Global Challenge: Local Flavour

June 2, 2011

I recently hopped across the ditch to Queensland, Australia’s Sunshine State, for the Ideas Featival in Brisbane. We’ve been running a Local Food Challenge on OpenIDEO in conjunction with the festival and state government – featuring inspirations and innovative concepts from our spirited global community over the last couple of months. In Brisbane the OpenIDEO team were joined by policy-makers, food producers, farmers, retailers, researchers, educators, students, innovators and community connectors. Together, over two days of workshops, we explored behaviour change, customer journeys, environmental performance, health impact, community engagement, scalability and business models – alongside feasibility and implementation of the awesome shortlisted Local Food Challenge concepts.

Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer, IDEO

It was a particularly momentous occasion for me as I met a couple of my OpenIDEO colleagues for the first time after 6 months of working together from across our globally dispersed locations. Our co-founder, Tom Hulme, presented to a full house, asking How Do You Engage Those of the Edge? – celebrating the power of participation. IDEO’s Chief Creative Officer, Paul Bennett, provoked the crowd with Global Problem Solving: Can Small x Many = Big – confronting traditional interpretations of design to reveal how design thinking could be employed to address future social, ecological and political challenges.

Attendees were enthusiastic about the cross-disciplinary nature of the workshop teams. While we’re used to working in this way – it was refreshing for others who found it perspective building and got excited at the dynamic networks which formed around specific concepts. Read more on the workshops from our festival buddy, Ben Morgan, over at And here’s an assortment of festival chit-chat:

Festival rock-star & entrepreneur, Robert Pekin, Food Connect: “Gee Whizz! Amazing to watch how local folk have applied their specialist knowledge to adapting these exciting concepts to the Australian context.”

Backyard transformer, Ben Grub, Permablitz: ”There’s been a really good cross-section of players. I don’t usually interact with government, media and farmers and it was great to thrash out ideas from an online platform in an energised offline environment.”

Ray Palmer, Queensland Farmer with Symara Farms: “It was affirming to note that there’s a growing movement of folks who want to know the story behind what’s on their plate – across various sectors and communities.”

Jakob Trischler, Shortlisted OpenIDEATOR: “Awesome to get lively insights on a hot topic from such a diverse group from different disciplines.”

Ewan McEoin, Local Food Challenge Australian Lead: “Energy Central. Folks were amped to be building off such a diverse range of concepts supporting local goodness.”

Anna Bligh, Queensland Premier: “The Local Food Challenge has just gone gangbusters. You can actually go to the world with an idea and look for answers.”

Paul Bennett, Chief Creative Officer, IDEO: “Hundreds of great builds, amazing energy, long days with crazy jetlag but really, really worth it.Our first outreach OpenIDEO workshop was amazing and was powered by all your great input. Thank you all!”

Our local challenge collaborator will continue to pursue avenues to prototype a selection of concepts together with local government and those with relevant expertise, contacts and outreach capabilities on the ground. As always we’re keen to translate the stellar skills of our growing, global OpenIDEO community into real world action and change – to enhance resilience at a local level. We’ll be celebrating impact developments over on our newly launched Realisation Phases.

On the back of the intensity of the workshops we rounded off our energetic sessions with a spot of fun. We distributed stickers to participants and dispatched them across the gorgeously sprawling riverside area surrounding the State Library, to seek inspiration. The stickers prompted folks to Stick It & Show Us. They were encouraged to photograph their sighting and email it in to a website we’d quickly cobbled together – with a prize offered for the cleverest cookie on the day. Some have continued with submissions from further afield.

Check out more highlights over at (With a hat-tip to Candy Chang, whom I’ve featured on Random Specific before, for her ever-inventive public engagement initiatives which inspired us on this.)
Related posts:
OpenIDEO: Better Together
Mathare’s Micro-farms and Market Gardens

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