Partners involved in: Atlantic Cities Association

Spring 2020, first lockdown. A innovation that represents a real change. It was in this context that I found myself working on the European EURE project and in the SHE4SEA Atlantic Cities Association (ACA) project. Since 2018, I have participated in the Atlantic Futures programme implemented by ACA, which aims to develop young people’s professional skills.

Throughout this period I had the opportunity to try out methods and to better identify my strengths and the skills I needed to improve (i. e adapting talents capable of flourishing in the workplace world after having been exposed to its expectations, completely different from the school universe in which I had previously evolved), all this in a safe environment thanks to the security guaranteed by the head of the association.

The period requires full adoption of remote working. Together we discover little tricks to structure our days and overcome some of the physical and virtual distance caused by this unprecedented situation. Different ways of communicating and sharing information are used. Autonomy and a spirit of initiative emerge by force of circumstance.

For example, sending daily messages to say “good morning” and “good evening” to the team, or a Skype meeting every day to keep in touch and discuss each other’s subjects. I will resume these habits in a few months time, as we are currently in the middle of a second lockdown and I have just started a new job ten days earlier.

Atlantic Futures program was very beneficial for me as it made me an AYCH ambassador and gave me the opportunity to speak as an Atlantic Futures alumna during the « 20 years of Atlantic cooperation » workshop organised as part of 18th European week of regions and cities organised by the European Committee of the Regions. Public speaking, even if in videoconference, a necessary and obligatory adjustment given the situation, is a key step for me that feels much more comfortable with a pen than standing behind a microphone.

The Atlantic Futures programme at the heart of the ACA has anchored the idea of learning and empowering each other. A philosophy dear to the AYCH programme which I am also an ambassador.

This programme, which seeks to promote creative methods inspired by design thinking,uses words and methodology in a coherent way , full of common sense and agility. By reflecting on the use of a product/service, its user and its ideal product journey, together with the details of this product/service and its prototype through the “double diamond” methodology, a connection appears between the scientific rigour learnt during the first part of my studies in preparatory school and the development of projects and services regarding territory and city planning which corresponds to the second part of my studies.

Hence, based on evidences, observation and on the search for ideas or solutions by referring to theory, to similar experiences and to the users’ evaluations, players involved and experts, all this material was used to define ideas, apply them, collect, analyse and synthesise the available data in order to adjust the proposed answers and implement them. Further improvements and adaptations will be made according to that. The sensation is the same as that of a tightrope walker, balancing between the current and future state and needs of the individual and the issues to dealt with on a larger scale that gives the interdisciplinary and prototypical design thinking process its strength.

The picture is now becoming more and more complete. Indeed, as I briefly mentioned earlier, during the autumn of 2020, I started a new job being in charge of the improvement of the Atlantic territory, more precisely the Brittany one. This mission is directly inspired by the concept of service design thinking, since its goal is to carry out real experiments in the transportation field.

These experiments will allow a more ambitious project to be tested and tried out before being launched and available on a large scale. Trying it out in a safe environment has opened up space to make mistakes freely, to face difficulties and overcome them, to celebrate small victories and focus on them, to learn from the feedback of those who have gone through similar experiences, to deal with the unpredictable and with all the good and bad surprises that may arise.

My experiences as an Atlantic Futures alumna and an AYCH ambassador have been fruitful, both for the content of the methods learned as well as for the format related to this context and to remote working, as I am not yet familiar with face-to-face work. Last but not least, I would like to warmly thank Tamara Espiñeira for her advices, support, presence and trust.

Written by Léna Dos, land use planning and urban development engineer & AYCH ambassador