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

Frequently asked questions

Awesome, but is this only for hipster designers and tree-huggers?

No. You anyone can take part. You just need to be interested in creating things, and have an open, enquiring mind.

You might be a student, a service designer, a business person, an object designer, a sustainability expert, unemployed, a professor, a teacher, a hacker, a maker, a cook, an artist, a mum, a grandpa or a kid.

Also, we said "sustainability", but we didn't say "green". You might be interested in the environment - that's cool - or you might be more interested in social sustainability, financial sustainability, sustainable business models.... or something else.

But why should I participate?

As a participant in the Global Sustainability Jam, you will work through a whole development process in one weekend. You won't just be talking about design or sustainability, you will be working with others on developing concrete ideas and designs which could become real.

  • Whether you are experienced or completely new to the field, you will learn more about a design-based approach to problems, and about sustainability.
  • You will pick up a load of new ideas and work practices.
  • You will meet a lot of cool people at all levels of experience.
  • Your work and ideas will be reviewed by your peers, and presented to the world, where they can be seen by potential customers or employers, or by people who could make them real.
  • You will create something that might make a real difference.
  • You might get rich and famous.
  • You will certainly have a blast.

Can you say more about what will we actually create 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...

Cool, so where is my nearest Jam?

Check out the "Locations" page as soon as the next jam gets rolling. 

Fine, but if I participate, what must I do?

Read the rules for participants at the FAQ. Basically, they say:

  • Sign up in advance at the location of your choice. Here is a list of the locations so far.
  • People are alrerady talking about the Jam, so you could follow the Jam on Twitter (@GSusJam and #GSusJ11) and on Facebook.
  • Show up on time.
  • Bring any special tools you need.
  • Do not bring a team or an idea. These will form at the Jam. 
  • Do not bring pre-made content. The ideas developed at the Jam should be new. 
  • Work together in a spirit of conversation and co-operation.
  • Be prepared to share the results of your work under a Creative Commons license.
  • Have fun!

Grrr! There's no Jam in my area! What should I do?

  • Option 1: Hey, you're a pioneer! Let us know you're interested, and we'll help you find other people in your area. Better still - why not become a local organiser and start this in your region? Learn more here.
  • Option 2: Travel! Seeing the world and meeting new people gives you the chance to learn even more. Check the list of locations again for a suitable region.


Hmm. Why should I be a local organiser?

As a local Jam organiser, you will host a great weekend, helping others learn about a design-based approach to creativity and problem solving, and about sustainability issues.
  • You will have great freedom to organise and shape your local jam as you wish, as long as a few basic guidelines are observed.
    You will meet people from your region who are interested in a design-based approach and in sustainability, and you will work closely with them.
  • You will be in contact with other organisers globally, all of whom will be worth knowing.
  • You will pick up a load of new ideas and work practices.
  • You will meet a lot of cool people at all levels of experience.
  • You will have the opportunity to showcase your own experience, interests and ideas with participants and the press.
  • You will not get rich (the Global Sustainability Jam is non-profit), but you might get famous(er).
  • You will certainly have a blast.


I'm interested in being a host, so what does a local organiser have to do?

 Read the rules for local organisers at the end of the FAQ. In essence, they say you will need to:

  • Look for and eventually set up a suitable location for the Jam (workspace, connectivity, physical requirements, sponsorship if you want)
  • Name your Jam after your city or town, or give it a neutral name; don't name it after your region or country...
  • Be open to everyone.
  • Handle registrations and participant lists (this can be as simple as a Facebook or eventbrite page...)
  • Be part of the organisers' community.
  • Be non-profit. (This includes: don't see the Jam as an advertising vehicle for your company. Be useful, be cool, be present. That's enough advertising.)
  • During the Jam, do not communicate the themes to any Jam in a timezone which does not know them yet... This is Deeply Cheesy, as themes are announced at local times. Be helpful but be secretive.
  • Police the rules, keep the deadlines.
  • Publicise your event, and publish the results.
  • Have fun!

Of course, there is NO CHARGE to be a host. Hey, without you, there would be no Jam...


YES! I want to try to host a Jam! How do I become an official local organiser?

Simply shoot us an email marked "I want to host!" to, tell us who you are, where you are located and we take it from there!

(You don't need to have your rooms booked yet, your webpage set up or anything else - just be ready to try! Your first task will probably be gathering names, to see how big your Jam might get.  We think you'll find it useful to set up some kind of regisitration or group administration - maybe a dedicated webpage if you are a web ninja, or a mailing list, Facebook page, Yahoo Group or whatever if you are not. You can expand your online presence later....)


Hmm... I'm interested in the Jam, but not yet ready to be an organiser. What can I do?

If you want to participate in a jam locally, but are not ready to commit to hosting, that's no problem. Tell us, and we can list you as "interested" for your region. The more people sign up, the easier it becomes to get a Jam rolling!

Just shoot us an email marked "I'm interested!" to, tell us who you are, where you are located and we take it from there!

I'm interested in being a local host; what support will I receive?

Your Jam is your Jam, and you are free to shape it as you like - but there is no need to reinvent the wheel.  There is a wide community of experienced hosts who are happy to help you, and who have built up a library of tools, documents and datafiles which you can adapt to your Jam.  They are also happy to give advice and experience.

Hosts share ideas, advice and tools on a closed online platform called the Basecamp. We recommend that each Jam have at least one person (two or more is better) on the Basecamp.

The community of Jammers has also produced an Organisers' Handbook which is a great resource for Hosts. It will help you set up a Jam, and make sure your Jam feels like rock and roll. Ask for a copy!


Let's talk locations. What makes a good Jam location? When should we book it?

A Jam needs a physical location, organised by the host, where the Jam takes place. It might be an office, university, sports hall, appartment, boat, tent or taxicab. It will need enough space to host the Jam, sufficient heat, light, power, connectivity, some physical comforts and toilets. It would be good if food were available nearby - from a supermarket, restaurant or pizza guy, or even organised by the host. It will need to be accessible (or partly accessible) for the whole 48 hours* - the Jam is a global event, and the buzz goes round the clock.

If you want to encourage Jammers to make prototypes of physical things, you might want to have part of the space where they can make a mess, play with glue, use a hammer...

You do not need to find your location before you agree to host the Jam, but it might be a good idea to have some ideas for different sized spaces. When you see how many people your Jam attracts, you can decide which one to use.

* Note: If you cannot find a Jam location that is open around the clock, don't panic - this will not disqualify your Jam. However, experience shows that a 24-hour-open location is preferable, especially for larger Jams.

My team is thinking on focussing the Jam on one particular issue or project. Is that cool?

Every Jam should be open for any ideas under the overarching theme "sustainability".  Remember,  "Do not bring ... an idea. These will form at the Jam."

So if someone is interested in a particular issue or project, they should go to a Jam, combine their interest with the Secret Theme to make an amazing new idea, pitch it, and hope a team forms.  Or they should join a Team addressing a similar issue. Or they should shrug their shoulders and join something completely different which is also cool in some way.

A Jam which is set up to specifically address a certain issue or project, or which is set up by a group who specifically want to work together, is not truly open to all people and all ideas, so it breaks the rule above. It's a mighty, wonderful and cool thing in itself, but it's a workgroup, not a Jam. Do it the weekend after.  :)

To follow the music metaphor, going along to an open stage with a your musician friends and a decision to only play Stones songs is not jamming, it's a public rehearsal.

So, no themed Jams please.

OK, so are all local Jams the same?

Local organisers have a lot of freedom to shape and run the Jam, and to decide the local look and feel (a simple example: local Jams are encouraged to to create local versions of the logo). Participants chose their project, choose thier team, and have full freedom to decide on the methods they use. They also decide on the form of their final upload.

All Jams will follow the same rules and be inspired by the same themes. The rest is up to you.

Right, so how big is a Jam?

A jam will need to be at least one team. We think that means a minimum size of about five people, but you might prove us wrong.

The more teams, the more fun. About fifteen or twenty people seems to be a nice size for a small Jam.

There is no upper limit to the size of a Jam. Similar events have been successful with 250 people at one location - it depends on the site, and the local organisation.

Seems like a good opportunity for me to advertise my services or agency, right?

Yes and no.

If you are an organiser, we think the best way to advertise yourself is by being useful, being present, and being you. We think it's cool if, for example, a Jam is held in an agency office, and the agency people really get involved.  But we don't think it's cool if any local Jam is heavily "branded" by the organisers.  We think a "AGENCYNAME Jam" would be deeply cheesy - a Jam is supposed to be open, and plastering our logo everywhere would only make other agency guests uncomfortable.

You're a host, so think of it as a party. Would you write your name on every wall?

Banners, balloons, bowls of visiting cards - OK.  But from your sponsors (if they insist), not from the host.

Please do not put your agency's name or branding in your Jam's name or logo.  It is great to show your own branding somewhere with your sponsors' branding, but please not in the logo area or name. Your logo might reflect your town, your country or anything you like, but not your commercial brand.  Keep the Jam open please! Thanks!

So, what is the theme for the Jam?

Shhh!  That's a secret!

Of course, the overarching theme of the Jam is Sustainability - but there will be a special Secret Theme for the weekend too.  This Secret Theme will carefully chosen by representatives of the worldwide organising team, and kept Top Secret until it is announced on the Friday evening (local time) in each location.

We expect the Theme will be quite abstract, to allow a wide range of practical applications, depending on the participants' interests.

Here's an example from the Global Service Jam -  a sister event to the Global Sustainability Jam, but one which creates only services.  Last year, it had the theme: "(Super)HEROES".  The participants interpreted it in many different ways, producing many different types of services based on sharing, helping, empowerment, or even super-powers.

The Global Sustainability Jam is more about tools, methods, people, ideas and exchange than any particular field of application.

Stop! Imposter! Someone is trying to host another Jam in my country/city/building! What do I do?

There is no geographic exclusivity of Jams.  Anyone who wants to Host, and is willing to follow the rules, is welcome to host.

However, we think that - because the Jam is about sharing - bigger Jams are cooler than smaller Jams.  So if two Jams are happening very close together, the obvious question is "why?"

Cool reasons for having two Jams close together are:

  • we tried, but can't find a venue big enough to house us all
  • we already booked one venue, and can't cancel
  • our location is way too cool to give up, but we have more people than we can fit in
  • we may look close together, but the distance between us is significant for some local market reason like transport connections, zombie infestations, etc
  • we really, honestly believe small jams work better

Horrible cheesy reasons for two jams in the same place are:

  • we want to be exclusive
  • we don't like the other people
  • we want to work in a certain way or on a certain theme (well, that's not cheesy, but it's not Jamming either)

But at the end, it's up to each local host to deside if they go it alone, or merge with the neighbours. If you go it alone, we hope you will communicate and cooperate in every way!

What are THE RULES?

(Rules version 4.Aug.2011)

Rules Background

A Sustainability Jam is a cooperative gathering of people interested in a design-based approach to creativity and problem solving, and of course in sustainability issues.  It is there to encourage experimentation and innovation – participants come together without a team, without an idea and are given a subject or theme to incorporate in their new-to-the-world design while meeting new people.

The Global Sustainability Jam is a community of Jams taking place internationally over the same weekend. All the Jams share the same starting themes, and publish their local results over a central platform. The theme and constraints for participants in the Global Sustainability Jam will be announced at 5:00PM (local time) on the Friday, and results must be shared by 3:00pm (local time) on the Sunday.

Each local group has freedom to structure and manage the Jam to fit their local situation and needs (eg you can make your own version of the logo, see below).  A few rules are in place for Organisers and Participants; if you want your Jam to be part of the Global event, you will need to follow these. Besides these rules, we hope that local teams will follow many of our recommendations so that we share a common experience and everyone can work on a level playing field.

Rules for organizers

To add your location to the official list of Global Service Jam sites, you will need to agree to the following set of rules:

·          Be open

            The event must be open to everyone – be it designers, business people, students of design or business, or anyone interested in sustainability and creative ideas.  It must also be open to the press.
            Note that "being open" also means that local Jams can not focus on a certain theme, or be branded by any organisation. See the FAQ for more details.

·          Be non-Profit

            The Global Sustainability Jam is concieved as a non-profit event. Thus, all locations are strongly encouraged to keep the cost for the participants as low as possible, so everyone – especially students and unemployed people – can afford to take part. A small fee however has proven to be efficient to make registrations more reliable (people who’ve paid usually turn up). Depending on what you offer, we’ve seen pricing for similar events range from 10 EUR to 60 EUR per person for the whole weekend (the latter also included basic supply of food).

·          Have an approved name·         
            The name of your Jam must be approved by the global organisers before you use it. There are a few restrictions (eg don't brand, don't use area or country names - see the FAQ "What should we call our Jam?" for details).

·          Be part of the organiser's community

            At least one organizer (more is better) from each location must take part in all email correspondence with the global organisers, participate in the Base Camp and make sure that all due dates and deadlines are met.

·          Be part of the global Jam community

            Keep in touch - for example on Facebook and Twitter, and remember we are all part of a global event. For example, all local Jams can use the official Global Sustainability Jam Logo, or have fun making their own local version of it. You are free to change what you like in the logo, but please keep some recognisable link to the original design.

·          Publish your event on the Global Sustainability Jam website
            All locations participating in the Global Sustainability Jam will need a profile on the Global Sustainability Jam website.

·          Handle registration and communications with your participants.
           You might want to set up a super-slick web platform, or use Facebook, or write names the back of a napkin. It's up to you.

·          Keep deadlines

            There only are a few deadlines. But these are vital for the whole concept: publish the theme and restrictions not before Friday 18:30 (local time) and close active development on Sunday 15:00 (local time, when the uploading closes).

·          Provide site contact during the jam (phone)

            The fun part of a global event is that you’re not alone but have a community to share your ideas with, or ask questions of at any time. The global team will be there for the whole 48 hours to answer your questions (or those of your participants). On the other side we need you to be reachable in case of changes to deadlines, technical problems etc.

·          Provide internet connectivity for the participants
             Many of your participants will need reasonably speedy internet connectivity, and you will need internet to keep in contact with other Jams.  Make sure you have WiFi, or enough landline plug-ins for all participants.  Sponsors might be able to help.

·          (Optional) Provide video streaming from your location

Rules for participants

·          Collaborate with new people
Please do not come to the Jam with a team. Everyone will have some time to think and pitch an idea. Collaborate with new friends or peers you admire.

·          Be on time

            Please show up to the Jam on time.

·          Use your own tools

            Participants will use their own tools, including hardware, software, communications and stationery. If you need a computer and certain software, make sure you have it pre-loaded on your computer.

·          Sign up: individual and team

            All participants need to sign up to the Planet Jam website and add themselves, their team and their project to the project database.

·          (Optional) Be part of the conversation

            Experience shows that one of the most valuable parts of the Jam is to be part of the online community. For the global communication amongst participants we use Twitter, among other platforms. Please add #GSusJ11 to your tweets.

·          Rules on intellectual property
            All results are owned by the individual design team

            All services, ideas, art, code and concepts made during the Global Sustainability Jam are owned by the members of the team that developed them (not the local Jam or the Global organizers). This includes all aspects of intellectual property, such as patents, trademarks, designs and copyright. In the cooperative spirit of a service jam, there are often many people helping one another. All members of the team are held to standard industry practices of collaboration, including appropriate acknowledgements to parties (also in other teams) who may have contributed. The design team is free to develop their ideas commercially after the Jam, but the results of the Jam itself must be open, as below.
            All results have to be published and archived on the Global Sustainability Jam website under Creative Commons licence
All participants of the Global Sustainability Jam will allow the documentation of their service to be archived on the Global Service Jam website in the form it was submitted at the end of the jam. Participants may ask to have an update of the documents posted with notice of version information. 
All works will be licenced under Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 (
            The Global Sustainability Jam prohibits the use of pre-made content (this includes graphic designs, processes, models, audio, program code, etc.) unless it was publicly available at least a month prior to the service jam. Please also make sure that if you use pre-made content, you use content with a appropriate licence (CC or public licence).
            All materials can be used for demonstration - all materials made at the Global Sustainability Jam can be used for demonstration and lecture at conferences, schools or industry venues with the expressed discretion of the Global Sustainability Jam and Work Play Experience.
            Have fun! - 
As an initiative of Work Play Experience, the Global Sustainability Jam is designed to be fun, and we are trying to keep things simple. The best rule of thumb is that teams should not illegally exploit others' intellectual property, and that in turn, everything we create becomes part of the public domain. Participants agree by their participation in the Global Sustainability Jam that they will hold no-one liable for any loss or damage.



PARTICIPATION AGREEMENT, (EXAMPLE, as resource for organisers):

I agree that I and my heirs, next of kin, guardians, legal representatives and assigns, hereby release, hold harmless, and forever discharge <the organisers and site>, its employees, agents, successors, representatives and assigns, from any and all liability, claims, attorney’s fees, demands, actions, and causes of action whatsoever arising out of or related to any loss, property damage, or personal injury, including death, that may be sustained by me or to any property belonging to me while participating in the Global Sustainability Jam hosted by <the organisers and site>.

I also agree to actively participate, contribute and be present throughout the event days from <Jam-start-date> to <Jam-end-date>. Failure to comply with this agreement or the rules of the event may result in my immediate exclusion from the event.

What should we call our Jam?

The name of your Jam must be approved by the global organisers before you use it.

We suggest a name which gives an indication of the location town of your Jam, like Copenhagen Sustainability Jam or Sustainability Jam København. Fantasy names are also cool, like Viking Jam or Little Mermaid Sustainability Jam

There are just a few restrictions:

  • Please use the word "Jam" in your name.
  • Please do not use the word "Global" or any similar word in your name.
  • Please do not use any corporate or organisational branding in your name.
  • Please do not use any name which includes an area, territory or country.  Copenhagen Jam is cool, but Scandinavian Jam, Sjaelland Jam, or Denmark Jam are not.