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OpenIDEATOR Insight: Charlotte Fliegner

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Charlotte Fliegner works as a graduate architect for local government architecture & urban design in Melbourne, Australia – where she specialises in design of the civic realm from small scale public spaces to community buildings to city plans. She was an avid collaborator on our Local Food Challenge and now is back in full effect on the energetic Vibrant Cities Challenge.
What first drew you to get involved in OpenIDEO?
I first saw OpenIDEO advertised on the IDEO website. I was drawn to contribute a few inspirations I had learnt from my own experiences working in the field on projects which address similar social challenges, such as sanitation infrastructure in developing countries and urban agriculture.
And how's the ride been so far?

An amazing learning experience! Being part of this online community has taught me a lot – from small insights such as how to frame a question (always positively!) to introducing me to effective brainstorming techniques. I have often used the website as a source of inspiration in my own work and have learnt so much from the great multi-disciplinary mix of OpenIDEATORS who have widened my understanding of what design can be and what important issues it can can address.

So, tell us about your experience with the Local Food Challenge at the Queensland IDEAS Festival:
Motivated by IDEO’s brainstorming tip to ‘Encourage Wild Ideas’, I posted up the concept to Redesign the Supermarket based on Food Miles. When I was invited to participate in the Brisbane Local Food Challenge workshop, I was blown away and humbled by how our ideas online are being explosed to the real world. I joined professionals from a vast range of industries – including food production, community sector, design and government – who, together with the OpenIDEO team, spent two days brainstorming, prototyping and building on the 20 short listed concepts to develop implementation plans for various concepts. The energy and optimism in the room was infectious – and incredibly exciting as a young designer and OpenIDEATOR!

What’s going on for you around design and the pursuit of social impact?
Currently I am implementing a few concepts inspired by OpenIDEO including the development of a community garden, in which I am working with a volunteer group and students from the local polytech to design and build a fresh food garden. Meena Kadri’s concept of Active Murals was also inspirational and at the moment I am integrating this idea into the design of a preschool. I have also been continuing work from Global Studio through collaborating with WASSUP (Water, Amenities, Sanitation Services Upgrading Programme) to create a basic website for the resident led group in Diepsloot, Johannesburg – the Sanitation Challenge has been a a great resource for this.
What challenges are you finding with working at the intersection of design and social impact?
I came away from the OpenIDEO Local Food Challenge workshop very enthusiastic to design and build a community kitchen immediately because I loved the concept! Being in local government, I soon came up against many processes that need to be undertaken, some of which take a lot of time to develop – funding applications, bureaucracy and procurement processes, land tenure and ownership plus gaining the support from councillors are all issues I have been tackling. I have found that nurturing strong partnerships between Local Government and end users – especially having people to champion your project within government – is essential in designing anything which is going to have real value in the community. I'm looking forward to continuing my efforts to ensure that final outcomes are appropriate for the local context and that are socially meaningful and engaging for the communities that use them.
Cheers Charlotte. We hope to enjoy more 
of your  collaborative action in future!
Join Charlotte as she co-facilitates forum conversations 
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