Grow your own way

Looking back on U.Lab

By Olivia Haughton

In the last few months you may have read about the U.Lab Grow Your Own Leaders programme run in the spring by Incredible Edible Lambeth and Impact Hub Brixton. The premise of the course may seem foreign to many but the experience can benefit everyone.

It’s quite hard to describe what U.Lab is. Even now, having gone through the process, I struggle to condense the theory into a tidy sentence to relay to friends the journey I’ve been on. The theoretical grounding of the course seemed a little daunting at first and I wasn’t sure what I was signing up for. In practice what I gained was a network of supportive people who all want to make a difference and together we were equipped with the tools to do so.

It’s been over a month since U.Lab finished and I’m still reaping the benefits with a feeling of greater community connection and personal development. U.Lab teaches active listening, empathetic interaction and creative development – skills I hadn’t considered drawing on to enhance my career and community, and yet in practicing them have begun to see shifts.

My biggest take-away has been a sense of possibility and progression; the idea of ‘iterate, iterate, iterate’ translates into a practical tool for turning talk and plans into action. Essentially, fail fast in order to succeed. The first tangible outcome is a prototype for Brixton Community Fridge to tackle food waste and poverty in one go. Crowd funding has just begun, so watch this space!

While our recent course focussed on food, the applications for U.Lab are endless and can benefit whole communities. The conscious and conscientious process of generating change together creates a platform upon which sparks of inspiration and whispered hopes can bear fruit.