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

- Lorna Prescott
Let’s pick up our pencils and redraw the world together

Invitation from Civic SquareWe have an amazing opportunity in Dudley to be part of the very beginning of an enquiry connecting artists, designers, economists, ecologists, gardeners, teachers, neighbours and many more to redesign and get to the heart of new economic possibilities for our high streets, towns and neighbourhoods.We are seeking renegade neighbourhood economists; people who live, work or play in Dudley and are curious about economics fit for the 21st century. Economic ideas which are focused on meeting the needs of all people within the means of the living planet.🍩 Introducing Doughnut Economics“People can get scared of economics, but nobody is scared of a doughnut!” — Kate Raworth, author of Doughnut Economics.The doughnut she is talking about:offers a vision of what it means for humanity to thrive in the 21st century — and Doughnut Economics explores… Read More

- Dudley Time Rebels
Creative responses to Dudley People’s Archive

David O’Coy is a magazine publisher who has been experimenting with Dudley People’s Archive and associated participatory and creative collaborations. As he brings the project towards its evaluation stage he has been reflecting on the surprising outcomes of developing the work during lockdowns.This is part 2 of 3 lab notes: In part 2 David looks at the creative collaborations alongside the care and attention taken to reinterpreting the submitted works by the creatives involved.What if… we can learn from our stories of the past to shape our present and future.A slower approach — cultural anthropologyGrowing up in Dudley explores and celebrates Dudley’s rich heritage and vibrant present through people’s photography and stories. We are using the project to celebrate the rich tapestry of life in the town, through social movements, subcultures and styles… Read More

- Lorna Prescott
Some alternatives to Dudley’s Business As Usual and Blah Blah Blah

Artwork at Civic Square Open Studio during Co-Creation Week #2. Photo taken by me on 7 Nov 2021On Friday Greta Thunberg spoke at the #FridaysForFuture protest, describing COP26 as a “two week long celebration of business as usual and blah, blah, blah.”body[data-twttr-rendered="true"] {background-color: transparent;}.twitter-tweet {margin: auto !important;} — @Reutersfunction notifyResize(height) {height = height ? height : document.documentElement.offsetHeight; var resized = false; if (window.donkey && donkey.resize) {donkey.resize(height);resized = true;}if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var obj = {iframe: window.frameElement, height: height}; parent._resizeIframe(obj); resized = true;}if (window.location && window.location.hash === "#amp=1" && window.parent && window.parent.postMessage) {window.parent.postMessage({sentinel: "amp", type: "embed-size", height: height}, "*");}if (window.webkit && window.webkit.messageHandlers && window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize) {window.webkit.messageHandlers.resize.postMessage(height); resized = true;}return resized;}twttr.events.bind('rendered', function (event) {notifyResize();}); twttr.events.bind('resize', function (event) {notifyResize();});if (parent && parent._resizeIframe) {var maxWidth = parseInt(window.frameElement.getAttribute("width")); if ( 500 < maxWidth) {window.frameElement.setAttribute("width", "500");}}In the run up to COP26… Read More