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This is the archive site of Global Sustainability Jam 2011-2018. From 2019 on please visit

What's a Jam?


Each year in Autumn, people interested in a design-based approach to creativity will meet at locations all over the globe.

Everyone is welcome - service designers, object designers, sustainability experts, professors, business people, teachers, hackers, makers, artists, students, kids, mums and grandpas - you will form teams and work together for 48 hours to create brand-new real-world ideas which can make that little difference.

Or perhaps a big difference - it's up to you.

Through the weekend, you'll be linked to other jammers at other sites all over the globe, working in different ways on different answers to the same challenge, sharing problems, advice, and insights. And on Sunday at 3pm, you will publish your results to the world.

Join us at the Global Sustainability Jam.

What a Jam is...

Imagine a Jam session in music. You come together, bringing your instruments, your skills, your open mind.  Someone sets up a theme, and you start to Jam around it. You don't overanalyse it, you don't discuss it to death, you Jam. You bounce your ideas off other people, and play around with what comes back. Together, you build something which none of you could have built alone. And at the same time, you are learning new ideas, discovering more about how you work and whom you best work with, sharpening your skills, and having a great time. And who knows, maybe there are one or two ideas there which might make it to the next album. Or maybe you Jammed so well, you decide to form a band...

The Global Sustainability Jam works in just the same way. But it's not music you are Jamming - it's ideas. You'll be working with people you might never have met before, bouncing ideas off one another and building on what bounces back. And it's not just talking - you are here to turn your ideas into a concrete design or plan of action which you or somebody else might want to make real. Perhaps it will be a service, a physical device, an initiative, a network, or something no-one has thought of yet - can you describe and plan it in a way that someone could go out and make it real, knowing what resources they would need, what they should do, and who they should talk to?  That's the challenge of the Jam.

What a Jam isn't... 

We love conferences. But a Jam isn't one of those. You are not here to lecture, or to listen, or just talk (though some local Jams might include some theory input). You are here to work together, to design and plan something which has the potential to become real.

We love networking groups and "design drinks". But a Jam isn't one of those. You're not here to show off your skills, to chat about what's happening in your field (although those things might happen). You'll be making contacts and sharing knowledge in the best possible way - by actually working through ideas, plans and problems together.

We love discussion groups, barcamps and unconferences . But a Jam isn't one of those. Although the Jam might be free form, there is a clear goal for the weekend - finished designs and plans which have the potential to become real, and which will be published to the world at the end of the weekend.

What will be created at the Jam...

That's really up to you.

Our basic field for this event is "sustainability", but we will give you a specific Theme on the Friday night which we hope will inspire and challenge you. (This is why it's important not to bring an idea to the Jam - instead, let ideas happen when you are there).  As soon as you have the Theme, you can get busy...

The Jam was initiated by service designers, so some of us will be thinking about new services from the point of view of sustainability - perhaps designing new services to help people be more sustainable.

But you might be more interested in creating objects, or networks, or initatives, or something we have not thought of yet. Whatever your interest, we are sure you will find a place for it.

Perhaps the most exciting possibility is to work in a mixed team combining all these interests...


What happens on the Jam weekend - the global beat

Every Jam is different, but they all Jam to the same basic beat:


[Fri. 2 November]

The Jam participants come together at worldwide locations prepared by local organisers (see footnote 1). Some Jams might have an input session of lectures or presentations - perhaps on sustainability issues, or the design process.


[Fri. 2 November, not before 6.30 pm local]

The global Theme and achievements (optional goals) for the Jam are presented (see footnote 2).  Discussion in informal groups.  Dinner is a good idea.

The local Jam might come together for the pitching session.  Anyone can present their basic idea, groups form, and participants join the group that interests them (see note 1).


[Fri. 2 November, about 10pm local] until  [Sun. 4 November, exactly 3pm local]

The groups work independently over the weekend, supported by Mentors and Specialist Providers in some locations.  Research or observations are performed virtually, or through short excursions. The teams develop their idea and design, and prototype it using whatever methods they choose. Prototypes are improved through cycles of iteration. Sleep is optional, but recommended.

Local Jams are in contact globally through social media, wormholes, carrier pigeons or whatever else we set up. Share, exchange, inspire. But remember - it is deeply Cheesy and Uncool to communicate the themes to teams to the West of you. For a level playing field, themes are announced at LOCAL time...


[Sun. 4 November, exactly 3pm local]

The teams deliver documentation of a working prototype (see footnote 3) of their design or idea.  This can be a film of human interaction, photos of a mock-up, a dummy website, or anything else that provides a permanent, publishable record of their idea and work. These are uploaded and published for the world under Creative Commons licensing.


[Sun. 4 November, about 4pm local]

After publishing, we suggest that the teams present their results to the other local teams.  Perhaps there could be some symbolic prizes...

After that, teams can sit back, kick back, enjoy a well-earned beverage and browse through the global results. Or they can get busy supporting teams further to the west...



Timing footnotes:

Footnote 1. This time is a suggestion. You can move this time as you like.

Footnote 2. This is the EARLIEST allowed time.  You can do this later if you like, but NOT earlier.

Footnote 3. This is a precise time for all Jams.