CoLab Dudley

CoLab Dudley is one of many ways that Dudley CVS is exploring how to help steward kinder, more creative, vibrant and connected communities and places.
CoLab Dudley

Reimagining our futures

Imagine you’ve just discovered a secret time portal and are being whisked forward in time. The 10 years you are travelling forward through are a time of profound social change, in which old institutions fell away and were replaced by new ones. In which change previously thought unimaginable became unstoppable.

The 2030s that you emerge into are of a world profoundly changed, profoundly transformed. A world that is now more equal, more resilient, beautiful, diverse, delicious and delightful. You’ve landed on Dudley High Street. It’s a spring morning.

The sun rises in a clear sky over Top Church and the patchwork farm plots on the rooftops of Provision House and the Trident Shopping Centre. It casts a gentle morning light onto the upper branches of the town centre food forest between the High Street and the Inhedge, which began to be planted by local people in 2024. Their thoughtful observations of the land, consideration of future climate challenges and desire to create habitat for more-than-human life led to this peaceful oasis, abundant in life, requiring little in terms of maintenance.

In 2025 local people had formed stewarding circles. Many who got involved had previously used, supported or run food banks. Now they listen to the land, ensuring that when there is food ready to forage or harvest gatherings will be convened, skills will be shared, stories will be exchanged, and food will be distributed among their neighbours.

Colab Dudley Future Image 1

The above future imagining and the images created by students we have been working with are just a taste of many which are emerging through CoLab Dudley’s work inviting all of us to reimagine futures in Dudley.

“The more people who collaborate on creating a vision for the future, the more people will find a home in that future.”
- adrienne maree brown

Colab Dudley Future Image 2

Learning by doing

Instigated by Dudley CVS officer Lorna Prescott, CoLab Dudley is one of many ways that Dudley CVS is exploring how to help steward kinder, more creative, vibrant and connected communities and places.

It is a new approach to creating spaces and experiences that are open to everyone. It creates opportunities for all of our talents to shine - no matter who we are, or how much time or energy we can bring. Examples of things you can get involved in which have emerged through CoLab Dudley support include:

  • Growing Up In Dudley (part of the Dudley People’s Archive)
  • Black Country Collage Club
  • Trade School Online / Trade School Dudley
  • Connect Dudley - a creative writing group which meets online fortnightly
  • Do Fest Dudley 2021 - taking place on Dudley High Street and online Fri 30 July to Sun 1 Aug

See more activities and news about Do Fest Dudley and other events at doingindudley.net

CoLab Dudley on the High Street is a space where people are experimenting together to reimagine Dudley High Street and town. Shared learning underpins everything that happens, so that collectively we understand how to play a part in nurturing a more resilient town and community.

Find out more about the lab here: dudleyhighstreet.uk/colab-dudley/

Unlikely collaborations

The lab team
The CoLab Dudley team beautifully blends a multitude of different skills and knowledges. At the beginning of 2021 the team members included:

  • a local architect
  • a local dance practitioner and social entrepreneur
  • a geographer/ participatory researcher
  • a local creative convenor
  • a local arts and culture magazine editor and curator
  • a drama therapist experimenting with a social enterprise
  • a Dudley CVS officer bringing community development and permaculture design to the mix

Meet the lab team here: dudleyhighstreet.uk/people

Time Rebels
The lab team supports a collective of Time Rebels, local people and creatives who develop experiments and activities inviting people of all ages and background to imagine, create and grow collective dreams.

Time Rebels might be animators, architects, archivists, collectors, curators, designers, doers, dancers, explorers, growers, map makers, navigators, network weavers, painters, performers, photographers, poets, researchers, sound artists, sculptors storytellers, videographers, visual artists, writers… you?

Meet the Time Rebels of Dudley here: dudleyhighstreet.uk/time-rebels

Learning partners and networks
CoLab Dudley collaborates with learning partners; these collaborations are built on trusted relationships which have deepened over time. Learning partners in 2021 include Civic Square, APEC Architects and Birmingham City University's School of Architecture and Design.
CoLab Dudley embraces a networked approach to learning through a constellation of Fellow Travellers; people in other places across the UK and around the world who are also experimenting with seeding and growing alternative systems.
We 'work out loud'; sharing our learning as we go in Lab Notes which are published here: medium.com/colab-dudley
We share learning and resources directly with colleagues in Dudley Council, which is helping to influence ways that communities can get permission to do things like build parklets on their streets.

With thanks to Rob Hopkins for inspiring ways of future imagining, to Roman Krznaric for inspiring our call out for Time Rebels, and to BCU students for their artwork, designs and gifts for Dudley High Street.

Get in touch

If all of this has made you very curious and you’d like a chat, get in touch with Lorna Prescott: lorna@dudleycvs.org.uk

Call or message 07501 722255 | twitter @colabdudley

Read the latest articles from the CoLab website - dudleyhighstreet.uk

- Jo Orchard-Webb
Sensing place: shared sensemaking — Insights from Do Fest 2021 Time Rebel High Street experiments

Sensing place: shared sensemaking — Insights from Do Fest 2021 Time Rebel High Street experiments“What questions does this raise about different forms of knowledge? … [Imagination] Infrastructure that seeks liberatory ends must bring together the heart, the mind, and the body by valuing embodied knowledges and experiences alongside their rational and intellectual counterparts.” [Olivia Oldham, on Imagination Infrastructure]“Place and mind may interpenetrate till the nature of both is altered” Nan Shepherd, The Living MountainWelcome to our shared Do Fest 2021 detectorism treasure.These lessons and insights have been captured in three stages:in the preparation and co-design of the festival experiments (you can read more in the lab notes written by Time Rebels);during live experiments on the High Street at the festival (more on Do Fest and the experiments here);and in shared and individual reflections and ripples that… Read More

- Holly Doron
Prototyping Street Detectorism

Following on from our Lab Note Introducing Street Detectorism, we revisit our intentions for street detectorism (highlighted throughout this lab note with 💭), and share how it has since evolved. This process of thinking and working out loud has been an active design tool for the continual prototyping and development of street detectorism.Street detectorism encourages us to use all our senses to experience and discover how we move, act, interact, socialise and respond to Dudley High Street. Through collective observations and experiences, we hope to grow our awareness and understanding of our surroundings, and use this to inspire us and help us to co-create High Street experiments in an informed and contextual way. We can then use our senses to fully take in any changes that our experiments cause, learn… Read More

- Jo Orchard-Webb
Time Rebels in practice

Notes from a shared enquiry by CoLab Dudley Time Rebels into what they are sensing and testing out in terms of what it means to be a practising Time RebelDo Fest 2021 street poster: “WHAT IF … we could all become Time Rebels?The relationship between learning and doing experiments on the High Street is even more magical when that learning-doing is a shared experience enriched by many different perspectives all coming together to reflect, ask good questions, really listen to each other, and be curious about shared insights. So it has been a joy to collate some early stage notes from a shared enquiry amongst Dudley Time Rebels about the experience, values, connections, behaviours, platform infrastructure, processes and evolution of practice in their rebellion journey so far.Some context for these seeds of curiosityTo begin… Read More