a heterotopia is a physical representation or approximation of a utopia, or a parallel space...the term describes certain cultural, institutional and discursive spaces that are somehow ‘other’: disturbing, intense, incompatible, contradictory or transforming. Heterotopias are worlds within worlds, mirroring and yet upsetting what is outside.
The perfect paradigm for unprecedented transformational change and social innovation...
We live in a hyper-connected world, with an ultra-fragmented society, fixed narratives and identities. Why are we trying to solve exponentially complex problems with antiquated tools, tired, rigid structures, and an unsustainable, hyper-consuming and end-result based mindset; while forgetting all the invaluable, unseen in-between spaces? They’re the ones filled with infinite possibility for innovation, critical to our collective future. Hackathons, co-working and maker spaces, living, change and fab labs alike have only begun to scratch the surface of this 'complex three-dimensional problem space'. It is time to approach problem solving systemically, dynamically, and organically by combining previous structures to build a new one with distributed, regenerative intelligence. The Third Space Lab is the first hybrid construct attempting to allow just that; a deeper, borderless dive exploration in this transitional and virgin, opportunity space.
What The Third Space Lab does/The Solution
Why: The Third Space's purpose is to reshape 'context' and the values that rely on it, to serve local communities as both a catalyst and a compass, providing a flexible network structure with tools and on-going support for capacity building facilitation and intelligence sharing (problem co-mapping, data/insight capture on what matters most to the community, horizontally, vertically, bottom-up, and top-down) for 'meta' social innovation, deep impact, and lasting transformative change. What: A dynamic, open, and modular three-dimensional space -at once conceptual, physical and digital. For Who: For civil society, public and private cross-sector and trans-generational/cultural/geographical stakeholders to safely come together and move freely 'in-between' their previously assigned spaces in society, to unearth and leverage hidden social capital, pool ideas and resources, tear down boundaries and vulnerable systemic silos of the past that no longer serve humanity. How: By asking the right questions, heat-mapping, sense-making, experimenting, creating, funding and deploying hypotheses for rapid practical application enhancing community cohesion, inclusion and reinforcing the authentic meaning of 'neighborhood'; iteratively testing developed interventions glocally to tackle increasingly complex systems problems and help re-architect an adaptive, regenerative and equitable world; where no-one is left unseen. Where: Through a multi-level, integrative-platform with a transdisciplinary stakeholder community, digital and analogue freemium tools and resources (already widely avail open source materials including case studies, tips, videos, design thinking guides and much more from systemsinnovation.io, www.nesta.org.uk among others, reused, remade, or new bespoke materials and user-created, crowdsourced content). Participants will be encouraged to build on content from the ‘Platform's Intelligence Library’ and re-upload refreshed content to share with community. Reference business model for content monetization: thenounproject.com fused with in-residence innovator consulting fee revenue, along with CSR and government funding of initiatives produced in the context of the program. The program will include immersive, hands-on practical learning with participatory discovery, problem definition, and mapping bootcamps, and participatory workshop series designed around the Sustainable Development Goals. The goal is to output novel 'built to scale' circular economy, growth model ptototypes, and quick to deploypeople-centric mechanisms. The platform and programming are intended for insertion/inclubation in existing third space networks to lower go-to market and scaling costs while increasing audience/community reach.
What was done during the weekend
Project idea refining, reseach and development.
The solution’s impact to the crisis
There is a common misconception that we don't have enough time or resources. This is simply not true it is a matter of mis-allocation resulting in both simultaneous over-lapping and massive 'gaps' within the system! I see these gaps as spaces for disruption simply by facilitating new and previously un-fathomable or un-doable connections. Why not? Besides, a crisis is not a management and solution problem. It's a mindset and systems failure problem to adapt quickly and efficiently to a new condition or need (such as shielding society and the economy from a viral global epidemic like COVID-19). A lack of agility and diversity makes for fragility. To fix this we must focus on creating the conditions for a global mindset shift toward risk taking, experimenting, and asking questions in-real time, rather than simply seeking answers and solutions by using old, time and resource consuming, methods. To tackle this, and other 'wicked problems' to come our way, we must first design a more flexible and conducive to innovation problem-solving framework.
A first pilot workshop series developed and tested in a selected community with private and public sector partners around the SDGs for Health, Wellbeing, and the Economy...
When will systematically collect, process and map data before, during and after (combining human-centric participatory methodologies with integrated quantitative and qualitative research, platform analytics, online surveys and in-depth interviews with stakeholders,) Intervention progress/sustainability (followup with community reps 6 months after completion to measure socio-economic impact and/or other potential collective exponential results, such as community engagement/growth affect on local economy, life path choices and decision making of participants to evaluate effect on decision shaping. Findings will be analyzed for platform/product development and disseminated through social impact reports on own and partner channels. Furthermore, we plan to approach organizations such as the National Center for Social Research in Greece for statistical support in systemic recording of data.
The necessities in order to continue the project
Final MVP, Business Plan/Model, graphic design and editing/production help for content design, website, video presentations/funding pitches, Backend/Front End Dev, UX/UI for demo of platform. Fundraising to run a first pilot 6 wk workshop series/50hr including a public presentation of prototypes for proof of concept, impact assesment in a sample tester community. Team: 2-5 workshop facilitators, project management and promotion (3 month min engagment),100mentors.com digital learning platfrom partenrship/whitelabel licensing, scholarships for 16-40 program participants (representing all target groups), particpatory design bootcamp suppliess, and initial soft-launch marketing costs. Estimated Budget: 7920 - 19800 euro.
How might we transform libraries into a pan-European ‘Third Space Lab’ ecosystem that ‘inhabits’ industry and societal gaps, unleashing opportunity, boosting cohesion and community capacity by bringing youth, marginalized groups, and civil society together with academia, market leaders, and policy makers to co-create, expedite, and funnel best-of-breed SDG based, circular economy ‘neighborhood initiatives’ into funding and rapid prototyping for global adaptation; with minimal resources and maximal exponential impact. Redirecting CSR corporate funds to projects relevant to brand DNA and R&D will provide equal opportunity though scholarship for vulnerable groups and provide additional project seed funding.
The Third Space lab seeks to equalize capacity and access across the board in society, provide foresight, connecting and thus crisis proofing civil society, the public and private sectors by allowing them to work together to anticipate and quickly respond to change.
How I built it
Haven't yet. It is a big undertaking so rather slow...currently in progress of solidifying idea. True to form and the very values of the project, I am shifting focus and thinking on process and structuring the 'HMW' on both a micro and macro level rather than developing solutions at this stage. The Third Space is a vehicle for solution not a solution in itself and organic/responsive in nature so its form will reveal itself in action. This hackathon is the 3rd baby step in its maturity and hopefully a breakthrough one. This is an evolving concept I have been reflecting on and approaching from different angles both professionally and personally for over two decades until I felt it matured enough inside me to undertake it and bring it to life.
Challenges I ran into
Figuring out from where to tackle the endeavor/where to start... (how to break down the initiative, what the MVP should be and who the first partners/stakeholders should be for pilot (testing and proof of concept) to take to market
Accomplishments that I'm proud of
Effectively driving change by applying participatory human-centered methodologies and practices in a large-scale public-private sector collaboration for the rebranding, repositioning, and relaunching of a third-place institution. First of-its-kind and only such project to date in a Southern European country. Daring to participate in my first Hackathon (and what a historic one at that), submitting the idea even at such an early stage without a team, last minute and with no demo :)
Pitching the Third Space concept to third space institutions, local NGOs, education organizations and government officials with a positive first response for pilot program integration and strategic partnership.
What I learned
Change is either terrifyingly abrupt or an infuriating and painstakingly slow process, depends on the approach. And I definitely need a team, now to move forward!