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Finding Dudley 1.0 – Experiment History

Finding Dudley is an experiment which emerged in mid April 2018 as a result of Andre and Lisa’s curiosity to explore the town of Dudley, sparked by spending time in gather, doing their Teardown Labs  . This evolving from Andre & Lisa’s experience in architecture & place making, met with conversations with the Lab team, and the synchronistic methods of study practiced in #detectorism. being in conversations with the Lab Team and in particular in relation to #detectorism, and interacting with people in Dudley outside of gather.




Andre Reid | Lisa Gakunga | Daniel Blyden | Jo Orchard-Webb | Lorna Prescott


Key dates

  • Tue 1 May: Finding Dudley is coined as name suggested by Lorain of gather – Andre
  • Fri 11 May: Initial mapping – Andre | Lisa | Jo | Daniel Blyden
  • Fri 18 May: Further mapping – Andre | Lisa | Jo
  • Fri 8 June: Open invitation to Finding Dudley session


Roots and development of the idea


Building on Richard’s observations around ‘dark spots’ in Town Centres like Dudley and catalysed by the Detectorists Collective session on 16 April in which we mapped networks in relation to Repair Cafe etc., Andre had insights about nodes in the network as individuals with existing and latent capabilities which might be revived and re-nurtured. He suggested a 6 week plan to revive/repair a series of existing nodes in Dudley and bridge them back to gather. Invitation/interaction/potential happenings could be across multiple key channels/nodes in the public realm, which cross between different social layers, such as the market, cafes, corner shops, high street, supermarkets etc… drawing pathways back to gather or key nodes which can held hold/distribute energy. (Ref Kiondo @ gather WhatsApp group chat 17 April).


After the Food for Thought session on Detectorism at Impact Hub on 26 April, Andre was further inspired to kick off experimentation beyond the TearDowns which had started and were scheduled.


On 2 May Andre communicated an intent that he and Lisa would start some mapping exercises on Fri 4 May, and said Loraine had helped come up with the name ‘Finding Dudley’. Andre was working on Insight Requirements and a toolkit of equipment and things needed to map as a collective. [Mapping actually started on 11 May]


On 12 May Jo shared a paper (in WhatsApp Group) on Ethnographic understandings of ethnically diverse neighbourhoods to inform urban design practice

https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/13549839.2017.1385000?needAccess=true& and reflected that key points for her re. Finding Dudley & agency of public realm in connectedness, social justice & resilience were:


  • Mutuality of presence that results from seeing and being seen/ walking in a neighbourhood  
  • Understanding temporal / material / relational patterns of use and cultures of sociability via ethnographic tools of observation, listening and informal interviews.
  • Practical ideas around the importance for spaces of retreat and nearby quietness
  • Streets as spaces of passing by affording informal / casual but regular interactions that affect our sense of belonging.
  • Differing experiences of public space based upon perceptions on gender, class, ethnicity = need for cultural literacy to enable greater social justice in public realm planning.  


Jo said the paper had lots of overlap with the Detectorism active social interaction categories which were tested during mapping on 11 May: Curiosity/ Comfort/ Fun/ Vulnerability/ Hostility as interacting with domains or substantive topics of urban mobility and histories which Andre and Lisa brought to the experiment.


On 24 May Andre, Lisa, Jo and Daniel met to develop Finding Dudley and explored the following ideas:

  • An open invitation to Finding Dudley be extended to local people
  • Fortnightly Finding Dudley sessions hosted by Jo, Lisa and Andre which will borrow methods from the photowalk (capturing observations over a walking route in the town), Brumsquared (a focused capture on a small space) and Street Wisdom (https://www.streetwisdom.org).
  • Co-design of a Finding Dudley toolkit. Sessions are explicit in inviting all, and open to new methods of capture / exploration from doers. This is understood as drawing from the detectorism principles of open to all, creativity & empathy led shared learning, the contributes in an open way to the knowledge commons. e.g. openly sharing on Flickr / medium / colab site as lab notes etc. Importantly this research is done by and can be redesigned by the doers / detectorists of Dudley.  Lisa will add some of this data into a map with a 2 mile radius of gather.
  • A staggered start after the beginning of Finding Dudley will be co-designed mini-interventions (doers led with examples & inspiration shared by Lias and Andre). e.g. putting our chairs in a public place that doesn’t have anywhere to sit down (even for 10min) to see what that generates/ feels like/ how people respond. These mini-interventions will be informed by the Finding Dudley themes.
  • A Tactical Urbanism co-design Jam – led by Daniel/ Lorna – an opportunity to use the treasure found in the Finding Dudley process and mini-interventions detectorism to inform this jam. We hope this might lead to more citizen led action, tactical urbanism skills leant and even tested!
  • Kiondo help support a larger intervention [not sure what this will be but will be informed by the narratives of the shared learning/ need to think though the invitation to co-design for doers]
  • Throughout this season of doing potent narratives around identity, histories, place and power to design your own space etc are likely to emerge and we can think with Nick about how to go about capturing and sharing out loud in the most powerful way.



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