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Design Trends 2020

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 Our Graphic designer extraordinaire, Nathan Jackson, has shared with us the global design trends for 2020. Here’s what he has said:

“A new year doesn’t mean we throw out what we learnt in 2019, it’s a continuation of design trends from previous years that evolve as the year progresses.

 As with last year when using illustration, the trend seems to be flat illustrations with thin or no stroke outline. Emphasis on illustrations that over-exaggerate body part sizes, which is portrayed with smaller heads, longer body parts, wide hips and small feet. The characters almost look comical but serve a purpose as we are intrigued by what the character looks like and make us think of a time when we were much younger.

 Isometric illustrations have been trending for many years and are unlikely to go away anytime soon. They are often used for infographics.

 The use of image and text masking is something that I do a lot of myself and in 2020 it will continue to be a design trend as it’s quite easy to do yet has a striking effect.

Patterns and textures was a trend that became quite popular in 2019, more so in Fashion design as brands such as Gorman has pushed other brands at the start of 2020 to become more daring.

These are just some of the trends that I used last year but the list of trends is quite long.”

 Thanks for sharing Nathan. We can’t wait to see all your designs this year. 

Colours

Pantone colour for 2020 is Classic Blue, which I was surprised by as previous years have been much more exciting. Using the colour of the year in designs is important because it’s a colour that has been researched based on current and past trends within all aspects of design: fashion, interior, social media, marketing and graphic design.

Choosing colours depends on the project and existing brand palettes. Where I have the flexibility and creative licence to chose the colours I will include Classic Blue for more professional designs and corporate events. Similar to when working with the Loddon Shire Council where we worked with young people for that project, I used the 2019 Pantone colour of the year Living Coral, as it represented youth.

Making our work visual appealing is important because we often set up in bright, colourful places like an event, public space or market and we need to stand out against these colourful backgrounds. Use of attractive colours also inspires interest and creativity in people, and often we are looking for creative responses to ideas or potential dilemmas.

 Styles I will be exploring this year

At the end of last year I created isometric illustrations  to easily display larger amounts of data, using this for some infographics, I believe this is a great way to show information as it makes sharing information more interesting as you can show a picture of a specific point of a subject. The audience can tell what a subject is about without having to read the heading.

 In 2020 I’d like to experiment with more over-exaggerated body parts as it’s more on trend and it’s a different style of illustration compared to what I’ve used in previous projects which are more simple. I’d like to select and perfect a style that I’m happy to use through-out the year and alter depending on what is needed.

 A lot can be done with patterns so I think that this year I will continue where I left off at the end of last year and be more adventurous with patterns. I’ll find inspiration in other mediums of design, like fashion and interior to aid in the projects I do.”

Lock it In, Haydie! Meet our new Recruit, Find out about Heart Projects and More..

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“I like looking at what the community wants out of a project and turning those concepts into something useable and ergonomic yet inspired and enjoyable,’’  says Haydn

 

 

Meet Haydn Lock

Our Architecture and Building Design Guru

When it comes to all things architecture and drafting, Haydn Lock is our go to at Conversation Caravan.

Our Spatial Conceptualist as we like to call him, has a Bachelor of Architectural Design from Monash University and certificates 3 & 4 in Building Design, plus many great ideas.

Conversation Caravan director Cindy Plowman headhunted Haydn for what is his first job in the industry.

So far he was worked on several projects including the Box Hill Transport Strategy and the Doveton Pool Masterplan.

Haydn said the best part of the job has been working with the community.

“I like looking at what the community wants out of a project and turning those concepts into something useable and ergonomic yet inspired and enjoyable,’’ Hayden said.

“I enjoy every stage of the project, from putting ideas together to the design and concept.’’

Haydn specialises in programmatic diagrams, which is effectively freehand diagrammatic drawing by architects that is used for space planning and organisation in the early stages of the design process.

He is also heavily involved in the ideas and data analysis stages of the project.

Cindy said he is an important part of the Conversation Caravan team.

“Haydn is highly motivated to find meaningful experience and results in the projects he tackles,’’ she said.

“Haydn seeks to continue to develop his abilities for the betterment of himself and the communities he is fortunate enough to work with.’’

Why Helping The Community Makes Our Heart Beat Strong

Did you know Conversation Caravan works with eligible community groups and not for profit organisations for free?

It’s called our Heart Projects, where we work with the groups to provide advice relating to research, facilitation or engagement with their members and clients.

One such project we are involved with at the moment is Willow Lodge Bowls Club at Bangholme, south east of Melbourne.

The club is based within a retirement village of about 500 residents and they reached out to us to help attract more members and retain competitive bowlers. Willow Lodge Bowls Club spokeswoman Maureen Atwell said the club currently has 26 members plus social memberships, but they can’t always field enough competitive teams.

“Our club and the greens are beautiful and we’d like more members so that the club has an even better atmosphere and social calendar,’’ she said. “It will be interesting to know why people aren’t joining. We think that it is their health getting in the way, but we are not sure.’’

Conversation Caravan distributed a survey to all households at Willow Lodge to gauge their interest in the lawn bowls club and find out why some members have left and what would encourage new members to join. The data was then used to create an action plan for the club.

“Most of us have joined the bowls club because of our love of bowling, not because we want to run an organisation. It’s good to get some help and fresh eyes,’’ Ms Atwell said.

Conversation Caravan director Cindy Plowman introduced Heart Projects as she is passionate about helping community groups. “Community groups and not for profit organisations usually have the people to implement ideas, but not necessary the time or expertise to set the direction,’’ she said. “It also useful to have a second opinion, from an organisation that has experience in community related fields and is impartial to the individuals within a club or group, and the daily issues faced.’’

For further information and to apply, visit our website https://caravan.conversationco.com.au/heart-projects/

*  images sourced from Willow Lodge Bowls Club Facebook Page

The Story Behind Our Props

When you work in the community engagement business, you need to stand out from the crowd.

One thing we love and do well at Conversation Caravan is a good prop.

It’s no surprise that our travelling caravan ‘April’ is a conversation starter but did you know we have other eye catching inventions?

Our newest is the Splash Zone, which was used at the YMCA Doveton Pool project and was a hit with families, grandparents and children alike.

Conversation Caravan director Cindy Plowman is the brains behind the props and her husband Drew brings them to life.

“You want people to take interest, then you need to make it look interesting and attractive but not so polished that they don’t feel welcome. It’s a balance,’’ according to Cindy.

“Sometimes by using a prop you are going to exclude a whole generation – oldies that think it’s too cool, or youngies that think it’s not cool enough. So you have to plan to attract these audience other ways.’’

Also among our expanding collection is the house, a super practical prop that creates a space for reflection. There is also the cube, a simple design that is light and extremely useful.

But Cindy says it’s the caravan which has proven to be the crowd favourite so far.

“Younger people associate it with events, families with holidaying and oldies with travelling around Australia. We hear so many times “I was only coming across to look at your van!” We say While you are here!’’

So Cindy, what’s your next creation?

“I want to create a recharge station for people to recharge their mind and their electronic devices. That is also a little green with outdoor plants and a space to sit that is kind of separate from us as well.’’

Watch this space.

 

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More than my accent

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Accents are a part of us. We get them once we start learning to speak. The type of accent that we have is largely dictated by the languages that we grow up speaking. As this is directly tied to our backgrounds, accents end up becoming a part of our identity.

Does our accent define us?

Accents vary depending on our backgrounds. Growing up in Kenya, I got used to many accents. The country has 42 tribes that all speak a different language. As children, we used to make fun of people with thick accents who couldn’t properly pronounce words. People from my tribe, for example, run the risk of mixing up ‘l’ and ‘r’ depending on where they were raised because the letter ‘l’ is not in our vocabulary. It’s was never that serious, though, because we can all understand each other. It just sounds odd.

As an adult, I never thought much about my accent or about being misunderstood until I got to Australia and had cases where people couldn’t understand me when I talked.

Accents can form the basis of bias. Australia is a diverse country with people from all over the world living in it. Not many countries can boast of that. People can freely exchange cultures, learn new things and even overcome biases they previously had. It’s an intriguing experience for some who value these interactions. However, sometimes, differing accents can become a language barrier. It can be a pain going to work and not being able to understand workmates, especially if the work to be done is collaborative in nature. I’ve been to work at times and had cases where I talked to people and they didn’t understand me. I’d have to repeat myself, sometimes more than once. Other times, I was the one who could not understand.

Accents are a part of us. We get them once we start learning to speak. The type of accent that we have is largely dictated by the languages that we grow up speaking. As this is directly tied to our backgrounds, accents end up becoming a part of our identity.

Does our accent define us?

Accents vary depending on our backgrounds. Growing up in Kenya, I got used to many accents. The country has 42 tribes that all speak a different language. As children, we used to make fun of people with thick accents who couldn’t properly pronounce words. People from my tribe, for example, run the risk of mixing up ‘l’ and ‘r’ depending on where they were raised because the letter ‘l’ is not in our vocabulary. It’s was never that serious, though, because we can all understand each other. It just sounds odd.

As an adult, I never thought much about my accent or about being misunderstood until I got to Australia and had cases where people couldn’t understand me when I talked.

Accents can form the basis of bias. Australia is a diverse country with people from all over the world living in it. Not many countries can boast of that. People can freely exchange cultures, learn new things and even overcome biases they previously had. It’s an intriguing experience for some who value these interactions. However, sometimes, differing accents can become a language barrier. It can be a pain going to work and not being able to understand workmates, especially if the work to be done is collaborative in nature. I’ve been to work at times and had cases where I talked to people and they didn’t understand me. I’d have to repeat myself, sometimes more than once. Other times, I was the one who could not understand.

Are we missing opportunities for social interaction?

After a while it started to affect my confidence. Having an accent can bring out people’s biases. Beliefs about a person’s level of education, their financial status and even societal views. In a world that is turning into a global village where anyone can live anywhere (Australia is a big example of that) are we comfortable making a large portion of the population feeling inadequate? Of course not. Mostly, the biases are unconscious and don’t harm the subjects. Other times they manifest in the decisions we make about them and could even result in racial prejudice. Sometimes, biases lead to missed social opportunities for interactions and, at times, even professional opportunities. How many times have we been in situations where we wrote people off because of how they speak?

The result of the biases can vary. In some cases, people choose to change their accents (like I tried). It takes a lot of practice and usually leads to a confessed loss of cultural identity. In rare cases, people go back to their home countries where they feel they can fit in. I’ve seen examples of both cases. In the spirit of promoting multiculturalism, it is imperative to check our biases towards foreign communities, particularly those with strong accents. Part of that is looking back at how we treat people with different accents and put steps in place to reduce and overcome language barriers.

Our top 10 tips for bringing out the best in each other:

  • Be patient. If it helps, think about the last time you learnt a new language.
  • Use simple English (it doesn’t mean you can speak loudly or speak in broken English like Irene from Home and Away) avoid jargons as well.
  • Tap into the other senses – use visual prompts and cues to support your communication.
  • Connect on other levels, where appropriate talk about family, hobbies or food. Areas where you can both become comfortable speaking to each other.
  • Make the other person feel comfortable (use whatever is most appropriate for you):
    • Reassure the person to take their time
    • Use humour to acknowledges their uniqueness (only use where appropriate) “Your English is better than my Vietnamese”
    • Point out your personal communication challenges to normalise differences “let me know if I speak too fast”.
  • Engage a translator, If the topic is complex in nature it might make it easier and more comfortable for the individual to participate.
  • Seek clarification and encourage others to seek clarification; be specific with what you need reexplaining.
  • Be authentic in speech. Faking an accent can distort your words an make them harder to understand than originally.
  • Slow down while talking. This helps to deliver words as clearly as possible by enabling listeners to pick out individual words from the conversation.
  • Learn proper pronunciations of words where necessary. This doesn’t require changing an accent. A small difference in pronunciation can have large effects in communication.

For more support and resources please check out:

Good, Good Vibrations

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Get that good vibe feeling after a team briefing session

Don’t let those months of planning, meeting with stakeholders and developing research questions go to waste with an improper briefing session of your engagement staff and helpers.

Its engagement day. Everything has come together, your activity stations are set up, your Facebook posts are already drawing a crowd and you’re ready to go, but are your helpers? It can be tempting to skip the briefing and jump into it.

As tempting as it is, don’t be lured into opening shop early. Conversation Caravan puts the time in to making sure any helpers and staff are confident and comfortable in their role to create engaging conversations.

We all know how things run so much smoother when everyone knows what is expected of them and what to expect during the shift. There are various steps we put into place to ensure this is achieved.

Before the pop up begins

Provide written details on the project, providing staff time to learn about the project. When staff have background information on the project they feel more comfortable engaging and discussing it with the target group. This develops a staff member’s confidence within the project.

This might include:

  • Engagement Plan
  • Activity Plan
  • Details of the event.

We are only human and the more information provided such as parking and transport options makes it easier for staff to arrive relaxed and ready to begin on time. Dates, times, locations and uniform details should be provided leading up to the shift.

Directly before the shift

Move staff away from the pop up and the pressure of the public eye. You want to create an environment where people can get to know each other and ask any final questions.

  • Introduce your helpers to one another, providing some information about each member and any roles or information relevant to the project. This builds opportunities for further discussion between the project team and other helpers.
  • Provide basic details such as location of amenities and where they can store personal items. This allows staff to feel considered and part of the team.
  • Familiarise staff with activities or stations that are set up and explain key goals and desired information/data outcomes.
  • Seek clarification that everyone is up to date on the project. Provide opportunities for people to ask questions so they don’t feel rushed or unsure of the outcomes required.

Manage your own emotions

Accept and encourage input and maintain a positive attitude. It is important to draw on the experience of your staff, allow them to suggest ways in which a station or activity may run better or flow easier. Despite any challenges that may arise, maintain a positive ‘can do’ attitude and lead your staff to do the same.

Remember, with a structured briefing all staff can arrive prepared, on time, feeling confident and ready to get the most out of the target audience. It also provides a calm positive experience.

This blog post was written by Conversation Caravan’s Engagement Consultant Kate Wilby. Kate specialised in youth planning and engagement.

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Preparing Yourself for Work in the Community

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I believe you can find a profession tailored to your personality. I’m an interactive person who loves to hang out with other people and make new friends. With that mindset, I find professions that put me directly in the line of interaction with people to be enjoyable.

Dennis - Conversation Caravan

While workplace bullying and harassment is not acceptable, Dennis shares what he does to build rapport and maintain a calm environment in the face of anger and personal attack. For Dennis, leaving people professions isn’t an option, so he needed to find other ways to control the situation and adapt his style.

Dennis was born in Kenya and came to Australia as an international student. While he couldn’t find employment in his original field of study, he found employment as a disability support worker. This, coupled with experience from voluntary Sunday school and working as an educational support person, opened up his eyes and doors to working with people.

In addition to working as an educational support person, Dennis works as a conversation facilitator with Conversation Caravan. He enjoys both experiences because of the interaction with people and the difference he can make. Dennis speaks to us about why he loves doing what he does:

Professions come in all shapes and sizes

I believe you can find a profession tailored to your personality. I’m an interactive person who loves to hang out with other people and make new friends. With that mindset, I find professions that put me directly in the line of interaction with people to be enjoyable. When one works in a field like that long enough, however, a tough reality hits home eventually; human beings aren’t always nice.

I have had a few instances where insults, belittling comments and physical abuse were no longer the stories of my colleagues, but they became my reality. In Australia, 22% of workers have attested to getting insulted or harassed by clients. It’s not to say that the jobs with people are less rewarding, however one experience like this has the potential to not only ruin your whole day, or even a night, but it can have the potential to damage your self-esteem.

I enjoy working with people and the more I work in the field the more I’ve learnt to adapt. My training is in the field of statistics. I crunched numbers, letters and equations for four years during my undergraduate study. I did a couple of internships in the statistical field. However, outside of school, most of my jobs were people-oriented.

Having now found theses professions with people, I am not about to give up. Here are my tips (particularly for anyone that is not from Australia) to prepare yourself for a career with people.

Set your own personal boundaries:

One thing that I’ve grappled with is the amount of freedom students in Australia get to express themselves. In my country, the teacher was king. Everyone jumped at their command. Even parents rarely questioned their direction. In Australia, most students know there are rules to follow. However, teachers are much more relatable compared to mine in my country. As a result, students will talk to them like they’re friends. In higher needs schools the freedom also extended to rudeness and physical assault.

Boundaries are not a call to be rigid with people. They’re what stopped me from being a doormat. I’ve found people to be more inclined to respect boundaries that I set and I don’t have to suffer avoidable uncomfortable situations at work. Consider what behaviour is and isn’t acceptable to you. Make sure you express this when working with people and tell them respectfully when/if they cross one of your boundaries. Consistency with boundaries, I’ve found, works well.

Don’t rely on your good looks or charm:

When I started my job as an educational support, I (wrongly) assumed that personality was all that was needed to work with people. However just like statistics, there’s a lot to learn and a lot of variation. After a particularly bad day at school, I needed to learn how to calm down an enraged student; and learn how to motivate students to do their school work. This experience taught me to respect the skills and experience needed to work with people. Now, rather than relying on my personality, I ensure I have a full understanding of the situation, shadow other experienced staff, ask lots of questions and do lots of research in my own time.

Take time to meet the people and assess the situation:

In statistics there’s no such thing as too much data. When I go to schools, teachers regularly have class notes for casual staff that I use to orient myself with the class. I also ask the students I am working with how they would like to work with me, within the allowable constraints. Taking the time to get to know people will make your life smoother. It also makes them feel valued and helps to build relations with them.

Be a lifelong learner:

I’m always looking for opportunities to learn and I’ll be happy to receive any other useful tips. I enjoy reading blogs, watching other people’s styles and learning through on-the-job training. Learning is about more than just reading books. It’s about getting out there and giving it your best shot. It’s not always a smooth day, but working with people can be very rewarding. With the right attitude and preparation, it’s almost like getting paid to have a hobby.

Making Social Media More Effective?

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Last week I was lucky enough to attend the Engage2Act UnConference held in Melbourne. In true Community Engagement style, as delegates we set our own agenda for the day. Over 30 people submitted ideas and nominated themselves to run a session, we voted and selected the sessions we wanted to attend. (If you did this at any other conference, I’m sure all you would hear is crickets but let’s not forget the theme was ‘highly engaged’).

I participated in a really interesting session about social media’s use as an engagement tool. Social media has traditionally been used as a way to drive engagement into more structured channels so I was interested to hear more about its use as a tool.

City of Melbourne commissioned a small study as a result of being overwhelmed with comments on Facebook regarding one of their draft strategies. The huge level of interest was deemed engagement on the strategy (by some) as being hugely successful. Others involved in the project were not as convinced in the value or usefulness of the comments.

The study compared input from their online engagement platform (Participate Melbourne) with the comments made on Facebook posts. The study found the Facebook comments, while huge in number, were not as valuable as the online platform (see photo of summary).

Having worked in Local Government, this was not a great surprise when thinking about the most common social media comments received. Most social media posts are outwardly focused, or directed at other social media users rather than a contribution to the topic at hand. There is also no simple way of gaining demographic or other data about those people making the comments.

A statement that stood out to me was someone in the session likening Facebook comments to people that walk past a pop-up session, don’t necessarily want to participate in formal engagement channels yet yell things at you (“My rates are too high!” or “Stop wasting my money!”). You could almost call it drive-by engagement.

The challenge for engagement practitioners is how to harness the interest gained (and people wanting to make a quick comment) via social media in a more meaningful way. I know I would love to be engaged more via social media, it would be a welcome break from watching videos about pandas.  What are your thoughts and idea?