The Peoplehood project is a large collaborative project led by Blackwood Homes and Care, involving a wide range of organisations including University of Edinburgh researchers across Informatics, the Business School and the Institute for Design Informatics. The project is focused on exploring the future of age-friendly neighbourhoods, in three different communities across Scotland. We have been leading on a work stream focused on exploring “value exchange” between community members, and the role of alternative “local” currencies that might foster new forms of volunteering, social capital and connectivity between older people and other generations in neighbourhoods. We are interested in how people in these communities already help each other out by giving their time to each other, by sharing tools and resources, and how we might represent the “value” of these exchanges to promote sustained engagement in such activities over time.
Thus far in the project we’ve been exploring how new forms of local currency that represent exchanges might be established, what value(s) may be placed on such representations, and how this may support the longer-term sustainability of community member engagement. As part of our ongoing Research through Design process, we have conducted a series of engagements with community members with a range of design probes and workshop techniques – this includes the creation of ‘Exchangenopoly’, a board game (based on Monopoly) that we use as a method to surface tacit knowledge and social structures within communities and explore possible future interactions and exchanges between community members.
We are currently translating the insights from these engagements into the creation of a new application that includes a digital wallet for a local digital currency and associated tokens for local people to trade for access to each other’s time and resources, and to track skills development and social capital growth in the communities we are working with.