Six grassroots innovation movements, and why they matter

Innovation is increasingly said to be vital for responding to global challenges like sustainable development. Often overlooked, however, is the fact that networks of community groups, activists and researchers have been innovating grassroots solutions for social justice and environmental sustainability for decades. A new STEPS book, Grassroots Innovation Movements (Routledge, 2016) examines six such movements…

Makerspaces: Creating inclusive spaces for sustainable innovations

Making stuff is all the rage these days. But how does sustainable development fit into this enthusiasm? The White House is celebrating a Week of Making from June 16-23 2016 after hosting its first Maker Faire in 2014 to spark a “grassroots renaissance in American making and manufacturing”. The hope is that by exposing people…

Restart Podcast: Adrian Smith on grassroots innovation

The London-based Restart project, which promotes community repair for electronics, interviewed STEPS researcher Adrian Smith for their latest podcast, ‘Searching for the roots of grassroots innovation’. In it, Adrian discusses our historical and comparative project on ‘grassroots innovation’, including the Lucas Plan, the origins of 1980s tech networks in London, and the wider context of community…

Stories from STEPS: Float like a Fab Lab, sting like a Honey Bee

The second in a series of digital stories from the STEPS Centre looks at movements and experiences of ‘grassroots innovation’ and ‘inclusive innovation’ around the world, and asks how they might change how people think about making, producing and consuming things. Read the story now on Medium: Float like a Fab Lab, sting like a…

Maker culture and sustainability

What are citizen labs and ‘maker’ culture providing to sustainable development? STEPS researcher Adrian Smith was part of a panel discussing this question at an event on 18 November in Madrid. A recording from the event is now available. >> Listen to the discussion on the Medialab-Prado website (audio in Spanish) The debate explored the…

Adrian Smith on grassroots prototyping at SCORAI Europe

Adrian Smith, STEPS Grassroots Innovation project convenor, will talk about grassroots prototyping past and present to a SCORAI (Europe) workshop on sustainable consumption at Kingston University today. The flourishing of community-based workshops for prototyping new forms of production and consumption using versatile digital design and fabrication technologies can learn from similar community workshops in the…

Technology & democracy: the story of Brazil’s Social Technology Network

A new STEPS working paper tells the story of a recent experiment in grassroots innovation – the Social Technology Network (STN) in Brazil. The paper, by Mariano Fressoli and Rafael Dias, is linked to our project on historical and comparative perspectives on grassroots innovation. Formed in 2004, the STN was a ‘hybrid’, involving social movements,…

STEPS Summer School 2014 – Elsie Khakasa’s review

Guest post by Elsie Khakasa, STEPS Summer School 2014 participant. This post is reposted from Elsie’s blog with kind permission. Two weeks of a thought provoking and intense summer school have left me excited, and intellectually invigorated. I was fortunate to take part in this year’s STEPS Centre Summer School on Pathways to Sustainability, held from…

Grassroots fabrication in makerspaces: the importance of culture, context & relationships

On Thursday 10th April 2014, the Grassroots Innovations project organised a half-day World Café workshop in Copenhagen on the topic of grassroots fabrication in makerspaces. It formed one session within a wider conference exploring an ‘Innovative Civil Society’ and hosted by the international Living Knowledge network of science shops. Makerspaces are one of the case…

Inclusive innovation: learning to listen to the excluded

Last week I spent a fascinating couple of days at the OECD Symposium on Innovation and Inclusive Growth, where discussion kept returning to the challenge of scaling-up inclusive innovation. Unsurprisingly, given the venue, and with most of the participants coming from economics and business schools, talk has tended to focus on getting the incentives right,…