Nanaimo nerds lead with ideas

NANAIMO – Municipalities and Nanaimo organizations are paying attention to ideas generated by Nanaimo Design Nerds.

The Nanaimo Design Nerds have been bringing people together at ‘jams’ – meet-ups to share visions, find solutions to members’ problems and brainstorm ways to make the city more attractive for creative professionals. Ideas that percolate at the events are free for anyone to take on, and they’re starting to take root in the Harbour City.

The District of Lantzville has taken a page out of the design nerd handbook, hosting its first-ever idea jam earlier this month to tap into citizens’ views on urban farming. Nanaimo Economic Development Corporation and Innovation Island are joining forces to discuss a new co-working space downtown for creative professionals. The concept was pitched at one of the nerds’ first idea jams.

Mark Ashby, a founding design nerd, said he’s “absolutely thrilled” to see their models and ideas picked up and valued. Earlier this year the City of Nanaimo also used the design nerds to help facilitate a public forum on the cultural plan.

“It’s exciting to see them take a risk and jump on the ideation model we’ve created,” he said.

The design nerds have been growing over the last year, with six key members and more than 150 casual members who work together on projects or brainstorm ways to make the city a more fun place for young creative people.

Ashby said while jams don’t work in every situation, it is a new tool for municipalities struggling to create healthy public engagement.