In the End, There Are No Mistakes

Drivers for Change x AKOU in Edinburgh

I felt very lucky to visit Edinburgh as part of Drivers for Change (DfC). At AKOU, my work is primarily focused on experience design. So, during this trip I was there to facilitate the use of the new version of the app and engaging with the participants to take on feedback from the user’s experience. But I was in awe how my visit to Edinburgh shaped my own experience and opened my eyes to a number of things.

Before the usual Drivers for Change programme took place, everyone had some down time which gave me the opportunity to take in the city. It was one of the hottest days of the year and I’d been on a train for a very long time, so I had a little bake in the park to top up on vitamin D and read a book. The aura of the park and the people in it was calm and serene. It was a little oasis in the middle of the city and whilst being there, it was hard to tell that there was such a vast city awaiting.

Participants meet former Prime Minister Gordon Brown in Edinburgh.

Using the Past with Purpose

The first instance meeting of DfC at the Storytelling Centre gave me an instant buzz. The energy in the room was very positive and one could get an inkling of the great potential arising which had been cooking from the previous days the participants had been spending together. The first speaker was Briana Pedago, who ran Edinburgh Student Art Festival, the first creative festival in Edinburgh. Her motivation stemmed from wanting to showcase creative young talent.

Although the festival was a great success, it unfortunately wasn’t financially viable enough to continue. For many this would be disappointing but instead, her outlook was a great example of truthful reflection and learning, showing the importance of taking time to reconfigure in order to move forward again. In the end, her new endeavour as a creative consultant seemed to be far more potent in helping creative individuals than the festival in the first place. This reminded me of how much our failures can help us succeed and ultimately can help us find our true purpose.

The Power of Storytelling

After Briana Pedago followed Lily Asch, who is a professional storyteller. She gave us a crash course in telling stories that have the power to stay with the listener and immerse them into the perspective of another person. She shared difficult personal experiences and this powerful ‘storytelling’ allowed us to relate to her better and understand her feelings and frustrations.

Stories are powerful, they shape the history of people and the places they live in. There lies incredible social value in knowing the history of a place. This became apparent during one of my personal highlights of the trip – an amazing tour of the town we did after the first round of talks. Our guide was Sonny, who was part of an initiative called Invisible Cities that is available for ex-homeless people, giving them the opportunity to work as tours guides. We learned about the dark history of Edinburgh as well as the nicer aspects. For example, we visited the Elephant Cafe, where J.K Rowling wrote the first drafts for many of the Harry Potter books and went to the actual graves that inspired one of the main characters, Tom Riddle aka Lord Voldemort. It comes to show how important the past of a place is to shape its future. And with that, not only did we experience the city though XY’s eyes but we also learned what is important to him. Hearing about his life story and how his journey has inspired him to help others, gave me great insight into how we can use our past with purpose, which links back to Briana Pedago’s experience. Everything is connected.

By utilising people’s best trades and past experiences, social enterprises have the ability to improve people’s lives and give people more power. Despite facing some rocks on their paths, all of the incredible people we learned about during this trip are adding something valuable to those around them. I’ve learned that in the long run, there are no mistakes. Everything that happens lead us exactly to where we need to be, allowing us all to write our own stories.