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Slum Communication Kit

A physical deck of cards that identifies, articulates and communicates the specific needs, ideas and values of urban slum communities.

Photo of Jordan Lane

Written by

EXPLAIN YOUR IDEA

We would like to solve two main problems: 1. How do we give a voice to people living in urban slum communities (local experts) to articulate their needs and ideas? 2. How can we create a common language and visual overview of the specific needs of urban slum communities which can be used easily to "educate" urban decision makers? Our idea is a physical deck of cards that identifies, describes and communicates the specific needs of urban slum communities. The idea is that the cards provide a visual overview and create a common language to facilitate communication between local experts and urban decision makers. The cards solve the problems we have identified by creating a framework for people to build workshops, conversations and ideas around. They are deliberately simple and easy to use. We have found this allows for greater conversation...we don't want people to drown in information, but rather use the cards to spark conversation, ideas and allow people a holistic view over their situation. While some planning/workshop tools may impose certain solutions, our idea is to create the conditions and space for the community's ideas to appear and develop.

WHO BENEFITS?

It should be just as beneficial for residents of a local community to develop and use the kit, as it is for an urban decision maker to use it in a workshop. By using accessible language, locally relevant icons and short descriptions of each item, the kit should feel right at home in a local school, government office, family home or community centre. This is where the ideas should be formed and then implemented.

HOW DOES YOUR IDEA TAKE INTO ACCOUNT THE CONTEXT OF URBAN SLUMS AND CLIMATE CHANGE?

By providing a structure (or hooks) for their ideas, without imposing a set solution, the kit allows for local solutions to local challenges. It allows people, organisations and governments the chance to build a common language together, and then use that language to explore, discover, engage and create together. The simplicity of the kit means that it can be constantly updated and adapted to dynamic local conditions. It is not a static deck of cards, but one that is constantly taking the uncertain future and context of climate change into account.

IN-COUNTRY EXPERIENCE

  • Yes, for two or more years

EXPERTISE

  • I’ve worked in a sector related to my idea for at least two years

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS

  • Yes

TELL US A BIT ABOUT YOURSELF

We are a team affiliated with MethodKit that create analogue card based tools. methodkit.com Through the new methodkit.org - we have started to develop creative commons kits, for the greater good. We are always looking for great people to join us to create place specific tools for change!

IS THIS A NEW OR RECENT IDEA FOR YOU OR YOUR ORGANIZATION? HOW DOES IT DIFFER FROM WHAT YOU ARE ALREADY DOING?

We have been working with summarising different fields for many years now, in over 50 countries. From sustainable development to equality, we have been defining the essential elements of each field and creating communication tools for each. The idea of the Slum Communication Kit builds upon the knowledge, experience and research we have undertaken throughout this process. Slum Communication Kit differs from this process in the following ways - 1. Site & Place Specific Kits - our goal is to create different kits for different places. A community in India has different needs to one in Kenya - we want to partner with local people and create THEIR kit with THEM. 2. Local Languages & Visuals - each kit will be created in the local language with place specific visuals. 3. Crowdsourcing information - creation in collaboration with local communities - the real experts. 4. Evolving versions - as the needs of the communities change, we want the kit to update and reflect that.

HOW IS YOUR IDEA DIFFERENT FROM OTHER SIMILAR INITIATIVES? WHAT ARE YOU DOING DIFFERENTLY? WHAT UNIQUE ADVANTAGES DO YOU HAVE?

There are many card-based tools. Here are some advantages we see in our idea. 1. A VISUAL, PHYSICAL TOOL - Easy to grasp graphics to quickly communicate the ideas/needs. 2. DISCUSSION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CARDS - Cards are catalysts that aid to provide structure and overview. Cards provide the crucial information, the ideas and needs you are working on remain in focus. 3. AS LITTLE INFORMATION AS POSSIBLE - cards are not books! The cards provide a quick overview, not a 500 page instruction manual. 4. DESCRIPTION WITHOUT DIRECTION - We want to explain what a measurable goal is but without telling you how you should or should not do it. 5. STRAIGHTFORWARD LANGUAGE - Get rid of the crap, not the complexity. Decode the language so everyone understands! 6. SWEETSPOT BETWEEN STUCTURE & CREATIVITY - Create the space for ideas to devlop & evolve...not push them in a certain direction. 7. CONVERSATION IS MORE IMPORTANT THAN CARDS - Like building scaffolding, the cards are there to help you build YOUR vision. 8. COVER ESSENTIAL NEEDS - All killer. No filler. 9. NO RIGHT OR WRONG - There are many ways to use the kit. You decide for yourself (we can give some hints too!)

WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR UNANSWERED QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR IDEA?

We would like to know - 1. How to best facilitate multiple collaborative processes - creating mulitple kits in different places at the same time. 2. How to best distribute physical kits - local printing? Free to download? Creative commons? 3. How to find the right people to create the kits with - finding local experts. 4. How do we ensure those that need the tool most can have access to it?

WHY DO YOU THINK THE PROBLEM YOUR IDEA SOLVES FOR HASN'T BEEN SOLVED YET?

The problem Slum Communication Kit is addressing has not been solved yet, because the goal posts are always being moved. Communities are dynamic and ever changing. Urban slum communities are evolving organisms, not engineering problems. Communication is difficult for many reasons - misunderstandings, academic language, lack of forum, corruption, lack of faith and trust, no clear starting point. Our idea lifts communication and builds a framework for the local community to build their needs/ideas/visions on. The conversation is more important than the tools used.

HOW HAS YOUR IDEA CHANGED BASED ON FEEDBACK FROM YOUR COMMUNITY?

The great support and communication from the community has shown us the potential to create multiple Slum Communication Kits in many different places around the world. It is encouraging to see the potential in sharing a process that can be translated and applied in local contexts. The idea has evolved to include a diversity of languages and places and people.

WHAT WOULD YOU ULTIMATELY LIKE TO ACHIEVE WITH THIS IDEA? WHAT IS YOUR NEXT STEP TO GET THERE?

We want to give a voice to the silent. We want to level the playing field. We want to speak like locals, in their language. We want local experts to stand beside government figures. We want to create the tools people need to dream, communicate, create, prototype and build a better future. In concrete terms, our next step is to partner with local organisations to develop a site specific Slum Communication Kit for their context. By developing the kit with them, we can ensure it is relevant, necessary and up to date with the needs of the community. Come and join us! If we can communicate a better world to each other, we are one step closer to building a better world with each other.

How does your idea connect to the broader system of the city where you plan to implement?

The SlumKit is designed to connect and support existing initiatives in many ways. First, it can be used in a broad range of contexts - from community meetings, to citizen dialogues and planning meetings. For example, if we say a slum community would like to work with their water and sanitation system - the kit can be used at multiple stages through the process. - If the community has already created a Kit for themselves they will have people able to facilitate the processes. - The kit could be used as a checklist throughout the action. - It could be used to communicate with other initiatives (so synergy effects can be found eg. creating footpaths after working with water system). - It could be used to create a list of priorities and create a time-line. - It could be used to talk to local officials and decision makers. - It could be used to evaluate the action. The kit is a visual framework for ideas, and does not impose a set solution. This creates urban resilience!

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Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Jordan!

Below are some questions from our expert review of your idea. We'd love to hear your responses!

What information do you have about whether local organisations will use or want the kits?

One additional consideration that might be useful to address more explictly is how the cards are intended to be used. Who will facilitate interactions and discussions in communities? The cards can be a handy tool, but the existence of intermediaries would be important to help facilitate application / discussion within different populations in slum. How will these conversations link to community action? 

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Hi Chioma! 

Thank you for your questions! Here are our responses...

1. What information do you have about whether local organisations will use or want the kits?
- The response on openIDEO has been quite positive. To date we have been contacted by local organisations in Kenya, Vietnam, France and Brazil to name just a few. All of the local organisations have expressed interest in developing a Kit specific to their site, context & community with us. This is how we hoped the process to develop. Our goal is not to create a 'one-size-fits-all' kit for all urban communities and distribute it, rather that we share our process and collaborate with local organisations and communities to CREATE A KIT FOR EACH COMMUNITY. This ensures that each kit made is relevant for the specific context and community. By developing a kit with a local organisation and community we feel we can guarantee they will want to use it in their activities as they will be not only local experts, but experts in using the kit and understanding its strengths and limitations. 

2. How are the cards are intended to be used?
- The cards can be used in a broad range of contexts and with various methods. They can be a mobilisation and communication tool within groups. For example, members of the community could use them to discuss priorities and activities together. Then the community members could use the cards as visual props and anchors to structure a conversation with the city planning office. In this way they are a communication tool and an interface between members of a group and also between different groups. Some practical examples of the kit in practice include:
     - Citizen Dialogues
     - Visual Planning Tool in a public space. eg. in a community centre
     - City planning meeting
     - Calendar planning meetings
     - Writing a community charter
     - Making a list of priorities for a community
     - Creating a timeline together. 
     - Educating new members of the community
     - Creating neutral ground between decision makers and community members

3. Facilitators and intermediaries - who becomes the human interface?
- We hope the process of creating the kit alongside local organisations builds the confidence and competence in the local community so that they become the default facilitators and intermediaries. As there are many different ways to use the tool, we hope that they will also develop their own practices and processes that work for their local community. If they are active in making the tool, they will understand it better and be able to teach others. Of course we will lend a helping hand and share our knowledge and experiences too!

4. How will these conversations link to community action?
- STEP 1 - Making the tool - allows the community to create a living list of ideas, actions, elements and priorities. This process is very useful as it encourages the creation of a common language, allows for multiple perspectives and is very active. 
- STEP 2 - Using the tool - When the tool is created, those who have been active in the process can begin to facilitate conversations with other local stakeholders and members of the community. Simple language and meaningful icons create a structure for conversations with a group. These conversations can lead to mobilisation and action within a group. The kit becomes a mobilising tool.
- STEP 3 - Sharing the tool - When the group is ready to talk to other stakeholders, they can share what they know with urban decision makers for example. The kit then acts as a visual interface.
- STEP 4 - Maintaining the tool - When action has started the kit can be used as a reference or checklist for action items. As progress is made and the needs of the community changes, the kit can be reviewed, edited and updated to reflect the needs of the community.

The kit creates space for positive conversations to take place. It creates a structure that is accessible and understandable for all. If it is created, used, shared and updated by the community it will be relevant for many years to come. The kit allows space for meaningful communication, so that the community can discuss, plan, create and take action together!

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Jordan! Thanks for the detailed response! Is there a specific location that you have in mind to pilot these cards?

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Hi Chioma! 

We have a few locations in mind at the moment. We feel it would be very beneficial to pilot the cards in different contexts at the same time to find differences in process and development. This would allow for a more diverse and robust tool. It would be very interesting (and feasible we feel) to try it out simultaneously in African, Asian and South American contexts. We have formed solid contacts in Kenya, Brazil and Vietnam for example. 

We are of course very open to suggestions from you and the wider openIDEO community. 

Where do you feel we could make a positive difference? Is there a certain city or country you have in mind? 

Photo of Chioma Ume
Team

Hi Jordan,
Thanks for your response! I think that your idea has the potential to make a positive difference in places where you have solid connections to the local community - to see how people interact with the cards, and what prompts would best suit their needs! Great to hear that it sounds like you have some of those relationships already established.
Have a wonderful holiday!

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Hi Chioma! 

Thank you for your encouragement and guidance. We believe the SlumKit has potential to be of positive change through the process of creation and subsequent use. While we have some established relationships, we would really like to reach out and connect with all groups and contexts.

Thank you for joining us on our journey...and happy holidays to you too! 

Photo of Quatorze Association
Team

Hi Jordan!

We are an association from Paris, France. We are focused on sharing processes to transform the contemporary metropoles, acting in three complementary levels: Pedagogy, Construction and Design.

We use the participation process as a way of communication and contribution of the inhabitants of the slums, and we think that your IDEA could be an excelent tool to improve this sharing process, where women and children are usually "invisible".

Does the kit include operating instructions to adapt it to each especifical issue?

Thank you.

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Hey everyone!

Wow. I checked out your website and am very impressed with the work you are doing. Finding a third place between academia, professionalism and activism. Keep up the great work!

One of the central aims of the kit is "to give a voice to the silent" - we do not explicitly describe who the silent are, as every context is different, but very often they are women and children.

We intend to create easy-to-use instructions that would come with the kit. However these instructions will be very simple, giving examples of how to use the kit. We do not want to create a "board game" or a "book written on cards". Our idea is that we cover the most important needs, aspects and elements of a certain community context and create a holistic overview.

We would love to hear more about your process and see how we can share and learn with each other. I am interested to know how you initiate your projects? How do you create long lasting value and care for the spaces you build? In our experience, creating lasting social value and structure is a central challenge to creating vital communities.

We would love to hear more! Please keep in touch!

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Hi everyone!

Wondering how you are going these days? Hope to hear from you again soon.

Photo of Mukami Mathai
Team

Hello Jordan,
I like your idea. We are a community based organization based and working in several urban slum areas in Nairobi, Kenya. Kindly visit our website to see more of what we do for the community. www.sidarec.org. You can also get in touch with me on lucysidarec@yahoo.com. Would like to work you.
Best Regards,
Lucy Mukami

Photo of Ola Möller
Team

Hello Lucy! That sounds interesting!
- What are common challenges for slums in Nairobi?
- Are their specific problems in Kenyan slums that might not occur somewhere else?
- What are concerns that often come up from within the communities?

Photo of Mukami Mathai
Team

Hello Ola,
There are several challenges in Nairobi slums:
- Poor sanitation
- Poor drainage/ sewer systems
-Congested housing
-air,water and land pollution
-lack of access to clean water
-poverty, people living below the poverty line
-unemployment
Most of the problems that slum dwellers in Nairobi face, occur in slums worldwide.
The most common concern brought up by community members is misappropriation or/and embezzlement of public funds by public officers, needed for the development of facilities such as toilets, hospitals, sewer and clean water systems to state a few.

I hope I have answered your questions.

What impact has the slum communication kit had on slum areas? Is it in use anywhere yet?
Will it cater to the different languages in different countries?

Kind regards,
Lucy

Photo of Ola Möller
Team

Hello Lucy

Yes. That sounds that similar challenges to what we have discussed with Frej that mostly focused on India & Brazil.

How is the local government working with slum & slum dwellers in Nairobi?
How well did the slum dwellers self-organize to put up demands on local gov?
Is there lots of repression in the slums by local government (police eg)?
What would be needed to push public officers into caring and taking action?
What's the level of literacy?

We did not try the kit yet. But other kits been used to bring people together on other topics before.
A version in swahili would be interesting!

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Hey Lucy!
Thank you very much for getting in touch with us! I checked out the SIDAREC website. You truly are doing some great work. I especially like GHETTO FM radio!

As Ola has said, the Slum Communication Kit is founded on research and experience from working on other topics, and is yet to be implemented in slum communities. That is why we are so happy to hear from you!

Our vision is that by using the framework that we have tried and tested, we could create local and place specific kits in multiple communities around the world. That of course means finding local experts like yourself and working alongside each other.

We follow a simple structure of ICON, TITLE & CAPTION. We have found this to be very successful in providing a framework, without drowning people in details. It gives all participants and users the ability to build upon the cards in the kit with their own needs, ideas and imagination.

The icon/image should be relevant and understood in the local community, and the title and caption should of course be in the local language.

As Ola said...a swahili kit would be interesting.

Photo of Mukami Mathai
Team

Hello Ola,
Yes indeed, most developing countries are faced with similar challenges.

The Kenyan government initiated a slum clean up project by the NYS (National Youth Service), which involved stationing groups of them in different urban slum areas. Slum dwellers were also given a chance to sign up and earn money from the exercise. The government opted to save a percentage of their earnings as savings for each individual, to install a savings culture. All this went well for a couple of months but unfortunately, the corruption plague surfaced resulting to a halt in the project.
Overall, the local government tries to assist slum dwellers, the issue is that the projects are not sustained in the long run.

The slum dwellers rely on the nonprofits that care for change,to cater for their needs. They rely on social media and mainstream media to air their views and demands to the government, because of inaccessibility and unapproachable nature of the leaders in government.

The repression by the police in these areas is moderate, not as extreme as it used to be. Although they are somewhat hostile and ineffective when it comes to investigating and solving crimes. However, they are helpful in assisting victims of natural disasters and accidents. A salary increase will curb corruption and prompt them to care more and take action. If they can't sustain themselves considering the harsh conditions they work under, they take bribes and disregard their duties, hence halting development.

The literacy level in urban slums is moderate. Most people are aware of the importance of educating themselves and their children. Our organization (SIDAREC) has a school project, that is, Early Childhood Education and Primary education, which offers affordable education in several urban slums. We also have an ICT center which the community has responded to well as we have a good number of people seeking ICT education coming in.

Regards,
Lucy.

Photo of Mukami Mathai
Team

Hello Jordan,
I believe the kit will be effective, especially in bringing to light taboo practices that negatively affect the society, which most are embarrassed to talk about, hence they suffer in silence.

We would love to partner with you to test this out in several urban slum areas in Kenya. A Swahili kit would be best as that is our national language.
Kindly lets make this a reality.
Lucysidarec@yahoo.com

Regards,
Lucy

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Yes Lucy!

Let's do this!

I will contact you by email shortly.

Kind regards,

Jordan & team.

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on making it to the Feedback Phase Jordan! We would love it if you can take some time to answer the new Refinement questions that we've added to your original idea submission form. To answer the new questions, hit the Edit Contribution button at the top of your post. Scroll down to the entry fields of the new Refinement questions. Hit Save when you are done editing.

Also, here's a useful tip: When you update the content of your post, it'd be helpful to indicate this in your idea title by adding an extension. For example, you can add the extension " - Update: Experience Maps 11/16" to you idea title. This will be a good way to keep people informed about how your idea is progressing!

Photo of My Huynh
Team

Hello Jordan and the team,
Firstly, I'm truly interested in your simple but really great idea on creating a physical deck of cards to communicate for the urban slum communities.
I strongly believe that these simplicity but still informative cards can help spread out these issues.
My question is, since I've seen the display of the cards, is there any ways to make it a bit colorful to be able to attractive, more rememberable and recognizable ? And besides, I see you choose English as the common language, but is that possible to adjust the language based on the targeted geographic?
Thank you. Cheers.

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Hey My!

Thank you so much for your interest and kind words.

Of course the cards will be in the local and most appropriate language. Our hope is to work with multiple people in different communities and create site specific kits for each place. Each kit would be unique, just as the needs for the local communities are. We feel it is possible to make unique kits for each place as we will use the simple format we have described.

Where are you based and working now? It would be great to find out more!

Photo of My Huynh
Team

Hi Jordan,
It is great to hear back from you. Thank you for such a quick and informative reply.
Oh yes, as what I heard from you, a unique but simple format design may turn the kits more recognizable and stand out.
I'm currently studying management course and working at Sydney. I came to this online platform through recommendation of my professor. And Im really impressed to see how people like you and others being so innovative and passion for what you guys are working on.
I look forward to seeing your great ideas to go further :)

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Thanks My!

All the best with your studies and check in regularly to see how it develops.

Please keep in touch!

Photo of Timothy Gachanga
Team

I like your idea and would like to be part of your team. Who makes the cards?

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Hi Timothy. We are glad that you like the idea and would like to join us! We are looking for people with specific knowledge of the needs of local communtities and environments. What region and city are you based in?

Our hope is that we can create the cards alongside people in different countries, regions and cities and that each kit becomes a site specific kit reflecting the very needs of that certain place. Written in the local language with descriptions and icons that reflect that place.

This will allow us to create a truly local and place specific framework for the kits.

Photo of Vinh Pham
Team

Hi Jordan, I love this idea. Have you you thought of collaborating with any university ? I think this kit could be used effectively in teaching and discussion. The issues are also different in different communities, which might require different kits to make.

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Hi Vinh! Thank you very much. We are currently in conversations with a number of universities in Sweden but would of course love to collaborate with universities in the target countries! If you have some connections yourself or know of people who would like to be involved, please let us know!

Photo of Ola Möller
Team

Hi Vinh. We know that many universities use the kits. We hope that the kit about informal settlements can be used effectively in for example teaching architects how to work in slums. As I mention in a previous comment:

"Many of the architects are not educated in informal neighbourhoods and the organic growth of them. The common problem is an architect building a school by bulldozing a square. That becomes very awkward in a neighbourhood where everything grew forward. They need to be educated how the favela works to be able to do a good work that serves the residents."

Photo of OpenIDEO
Team

Congrats on this being featured in this week's challenge highlights! https://challenges.openideo.com/blog/urban-resilience-weekly-highlights-october-30-2015

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Thank you for featuring the idea in this weeks highlights! We hope this will help us find more local experts living and working in urban communities around the world! If you are out there and listening...please get in touch!

Photo of Ola Möller
Team

I've been working on creating card-based discussion tools for a few years now through MethodKit -> https://methodkit.com/

We been in discussion with Frej who is a swedish architect specialized in informal settlements (foremost Brazil/India). He been seeing loads of blank spots in education of architects that build in slums.

Many of the architects are not educated in informal neighbourhoods and the organic growth of them. The common problem is an architect building a school by bulldozing a square. That becomes very awkward in a neighbourhood where everything grew forward. They need to be educated how the favela works to be able to do a good work that serves the residents.

A card-based tool like this could be good interface between the residents and for example community workers, the city & architects. A way to discuss issues and possibilities without forgetting people involved.

Photo of Shane Zhao
Team

Great to see you in the challenge Ola! Has your MethodCard team started to test this slum communication kit with any communities on the ground? You mentioned working with Frej in the informal settlements of brazil. Are there any other implementing partners that your team is currently exploring?

Photo of Ola Möller
Team

Nice to be here! We been testing MethodKit as a concept alot. But not in the context. Three action steps to get forward would be:
1. Create a taxonomy. (What would be important in discussing to map the community.)
2. Draw icons
3. Test it (we need people in different countries here, this is where we really see that the community around OpenIDEO could be helpful!!!)

Photo of Timothy Gachanga
Team

Hi Jordan. I am from Kenya. I am impressed by your methodology and replicability of the project. Thank you.

Photo of Jordan Lane
Team

Timothy, it would be fantastic to create a tool that is specific to your region. What city or local region have you been working with? If you are interested in developing a place specific kit based on your local knowledge and understanding, that would be very interesting!

We hope that together we can build the process and framework for making the kits, and then partner with great people like you who have expert local knowledge.

Does this sound interesting to you?