GA Conference - Ideas Zone

Continuing my reflection on the GA Conference
New for 2014, and I hope it comes back next year, was the Ideas Zone.
This had a range of activities which connected with projects that I've been involved with for the last few years.
Mission:Explore were there with books, missions, stampers and a preview of the new website, which has been updated and given some new features.
There was also Follow the Things, with Professor Ian Cook, assisted by Mary Biddulph and Eeva Kemppainen and other colleagues.
I wrote a piece about the Ideas Zone for the TES Geography Week, but not sure that it got used in the end, so here it is instead / as well...

Ideas Zone
One new addition for this year’s Conference was the Ideas Zone. This was a large room dedicated to play and exploration, but with a serious purpose. There were two main organisations and projects being showcased.
Explorer HQ, through Dan Raven Ellison, a National Geographic Emerging Explorer and Helen Steer, one of this year’s London Leaders, led people through their Mission:Explore project. This encourages young people to experience the outdoors, by carrying out short tasks. These are all based on ideas of enquiry and investigation. The team had created a special set of missions for delegates at the conference to complete. They have recently finished a project on Water with Thames Water, and an ‘Internet of Things’ project called ‘Distance’, and all the materials are available under Creative Commons license. At a time of increasing competition, it was good to see such an open and collaborative approach. - Mission:Explore’s website - TES Resources link to Mission:Explore Water - Project DISTANCE

The second project in the Ideas Zone was organised by ‘Follow the Things’, which is a research-based project led by Professor Ian Cook from the University of Exeter. This has a focus on trade justice issues, covering stories such as the collapse of the Rana Plaza factory just over a year ago, the sourcing of components in mobile phones, and other stories related to commodities. 

One aspect of the work was a table piled high with Lego pieces, where people were encouraged to re-create a story from the website. With the help of Eeva from Helsinki, I produced a visual representation of the creation of the Fairphone. I tweeted out a picture of my creation and got some replies from people working for the company, which was really interesting.
This is powerful geography which grows from stories of unknown others.

There was also an interesting recreation of the classic Top Trumps game, where people were asked to investigate the ‘score’ for their clothing in terms of ethical sourcing and other aspects.

It’s important that we follow the things we consume back to the origins so that we understand the implications of our choices – this is real interdependence in action – proper geography !

A STORIFY of the event curated by Ian is available HERE.

Image copyright: Rose Ledgard / Geographical Association