What if a community had the time, space, tools, relationships and resources to play?
What would they create?
The Playground is a new kind of innovation space where a whole community is invited to come and play. It is a way to come together to solve the complex problems of our time in new and unconventional ways.
We have a 5 acre site on Guernsey filled with greenhouses in various states of repair. They are the remnants of an old tomato growing industry that has long since collapsed.
The project began in 2014 and has been through several iterations together with lots of failure, learning and breakthrough. Doing regeneration at large scale without much in the way of financial resources whilst avoiding central top-down organising is a hard problem to solve.
Despite all of these challenges, there are now a number of organisations that collaborate together to regenerate the site. The umbrella brand for this project is now called - The Playground. It holds a vision for a new type of community lab that can be based on dilapidating land in small island states that can be used to drive social and economic innovation to solve local challenges like reducing cost of living, adapting to climate change and the ageing population.
The objective was to create a new model of regeneration that involves the spare time, generosity and creative capacity of the entire community.
Think of it as a place for Google 20% time without needing to work for Google.
Or as a place where we can say yes more in a world where it can take a lot of effort to get to no.
A place where the focus is on building strong relationships and gently dismantling bureaucracy wherever it occurs.
A place where people are inspired to solve problems and for them to access the tools to solve them.
Long Term Components Required for The Playground
There are a series of well-established component parts that can come together to create a strong ecosystem for social and economic innovation. The co-location of diverse individuals and community groups with the space, tools, expertise and opportunities to solve local challenges will empower the community to create social and economic value in new and interesting ways. The more diverse the community groups present, the more interconnectedness that is fostered and the more likely interesting and positive outcomes will occur.
These are the components that we are looking to build within our labs over time:
Art at the Core - These labs are all about inspiring communities to create a more beautiful world that we do not yet know. To do that wonder and beauty needs to be at the core of these spaces.
Flexible Land and Space to Prototype New Ideas - Low cost and low-risk space to get started and prove things work.
Co-Working Space and Community Cafe - A place for people to gather and build relationships. We know that providing space where diverse groups of people can connect and work together innovation happens. It is particularly important to have a place for digital communities like coders and online creatives to interconnect.
Maker Space and Men’s Shed - A low-cost place social and economic space where people can design and build anything physical. Giving people open access to tools like 3D printers and laser cutters significantly reduces the costs of prototyping ideas.
DIY Biohackerspace and Lab - A place where people can access all of the innovation available in biotech in a low-cost way. Again low-cost access to be able to prototype and test is the key to unlocking innovation.
Community Kitchen and Culinary Incubator - A low-cost place for people to cook together and for food startups to be able to prototype and add value in a low-cost way. The key to being able to compete with global food supply chains is to be able to support small producers with the tools they need to create high-value products in clean environments without large costs in doing so.
Education, Events & Training Room - A place for community members to learn the skills they need to solve the challenges that inspire them.
Childcare Facility - The more diverse the community members that can access and use the site the more challenges that can be solved. Having on-site childcare opens up the site to parents that would otherwise struggle to contribute towards local problem-solving.
Wellbeing & Lifestyle Medicine Centre - What lies at the heart of changing the world is the mass scaling of individual transformations. The relationship between individual wellness and the wellness of our planet is key. A centre that prescribes community and lifestyle provides the why for people to participate more deeply.
Access to Low-Cost Accommodation - Empowering people from around the world to visit and exchange ideas.
Current Playmates and Partner Organisations.
Innovating within the financial and planning constraints of our current location, we have the following organisations involved so far.
States of Guernsey Community Service Scheme
States of Guernsey Mental Health Services Social Prescribing
Graduates of The Playground
There have been some successes so far that have since left the site to regenerate other greenhouses on the island.
Juggling King Rum Company (Successfully prototyped growing sugar cane under glass)
Soil.gg (Successfully prototyped innovative soil making techniques)
The Playground is Currently Located At:
Sandpiper Vinery, Rue des Heches, St Peters, Guernsey, GY8 0DS
Or alternatively our What3Words is ///starlight.remedies.wakes