7 Dec 2008

Design Authorship ... My Silver Collection

My silver collection is a cherished hobby, with roots that go back as far as my primary school years, when craft class introduced me to bead accessory creations, a class I enjoyed and looked forward to, which led to creating my own bead designs as a holiday pass time.
In high school I tyred to sell my designs, a well skilled craft, at this point I was faced with the value for money factor, although my designs where attractive but have little value in the market, because they where made with low cost beads.
My interest shifted to semi pressies stones and silver for an extra metallic touch to add value to the time consuming craft. Through constantly looking for the right silver pieces to add to my designs, I developed a Passion for silver it's self.
When I go shopping for my craft, I end up baying silver accessory for myself, as a student my collection was Small, when I started to earn a living, I was Abel to be more eclectic, adding pieces of accessory and ornaments that are elegant in style and value.
Today my interest in silver includ's a unique art in decorating silver, an art that is identified by an ethnic minority who live in the southern part of my country Iraq, The mandeans, followers of John the Baptist, who have lived in Iraq since before christianity and still do. The mandeans make their living from this unique art, by staining the silver object with a special aside using a specific concentration in order not to damage the silver it's self, creating beautiful floral and geometrical designs adding to traditional and historical landscape compositions.
The value of this art, is in the fact that the method of staining is a secret, passed on from father to son, not teaching it to outsiders to maintain the source of their livelihood.
with the current situation in my country that led many, like me, to immigrate to make a life in a peaceful land, also the young generation being educated developing interests in other Carrier paths, this art of silver staining is rear and may Di with the elders of the Mandean community. and that's whay I want to collect this art, maybe I' ll have enough to hold an exibition, you can only look you cannot buy ; )

6 Dec 2008

RSA .. The research and design journey

When I received a copy of the RSA project briefs, I found my self drawn to ( Action for Age ), because the need to meet the call for action hit close to home, the people who I love because they where a constant source of strength and support have aged with time and are too proud to admit they need emotional help.
Back home, some time in the 1990s, I was touched by a hometown story, a young man goes out of his whey every weekend to pick up his mother and go together to pick up a couple of her friends, taking them around town, stopping every now and then for refreshments, for them to enjoy an outing they have chosen with favored company, having the time of their life chatting and gossipping away with their Shoffer eavesdropping and joining in from time to time, this story caught the envious attention of others in the neighborhood., and that's how I got to hear about it.
Based on this story, I learned that the elders need affectionate attention, and by taking a ride on the Hop on Hop off Bus for tourists when I came to the U.K, it came to my attention that this trip can be enjoyable for the elderly, a drive around town in a bus equipped with services fit to meat the needs of the aged, the bus has special bus stops, and will pass by at specific timings, for the aged to hop on and of, and a final destination .... An elders center, that has services which interest the aged : ( Super market/ Hair dresser/Cafe'/ Diner/ Cinema that shows old movies ) and so on. Very quickly I found that the 1st obstacle will be finance, it's too costly.

Through talking to different age groups, contacts from friends and family, getting tips and feedback, I started to explore and collect information about local social services that are already there provided for the elderly community, reaching the conclusion: that there ARE events designed to involve the elders in a more active social life, so way is there a national problem, that the aged are still lonely and isolated and have no networking skills ?
MY questioning at this point:
* Do the elders know about those events ?
* Are those events interesting to the aged ?
* are the elders charged for attending an event ?
The 1st Chance I got for feedback from the elders in person, was a group of my mother a 70 year old and friends who are also in their 70s, Mr. John Cox A psycologist, was there and he had a lot of useful information, The elders hesitate in making a social attempt because:
* Lack of confidence, can't deal with a room full of people
* The old aged have short site, short memory, are set in their habits and don't like change.
* Afraid of falling down and breaking a bone
* Afraid of catching illness and contamination
* Those with a good education, have better aging years than those who don't, for both groups it's a continuation of a life style.

At this stage, I mapped out all my findings to put all the information out there and in matching groups, what leads to loneliness, isolation and lack of networking, to decide how to direct my next step, more questions to ask, mainly:
What is missing in those many services dedicated to the aged ?
I also mapped out some solutions on how to bring together the different age groups in society that are sponsored by the government: the elderly who are lonely and isolated with the young unemployed, who have alot of free time,by considering the young as hired help for the aged, both age groups have something to give to the other.
Another solution, is to put together several of the elderly needs in one offer : if you want one you'll have to do the other, as an example, if you want free heating units, you'll have to come and collect them as points every time you attend a social event, Later I backed out on this approach, because it was brought to my attention, that we must not take away free will and choice from an individual. I agree, when the target is the aging community, but in general, I believe that change comes through bold actions.

My next step was to approach organisations that are involved in catering for the aged, with questions based on my conversation with the elder group, such as: how was the event advertised, who paid for the cost and what where the attendance rates ?

Migrating minorities have difficulty in learning a new language.

Migrating minorities .....
Having family who came to the UK as immigrants, I know what it means to live far and away, developing an interest in visiting a familiar minority community, The Iraqi Association Gathering for the Aged.
The experience of meeting a bunch of people who where total strangers and have become friendly company looking forward to this weekly gathering, is evidence that migrating minorities are more comfortable in a familiar environment, it feeds their nostalgia. I also got some answers to my questions: ( What is missing in those many services dedicated to the aged ? )
- The social events are not constant, often a one time thing or, starts out as a regular event, then it's canceled due to lack of funds.
- organisers cannot keep their promise, causing lack of reliability.
- The need for constancy of events in familiar steady premises.

The meeting at ( Kingsbury Library Plus ) led to a new contact at Brent town hall which linked me to my next contact to farther enrich my resources, meeting the quality manager for the elderly community housing care at the Mahatma Ghandy house, a Brent Council division, a well informed authority figer, who had alot to do with my development of a solution, by directing the spotlight on all the vital realistic factors that effect any solution involving the aged.
* Financial priorities are directed at health, safety and security, leaving the social life to the attention of charities and donations.
* Self Motivation, the elders are living a continuation of a life style, Socially people do not open up to others
* Migrating minorities are not custom to white culture, therefor do not respond when a white culture activity is advertised, such as ( ball dancing )

At this point I decided I want to focus on loneliness, and try to make a difference in the life's of the elderly, by mapping out the missing links between the problem on the erderlies side and a solution that will make a lot of difference if adopted.

Now I must find a solution that is a mix and balance between the elderly needs and the practical available means.
It was at class, while explaning and discussing my findings with my tutors, that the 1st glimps of a solution came to me:
It needs to de afordable for the sponsors, ( at this stage I'm still considering two possibilities, the government or the individual supplyers ), the solution also needs to be functional: atractive and doabul for the elders.

The solution is a social service in a familiar friendly environment available and tempting to anybody given such a privilege.
A free of charge weekly gathering, at the local caffee, it's not costly and not hard to reach, the constancy and regularity create familiarity and reliability, to incurring the elders to make the initiative to make new friends, and get rid of loneliness.
Be a Friend :
where every elder individual ( those who are 50 years of age and above ) is invited to enjoy the privilege, to request a hot drink accompanied by something to eat, for the value of ( six Pounds ), supported by a visit credit card, that covers this value, issued by the government, ( the Borough Council ). This gathering will take place at one of the most visited friendly environments in every neighborhood .... The Local Caffe.

To find sponsors for this service, I went to some local caffees to find out what they think of taking part in funding a charity service and to get an idea about coffee and cake cost.
I Also took back a few steps in my research notes, to see who benefits from this as well as the elders ?
I found that the health service dedicated to the elders will benefit : for it's contribution in maintaining better health : Loneliness leads to Depression, which weakens the immune system, leaving the person vulnerable to countless
illness attacks in type and frequency.
By providing this therapeutic service, that takes the form of a social activity, it will translated into : Less loneliness, less fiscal and mental health deterioration driven from depression, consequently decreasing the strain of costly health care consumed by the aged, by investing in a preventative solution.

This solution was approved by my course leader, and I started the branding process, it's about gathering elderly people around a hot drink, to get the chance to meet others they may never bump in to in their normal circles, although they may be next door neighbors !!!
My main aim is to trigger the interest to make new friends from within ... I Want to Be a Friend
A good friend is grand, strong and warm ... Red is all of that
I used the hand writing effect as part of the lout design, because it's a known fact that each of us leave a unique impression when we write by hand, like the unique impression we leave on each other when we mix and mingle, and that impression the decides for us to take it to the next level or not.
My course leader helped in refining my design
and the rest is history ; )