Day 6 snuck up on us so quickly! And if you're familiar with our fellowships you know that Day 6 means one thing... the Design Challenge begins! For our 24-Hour Challenge, fellows team up and work together, apply all that they have learned and uncovered during the week, to address a client's design brief.

24 hour design challenge kick off

We kicked it off at our challenge home base, BizDojo, an excellent brand new co-working space in downtown Christchurch. We arrived to the beautifully bright and clear space early, allocated work rooms for teams and then gave fellows the challenge brief, which they digested over a nutritious homemade breakfast.

challenge breifing session

Fellows were excited by the challenge brief, developed in collaboration with Christchurch City Council (CCC). The brief outlined a problem statement, location context, considerations, parameters and supporting information that the fellows could work with while applying the Disruptive Design Method to explore how to develop creative change interventions. 

The CCC challenge outlines a quest to create a circular economy vision for Spreydon in Christchurch, a community suburb. Their goal is to achieve a circular economy by 2050, which would, in turn, allow for a rapid transition to a “one planet” city. Currently, Christchurch is a minus five planet city, and thanks to the great work of the CCC, there is a strong desire to find unique ways of becoming a planet positive place!

Each team was given an opportunity to ask questions to guest speakers – Phil Clearwater, CCC Councillor,  and David Boothway, CCC Strategic Asset Planning Manager – to mine out as much additional information as they could before they tackled the complex problem areas at hand.

David summarized the issue with this great quote: “We don’t have a pollution problem, we have a design problem.” David and Phil demonstrated their passion for the city and it’s future, and it was incredibly valuable for our fellows to share time with them. After the question session closed, and fellows set off to get to work on the challenge!

systems mapping unschool style

Teams jumped straight to it, and the walls of each of their rooms were hit with an explosion of systems maps. Lines and connections were drawn in all directions as they began to tease out leverage points.

leyla acaroglu systems mapping

Teams put the first two phases of the DD Method into practice as they mined out the problem elements and systems mapped the identified elements in order to landscape the potential intervention points.

Leyla and Bec went around helping agitate the thinking of the groups, pulling together strands of ideas and helping the teams think through dynamic and complex systems interventions. They reminded people to think about the big vision and the tangible micro interventions that will help build it over time.

Leyla then jumped into the kitchen to help prepare a delicious dinner using the giant silverbeet brought in by our local team member, Megan. The mood was surprisingly relaxed but, as the evening progressed and Leyla's review sessions approached, groups started to push themselves through the rapid ideation sessions and got ideas flowing.

Late at night, the UnSchool team went around checking in with each group before packing it up for the night.

First thing in the morning, teams had to deliver a practice pitch of their proposals. While things had started to take shape, there was still a lot of work to do. Leyla helped teams illuminate gaps in their propositions and provided fantastic feedback on how to create strong narrative presentations that paint the vision of possibility in the judges' minds.  

The 24 hours were up in a flash and it was time for fellows to pitch their concepts to a friendly judging panel, made up of mentor Rebecca Mills, the Chief Financial Officer to Christchurch City Council, Carol Bellet, and Councillor Phil Clearwater.

Presentations on how to intervene and lead Christchurch to become a one planet city included using insects laundromats and beer. Yes, teams took on the disruptive design concepts and turned them into amazing propositions of how to change communities, design eco systems services and facilitate mindset change for healthy communities.

Before marking the end of presentations with the popping of champagne, the UnSchool team had one final surprise. Throughout the week, the fellows had been very vocal in making sure our team does everything they do, so we revealed that we had completed the challenge too! Our fellowship team delivered a presentation for a “One Planet card” systems intervention with gamified elements of civic engagement and ecological footprint reduction.

We then cheers'ed with some tasty bubbly from Yealands and enjoyed a multicultural New Zealand themed lunch spread, covering a diverse range of cultures – from the very kiwi cheese roll, to dumplings, sushi, local cheese and salsa, all topped off with mini pavlovas. 

An impromptu dance party began and, after fellows got down to ‘Happy,’ we moved onto the final installment of ‘The Craig Show.’ For our final reflection session, fellows, in groups of three, contributed what they had learned, what challenged them, the most memorable moment, and a one-word description for each day over the intensive seven that we shared together.

After the collective brain dump was over, Craig asked fellows to summarize the day and report summaries back to the group, reflecting on all the adventures and discoveries that were made this week. We then gathered in a circle and shared our closing thoughts with the group before we parted ways. There were tears, laughs and a gigantic group hug before fellows jumped on flights and bikes or headed to the pub for a final celebratory drink.

...And that’s a wrap for UnSchools Christchurch! Thanks to the incredible team, all our amazing partners, collaborators and sponsors and a BIG THANK YOU to our 20 fellows for joining the adventure and sharing their passion for making change. We're looking forward to having them in our global alumni community of creative rebels working to make positive change in the world.