Idea Amplifier - Day One

I was awake early this morning, feeling excited but also a bit nervous. I quickly got myself ready and then along with Leftwing Idiot and my support worker Lottie, jumped into a cab and headed for the Roundhouse in Camden, where our two-day collaboration with young people with Tourettes – Idea Amplifier  – was about to start.

The Roundhouse is an amazing music and arts venue, and includes incredible studio spaces for creative young people.

Leftwing Idiot, filmmaker Nick, illustrator Amber, and I, set up the space ready for the day ahead. Usually at events we organise we pretty much know what’ll happen, but this time it was different. We knew the outcome would be a film, but exactly what we’d create, and how, would be the result of everyone’s input and collaboration.

At 11am we were joined by eight young creatives, all aged between 16 and 24. Between them they had a wide range of skills including music, poetry, visual art, filmmaking and photography. They’d travelled from all over the country ready to amplify their ideas with us.

I started by sharing the aims of the weekend and introducing the overall theme of change. I told them about my own experience of creating change through Touretteshero.

I also explained why we’d called the event “Idea Amplifier.” The name started as a tic and it fitted really well because an amplifier’s a device that increases the power of a signal by putting it through a process. And that’s what this weekend is about, making our ideas bigger by going through a creative process together.

Next we made a collaborators’ agreement for the weekend – a set of principles that we’d work to. Amber’s a ‘live illustrator,’ which means she draws ideas as people talk, bringing them to life instantly. Here’s our agreement:

Image: Amber Anderson

Nine people with Tourettes in a room together results in a lot of amazing tics. Early on we agreed Amber could illustrate these, and an incredible collection of drawings emerged:

Photo: Joe Wallace

Together we explored the idea of change in more detail, talking through and discussing three potential starting points for our film:

1. What change would you like to make?
2. What does change look like?
3. ‘The best conversation I’ve ever had’

After some really interesting discussion we agreed on ‘What does change look like?’ And we got to work.

I described how an approach called ‘Open Space’ helped us create Backstage In Biscuit Land and we agreed to work this way with all of us contributing ideas, questions or experiences that related to our main theme. We then split into smaller groups to chat about these in more detail, with everyone free to move about between conversations as they wished.

There was no expectation at all that we’d end up making something that directly related to Tourettes. But it quickly became clear that our shared experience of tics was a unique resource and would be central to whatever we created. By the end of this session the changes we wanted to make had started to take shape.

Image: Amber Anderson

After a quick break we set about mapping all of our skills and then deciding on a framework for our film.

We put all our ideas on the wall and used stickers to indicate those that felt most important to each of us. Any nervousness I’d felt at the start of the day evaporated as incredible concepts and ways of expressing them flooded in.

We’d started out with blank walls and just a broad theme. Five hours later we ended Day One with walls full of ideas, a title for the film, “Running away from the Circus”, and an exciting structure.

Thanks to Unlimited Impact for all their support. I can’t wait until tomorrow when the concepts come off the wall and become something real. I’m amped up!

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