The Global Sustainability Jam 2011

Friday afternoon. You might think the people we meet are on their way to an after work with their colleagues. That’s not true. The people stepping through the doors of Röhsska Museet in Gothenburg are all keen on making a change that will last longer than a hangover from an evening spent at the nearby pubs. These forty or so persons will spend an entire weekend trying to come up with new solutions for how to make this world a little bit better. In just 48hours they will join together in groups and start to work on their mission – to create a service or product aimed to facilitate our progress towards sustainability. It’s time for the Global Sustainability Jam! In what area their focus will be they do not yet know, but already the buzz is starting, liaisons are being made, names are exchanged, knowledge sought for…

The Grand Wizard, Mr. B, is demanding our attention. This is emphasized by the use of a toy chicken, which when squeezed is supposed to chuckle, and a toy cow, which makes a strange mooing sound. They only really both seem to be dying. We will no doubt get used to these noises during the next couple of days. Speaking from under his giant star covered, purple wizard hat, Mr. B is welcoming us all to the Global Sustainability Jam 2011, Gothenburg,  summed up by

“Let the quest begin!”

We are also welcomed by some very interesting lecturers who give us their version of what sustainability is. It ranges from the personal view on consumption to what a municipality can do to what mankind needs to do. Inspiring!

We will be given a series of challenges during the Jam. The first one is simple enough – start getting to know each other! For this purpose a speed dating is arranged and in less than an hour we have gone from complete strangers to having chosen what people to work with, creating seven different groups. We look at each other. So. Well. Shall we, um, begin? What do we do? Walking from the auditorium to the Jam Location – a white walled room, tastefully lined with the works of Bruno Mathson – we put some ideas out there and discover that we have quite a diverse knowledge within our group. Perfect. We find a table, loaded with Post Its’, pencils, large sheets of paper and a magnetic white board. The little Post Its’ scream at us “Pick us up, scribble on me! Put me on a wall!” So that’s what we do. With no time to loose, we try to find a mutual area of interest. Words like community, nature, inspiration, fun, green starts to float around and before we know it we have mapped out some sort of outline to what we would like to do. We also present ourselves a bit more to our fellow group members by drawing who we are and then describe it in words. Such little artist all around!

But hey, wait a second – the theme hasn’t been revealed yet, has it?


We heard the cow again and take a seat by our table. We will now be shown a video from the guys initiating this whole thing. It’s time for the Jam Theme! In big letters it is given to us – Playgrounds! Playgrounds? Playgrounds.

Find more videos like this on Global Sustainability Jam

Hear. Hmm. Yes! Yes, we do like this. With a green felt pen the word is written in the middle of a big paper and we start to write down whatever we think of as important when focusing on playgrounds. We think of a lot… and then there that sound again, the dying cow. Time to leave for dinner at Wasa Allé, where the next challenge is to present our Problem Statement and pitch it to the others. Think we’re moving ahead fast? Yeah. So do we.

We seem to have a problem with our problem statement. We try different angles while munching away at delicious little appetizers, all made from ecological food, most of it locally produced. We still haven’t got it right when the soup is finished so we just pick an idea and try to work it. We pich it, get back to our group, pitch it again, talk it over. Doesn’t seem like it’s giving us that Eureka-feeling we’re looking for. We decide to scrap the first try and go for a new pitch, which will have to be delivered to the whole group in five minutes. Ay ay… M gets up and throws a new pitch out there, finding the words as he goes along. Good man, good work. We clap him on the shoulders and sit back to listen to the others. It’s a bit hard to concentrate, our minds filled up with new impressions and thoughts from the day. After some final discussions, mingling around, were back on the street again breathing in the fresh night air, saying good night and see you all tomorrow. Getting up on the bike, I smile while pedaling home through the Friday night.


Beeeeeeeep! 8 AM. Go on K, roll out of bed and down to Röhsska! Breakfast will be served. Coffee will be downed, ray bread sandwiches devoured, cereals stuffed into your mouth. In some mysterious way, we’re now only four persons remaining out of our original six-members-brain trust. Sad to hear, sickness has invaded our camp and struck out 33% of our troops. Man up, every one! The mission will go on!

With the black gold flowing through our veins we are now ready for a full day of work. Trying to recall what was actually going on seems to hard; There were challenges put out, pitches being made, lots and lots of Post Its used and all kinds of prototypes started to take form on the floor and on the tables. Creativity was flowing! There was a lunch served, snacks magically appeared, questions were asked by the organizers to get us on the right track. All in all, it was a fantastic day. Our group has now come up with a brilliant problem statement and we are working away, happily making fast progress and feeling that we are sniffing at a winning concept.

“How can urban people be inspired to rediscover the free resources of nature in a playful way?”

When the evening has come, I’m feel my brain is too worn out for me to provide any good company, and so decide to go home instead of joining up with the rest at Hard Rock Café. Can’t win ‘em all. I stumble into bed and sleep like a rock.


Beep beep beep. Again an alarm ringing at 8 o’clock. Horrible thing on a lazy Sunday morning. Wheel down to the museum, covered in water proof gear from top to toe. Gothenburg is showing of its usual grey autumn face and I have no intention of sitting around in wet trousers all day, so I come prepared. Ha! I brought my camera and a couple of nice little figures, thinking that maybe we can make a short video after all, since last night ended with yet another challenge: Present your idea to unknown people to get their opinion about it. Then hand in a short clip of these responses to the Grand Wizard to be shown Sunday morning.

J and I sneak away for a minute and make a very realistic fake video, featuring John and Anton. Check it out!

For this we get the most applauds of all, measured by the Wizard on a fake clap-o-meter, and we have a short victorious moment when tickets to Bio Roy are handed over to us. Sweet! With this, we are feeling very psyched up to keep on delivering throughout the last day of the Jam. The group splits up to go ahead with different tasks, enabling a full on, all senses final presentation to be set up. J is at the computer while M and A are drawing and writing the text to our story board. I get back in my black suit – aka the rain gear – and go hunting for food. This is something I love to do, you never know what you’re gonna find but for sure you’ll always be pleased with the end result. I ride around the nearby parks to loot whatever delicacies I can find, and am childishly stoked by the meadow mushroom which will be the king of my salad today. Want to follow in my steps? Easy. Just click Play.

Back at the museum we work feverishly with the last tasks, uploading our presentation material to the Global Sustainability Jam homepage just in time. The mooing sound is there again, telling us that it’s time to bench ourselves in the auditorium to watch all the groups’ final presentations. Some have come up with really funny ideas, some with more clever ideas, some with more practical ones. We are the last group to go on stage and after presenting yet again our problem statement, showing our videos and allowing for the audience to taste our salad, there is a surprise waiting for us – we are awarded with a free Idea Evaluation undertaken by Master students in co-operation professionals working at Chalmers and the University of Gothenburg. Waaaaaaaah! My face is beaming with happiness. This is so cool! The GeoFood application created during this event might actually take the step into the Real World. I would love to have it. My friends would love to have it. The people in the auditorium would love to have it. One day soon, we all will. We are going to make it happen!

And so, the curtain goes down on this years’ Sustainability Jam. What an inspiring event!

Happy Hunting everyone! =)

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