#MakeShift, Pop up shops and Conversation

The market place at MAKE:shift

Friday and Saturday I attended the Make:Shift event hosted by Wolverhampton City Council and Future Gov at Light House Media Centre in the city.  My head is still spinning with the possibilities that came out of the sessions and the inspirational people I met, I’m not sure I can fully articulate all of it yet, so this is likely to be the first on a couple of post event blogs from me.

It was a brilliant event and I feel I learned some interesting things about myself and my community. I met and spoke to some amazing people and between us we made a pretty cool thing happen-  but the whole event was incredibly hard work, tiring, it needed a lot of head space and at times it was incredibly frustrating. Frustrating because when you put that many people with brilliant ideas and perspectives together sometimes it takes a while to smooth out all the talking and be able to get down to just getting things done – and anyone who knows me will know I happiest when I have an idea I can run with and in the words of many a tweeter JFDI.

The top 3 highlights for me were (in no particular order)

1. The speakers, including (but not not limited to), Lorenza Casini who talked about some of the brilliant pop-up events that happened in Dewsbury, it was EXACTLY the kind of thing I had in mind when I put Gap Fillers forward as an idea. Kate Vogelsang who is ever so slightly bonkers but in a good way (and that’s meant as a compliment) and spoke really passionately about about the development of madeinlambeth.co.uk which reminded me a lot of how BCCDIY, which appears to have disappears to have disappeared now I’ve gone to link to it),  was developed but this one was with the council backing.

2. The ideas development. I was lucky enough to have one of my ideas, Gap Fillers, chosen for development at the event. I went and it really was still only a fledgling idea, but in 24 hours we turned it from a “thing” in mine, and others heads, into a reality – a pop-up shop in the city centre on the Saturday  – a kind of  crowd sourced Tourist Information Station – looking to answer the question “What is there to do in Wolverhampton after 5:30pm?  – with games and *stuff* donated ad hoc by Friday’s attendees for prizes, people came and took part and everything. I intend to write a blog post solely about Gap Fillers development later.


I can not begin to say how happy I am that this event was hosted by Wolverhampton City Council and happened in my home town, I was born, raised and still live locally and this is honestly the first time I’ve seen something like this here!

This year alone I have attended BrewcampLocal Gov camp and Talk About Local Unconference  and they’ve always involved at least one train journey to get there. This was on my doorstep and finally gave me the chance to connect with people from Wolverhampton around things I’m passionate about in the way I’ve been connecting people from further afield for a while.

It wasn’t packed to the the rafters, but small steps. Hopefully as the ideas that were worked on during the event grow more people will become involved and if (when?) there is another event like this at home more people will be engaged and willing to come.

Gap Filler @ Make Shift

Next week is the Make:Shift event in Wolverhampton and one of the ideas I submitted has been chosen for development. Gap Fillers. The idea is to look at empty spaces in the city an how we can use them creatively. I had originally said empty shops but since then i’ve been thinking about it and this idea can be used in any empty space.

The other ideas chosen for development are: Wolvopedia by Andy Mabbet, Scribble and Scribe by Craig Alford of Wolverhampton CAB and Free Organic Gardens by Elliot Lord. Which is awesome as I already know Andy, have met with Craig in the course of my day job and have already been emailing Elliot after I contacted him through the Make:Shift website about a chapter for the Wolverhampton Community Lover Guide and I know they are all passionate people, who just want to make good things happen.

Tickets are free via eventbrite and looking at the attendee list of people already signed up it looks like it should be a brilliant couple of days.