This weekend, I live-tweeted for the Beirut Service Jam, a part of the Global Service Jam event that took place around the world in 135 cities. The idea of a “Service Jam” is to get excited individuals from all disciplines to come up with a project that can serve the community* – and to do so in 48 hours. Participants have to go through all the steps including brainstorming, prototyping, as well as putting together a formal proposal of the idea. This year’s theme for the GSJ was “GROW.”
The event was held at Berytech in the new-and-still-in-it’s-preschool-phase Beirut Digital District. Most tech-savvy know it as the home of Geek Express, a café/shop/workspace open for those who want to experiment with technological DIY projects and attend weekly workshops. For those who don’t speak geek, it’s in Falafel Land – the street parallel to Falafel Sahyoun going towards Bechara El Khoury intersection. Some may wonder why it was decided that this would be the best location for the BDD – I couldn’t figure it out – but based on their brochure, the area, known as Bachoura, was chosen because it’s logistically close to major landmarks, shopping centers, and is a 15min drive from major educational and health centers. Plus, it said all this nice fluffy stuff about it being historically relevant to Lebanese heritage and scars of the war. Apparently this area used to house many public libraries – where’d those go?
The BDD’s aim is to “create the right environment for companies to invest, create jobs and grow our GDP.” They want to create a hub where the ICT sector (Information & Communication Technologies) can grow and entrepreneurs can get something started. Architecturally, there are still 3 projects to be completed in 2014, 2015, and 2016.
The Beirut Service Jam participants were split into 5 teams and directed by mentors specializing in different fields. Mentors included TedxBeirut 2012 speakers Chris Littlefield & Hani Asfour, and MENA Design Research Center’s Doreen Toutikian. Other mentors focused on the art of storyboarding (Krystel Kouyoumdjis, also a participant in the BSJ), film (Rabih Ibrahim), role play (Elyssa Skaff), and set design (Rami Dalle).
Projects touched on many topics like public space, social interaction, CSR initiatives in the agriculture sector, and recycling. You can check them out here.
Interesting Interaction for me as a designer:
- Rami Dalle, a set designer, designs window displays for some shops in Beirut Souks. He specializes in embroidery, crochet, wool works, taxidermy, willow weaving, and attends workshops abroad to acquire new skills.
His #1 rule: there is no basic rule.
Highlight of the Event:
- A Skype call with fellow Jammers in Dundee, Scotland
* “Jammers are simply challenged to design and prototype a service. While many choose to do something which is community oriented, this is not compulsory, or even suggested. Jammers are equally welcome to design a purely commercial service, for example.” – from Adam, Co-Initiator of Global Service Jam