The long story: New playground in Bygdsiljum coming soon

There is a Swedish post and video coming soon, but while that is getting done, I'm writing an English one, mostly so I get the flow of what we need to write and mostly so what needs to get written gets written. Call it a 'live test' post.

So, here it is, the full version, including everything that has gone on before and everything that has happened or is about to happen. In some places, I've not added a company name, but anyone from Bygdsiljum will know who I'm talking about, it's just that I've not got permission yet if I can use their name or not, even though I suspect I can.

The old playground

I guess this is where we have to start; the village was asked to remove some things from the playground this summer and it wasn't nice to see a park with only a swing. It's not all that surprising either, as what was there was old and built during a time when children had no fear and society didn't try to foresee every possible accident. I think the slide was a 15 or 16 feet climb to the top and you landed with a bump. In fairness, it had to go.

So a lot of things went and we were left with a swing. It wasn't appealing. It also wasn't a municipality owned playground so they had no reason to replace it. I hope they have reason to care though.

Bygdsiljum: Really, a place for ideas

And this is where Bygdsiljum First becomes part of the story. For those that don't know, we started this service when All Tele started to offer a 100Mbit internet connection - which was coincidentally around the same time that six other providers could sell on top of the Skellefteå Kraft network.

Instead of paying All Tele or someone else, residents of Bygdsiljum could pay for a branded service called Bygdsiljum First and the profits, instead of going to the shareholders or owners of the other company, would go back to the village. We outsourced absolutely everything, much like Skellefteå Kraft did (you're sill connecting on the Skellefteå Kraft network) and took the money for ourselves instead.

And, if you're a customer of Bygdsiljum First, you get to submit ideas on what we do with the money. And this is where the idea for a new playground started. The idea submitted was something along the lines of 'why don't Bygdsiljum First buy a new playground set'.

It was the perfect suggestion, because the point in setting up Bygdsiljum First was to promote positive social change.

A co-created playground project

But, that wasn't good enough for us. You see, it's too easy to buy a new playground and living where we live, with so many natural resources, a huge area to put a new playground and a village with several companies, all committed to the village and the future (many of the owners of these companies with children or grandchildren in the village), we thought we could do better.

First, we spoke to people as there were several questions we needed to get the answers for. There were lots but the key ones were:

1. Can we put up a new playground?
2. Will local business support it?
3. Will the municipality support it?

When we learned that the answer to those three questions were all a yes, then we took the idea a step further and decided to ask for permission from Bygdsiljum First customers, to spend some money in making this happen.

And this is where co-creation comes in. I was speaking to someone called Pär that works at North Kingdom and he told me about something Christoper Alexander once said about how the best people to design a building are the people that are going to be using or living in it and then I thought, why not get the children that are going to be using the playground to design, or at the very least, inspire the new playground.

But to do that, we were going to need a very friendly architect and this is where the local business network first played a role. You see, in this very small village called Bygdsiljum, we have quite a big sawmill that produce an awful lot of wood with a hugely impressive range of end products. They knew of a local firm that might be interested.

Step in Collage Arkitekter who, after very little persuasion and much enthusiasm from there end, decided to support the project and join us for a morning in Bygdsiljum where we asked all the children in the school to draw for them what they would like to see in a new playground.

So, what we ended up with was a project where the children of Bygdsiljum inspired the architects with their drawings. It's called co-creation.

But we're taking co-creation a little step further. We're going to happily accept donations of more wood from residents in the village and have already had some, but we've also asked the help of some local business to help with other aspects of the playground that doesn't include wood and we are also going to ask for help from the residents of Bygdsiljum to put the playground together.

More to come on this but below are all the drawings done by all the children in Bygdsiljum a few weeks ago and these are going to be used as inspiration for the new playground. I've seen elements and a final first draft - but we're going to see if we can make the playground bigger and get more in, so still plenty of stuff to do.

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