Good for Nothing

Written on 6 March, 2014

This weekend, I had the pleasure of being at Birmingham’s first Good for Nothing gig. I was introduced to Good for Nothing sometime last year via my good friend Ryan, who actually ended up organising Birmingham’s debut alongside Lisa Barrett and Immy Kaur.

To briefly describe it, Good for Nothing is all about bringing makers and tinkerers together, utilising their varying skills to work on and help with cause-led innovation. Basically, it’s getting good people together to help create positive impact in our society. Note, these people aren’t just internet makers. Events tend to attract a much more varied collection of people — writers, architects, engineers, students, business owners, and numerous other brilliantly skilled minds.

To kick off Birmingham’s Good for Nothing, we headed over to Urban Coffee Company on Friday evening to get to know the other attendees, and hear about the briefs. These two briefs included the details of what we would be working on and aiming to achieve the next day. They were read through and explained by the founder of the cause we’d be helping, Birgit Kehrer, creator of ChangeKitchen.

ChangeKitchen is a social enterprise in Birmingham, that provides award winning catering for corporate events, conferences, weddings, and community meetups. They also run a café in the city centre. Alongside the amazing food, Birgit has built the business around some unique values. All the food is vegetarian (or if requested, totally vegan). This prevents any exclusion because of potential specific dietry requirements, instead celebrating the sharing of meals with everyone at the same place, eating from the same table. Their other aim is to provide training and work opportunities for the disadvantaged, or those who have faced social exclusion. Indeed, some of my favourites memories of the weekend were the happy personalities of our cooks; people that have likely suffered darker days in the past than I could barely envisage. Birgit has given them a tool to turn their life around, and with plenty of hard work, they’ve done just that.

I loved everything about ChangeKitchen, so come Saturday morning, I was really looking forward to getting stuck into some problem solving. Brief 1 focused on improving the marketing and overall image of ChangeKitchen, while brief 2 was all about improving the brand and promotion of their café, the “Pop-Up Kitchen”.

A few photos from Saturday

As I’m all too used to by now, it’s amazing how much you can get done in a single day when you put a group of smart, motivated people together. Come presentation time at 6pm, we had a new quote tool aimed specifically at a key target market of conference/meetup catering, a dashboard to manage quotes, a revamped business strategy full of useful tips, business development documents, and a refined future plan for the social media side of things. While over with brief 2, the Pop-Up Kitchen had a totally new brand. With a new name of “Change Café”, a beautiful new logo, and a slick microsite ready for launch, the quality of the café venture had certainly jumped up a few levels. Perhaps most importantly, Birgit seemed to be a fan of everything that was delivered.

I really enjoyed my first taste of Good for Nothing. I’d like to emphasise just how good the vibe over the weekend was. Egos were totally left at the door, which isn’t always the case with “do good” projects. No one was deluded in the scale of impact we were aiming for. Sometimes it’s not about changing the world, just improving a tiny part of it. Big aspirations are always good, but bringing that motivation back to a grassroots level to help out a local cause is something I totally loved, and I think it needs to be encouraged more and more.

Good for Nothing seems to be growing and expanding nicely. If you’d like to get involved, see if there’s any gigs or meetups coming up in your city. Otherwise, why not start your own?

Thanks again to Ryan, Lisa, and Immy for organising a fantastic event!

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