Earth Day

A time to remember the planet wasn’t made just for us.

“Without biodiversity, there is no future for humanity,” Prof David Macdonald, Oxford University.

The installation ‘Natural Deselection’ by Tim Simpson illustrates ease by which human beings exercise power over the natural world. Three flowers are allowed to grow in artificial setting until the tallest plant reaches a height sensor. The sensor then triggers the death of the two smaller plants. The installation demonstrates with brutal efficiency the concept of ‘the survival of the fittest’.

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Illustration of Tim Simpson’s ‘Natural Deselection’. AG

The theory of Natural Selection devised by Charles Darwin, explains how specimens which are best adapted to their environment outcompete weaker species. The process enables the reproductive and genetic continuance of the best biological traits. While natural selection is an important part of ecosystem development, we see the same process being artificially replicated in human behaviour on countless occasions with damaging results. In food production for example plants are continuously modified to suit human production and consumption.

A carrot should be X shade of orange, X shape and X length. It should take X numbers of days to grow. Any carrot that does not fit our criteria is removed and it’s existence is deemed unworthy. This mentality goes beyond food production, it also dictates our landscapes and our experience of the natural world.

In many aspects, human behaviour imposes strict parameters on the growth and development of nature.

The ‘selections’ we make not only influence our perception of the world or our idea of what a carrot should look like, it affects biodiversity and nature’s resilience to change. Biodiversity is made up of ecosystem diversity, species diversity and genetic diversity which together effect the chemical and biological flows of the planet. Biodiversity increases resilience to climate change and underlies the stability of all life on earth. Our obsession with ‘natural’ selection has led us to the sixth mass extinction of species. The current rate of extinction is 100x higher than normal. Within several human lifetimes, three quarters of animal species could be lost.[1]

When will we learn that nature is not ours to control?

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Vallis, Frome. AG

“Teach your children
what we have taught our children-
that the earth is our mother.
Whatever befalls the earth
befalls the sons and daughters of the earth.
If men spit upon the ground,
they spit upon themselves.”

Chief Seattle

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Slad Valley. AG

[1] https://news.nationalgeographic.com/2015/06/150623-sixth-extinction-kolbert-animals-conservation-science-world/ 

Link here to view ‘Natural Deselection’ by Tim Simpson

 

Remakery Frome, one year on.

The Remakery Frome is now in with the chance of winning £38K! Please vote to help the workshop provide community led craft events for another year.

This time last year I had just moved to Frome, a small town in Eastern Somerset with a big heart and an independent mind. It was the perfect setting to start a course that promised to teach me how to create a social enterprise hands-on.

At the beginning of April I met the diverse individuals whom I would work with for the next 10 weeks. We came from different backgrounds with a rich variety of life experience and expertise. Our brief was to create an enterprise that tackled throwaway culture and encouraged repair and a Do It Yourself attitude in Frome.

 

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Getting stuck into the theme

In our first week we met with Cara the Resilience Officer from Frome Town council and began mapping our first ideas. The weeks that followed involved many hours of brainstorming, interviews, physical labour and trips to the woods for downtime and inspiration. I learnt about ideation, business planning, teamwork and so much more.

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The Remakery team during a day of reflection in Vallis

Ten weeks later, we launched Remakery Fromea space for doers, fixers, makers and breakers. The purpose of the Remakery was to create a place where all members of the community would feel comfortable. As a result we equipped the space with the materials and tools necessary for all kinds of fixing and making from textiles to woodwork.

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A sketch of the Remakery launch party by Sarah Godsill

A year later and the Remakery has become the home for many interesting projects including: spoon carving, leather craft, basket weaving, ceramics, gardening and Edventure: MAKE courses. Amongst other things the Remakery also hosts the Mens Shed where people over 55 can socialise, make things and work on projects for the benefit of the community and Open Story Tellers Frome events where people with learning difficulties can create together.

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Deciding on a logo

Recently the Remakery was selected as one of ITV and the Big Lottery’s Peoples Project, an initiative which promises to fund 5 community enterprises. The Remakery is in with a chance of wining £38K which would enable them to offer another 113 community activity days in the workshop. But we need your help to make this a reality.

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Working on the Remakery with Edventure built my capabilities and confidence in entrepreneurship in a live setting with a tangible social and environmental goal. Winning the People’s Project would allow Edventure to offer more great opportunities like this to young people looking to make a difference to their own and others lives.

If you live in the UK please VOTE for Remakery Frome!

The Remakery Team celebrating after the launch in Monkton Wyld 2017

 

 

Design for Government; The Systems Perspective

Looking at the future of Finland’s Hiking Areas: New Uses, Users and Identity in the second phase of the Design for Government course.

“Nature doesn’t need us, we need nature” Per-Erik Skagerlid – Swedish Nature Conservationist.

This spring I started a new project-based course titled ‘Design for Government’.  The course aims teach to us how to apply design thinking to complex challenges in the government and public sector. At the beginning of term we were divided into multidisciplinary teams and given the task by the Finnish Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture to come up with ‘new uses, users and identity’ for Finland’s State Hiking Areas. For the purpose of this project we will focus on Evo Hiking Area, which is the largest continuous piece of forest and only State Hiking Area in Southern Finland.

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Evo Hiking Area. Illustration: Abigail Garbett

In the first part of the course we focused on the ‘Human Perspective’ where we became familiar with the task at hand. This involved meeting members of the Ministry and Metsähallitus who manage the Hiking Areas, interviewing various people involved from Scout groups to the international tourists, carrying out desktop research and finally conducting a field trip to Evo (You can read more about the first phase here).

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First impressions of Evo Hiking Area from the ‘human perspective’. Layout: Andreas Sode, Illustrations: Abigail Garbett

For the second phase we have been focusing on the ‘Systems Perspective’. For this section we built on the data collected thus far to form a more holistic view of the brief and the problem we would like to address. We began this process by expanding on our initial affinity diagram (where we mapped our key findings from the desktop research on a post-it note wall) to include key quotes and insights from our interviews. In the picture below you can see how our understanding has grown from week 2 to week 6.

After we felt satisfied that all our data was represented on the affinity diagram, we began to structure our points into categories and visualised the relationships between different stakeholders. Through this process we identified education, human well-being and ecosystem health as being important leverage points for us. We used systems mapping to illustrate the problems and needs of our stakeholders and with Mengxiao’s excellent illustrator skills our post-it notes were transformed into a complex systems map.

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Systems Map of needs and problems. By Mengxiao Li

Evo Hiking Area has a unique history as the home of Finnish forestry education and currently includes a teaching forest managed by HAMK University and nature reserves. The area is frequently used by the nearby Lammi Biological Station and Scout groups who have a unique educational agenda. We also discovered that local primary and secondary school teachers would like to use the area more to teach children about nature. Andreas helped us to understand the relationships between these educational institutions via a second systems map.

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Education Activities in Evo Systems Map. By Andreas Sode
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Local School Teacher Perspective. Illustration by Abigail Garbett

We also identified that these activities are only possible if the native ecosystem is properly looked after and respected. We spoke with biologists and a conservationist working in the field to better understand the ecosystem perspective. On the one hand the extinction of plant and animal species is happening at faster rate than ever before and one the other we are loosing our knowledge about the natural world.

“The ‘collective memory’ is not maintained and there is a lack knowledge of what once grew” Annette Sode – Biologist.

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From Guardian Article: ‘Have Children Lost Touch with Nature? Illustration by Abigail Garbett

In the context of Finnish Hiking Areas it is essential education and respect for nature is promoted. 

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Looking at Hiking Areas from an Ecosystem perspective. Illustration by Abigail Garbett
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A ‘Rich Picture’ of Evo’s Ecosystem. Illustration by Abigail Garbett

We used Peter Checkland’s ‘rich picture’ technique to illustrate the ecosystem’s complex role in providing education, work and leisure time in Evo.

Looking forward, we will focus on two key research questions for the final ‘intervention’ phase of the project. We aim to consider the potential for Hiking Areas, in particular Evo Hiking Area to provide meaningful nature experiences which raise awareness for the natural ecosystems on which we all rely.

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Graphic by Andreas Sode

Our team is made up of Andreas Sode from New Media, Ming Unn and Mengxiao Li from Collaborative and Industrial Design, Riina Ruus-Prato from Product and Spacial Design and me from Creative Sustainability.

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The Team! Illustration by Abigail Garbett

 

Design for Government; the Human Perspective

The Future of Finland’s Hiking Areas: New Uses, Users and Identity

This spring I started a new project-based course titled ‘Design for Government’.  The course aims teach to us how to apply design thinking to complex challenges in the government and public sector. At the beginning of term we were divided into multidisciplinary teams and given a brief by the Finnish Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture.  We will spend the next three months working on a solution to the brief which we will present on the 22nd of May. For the first phase we have been focusing on the ‘Human Perspective’ by building a picture of the current situation and learning about the needs of different stakeholders.
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Design and Government

At first design and government might seem like an unlikely pair. What does design have to do with making legislation? However, the movement towards design for government acknowledges the ability for designers to drive innovation and create more participatory and citizen-centric governance. Designers in Government can transform policy, civil servant work and citizen services. The role of design in the public sector is rapidly expanding in Europe and Finland in particular. In 2016, Anne Stenros was appointed by the Government as the ‘Chief Design Officer’ (or ‘Chief Disruption Officer’ as she prefers to think of herself) for the City of Helsinki. We met Anne in our first class and learnt that ‘disruption’ is a mandatory requirement for any designer wishing to pursue a career in the narrow confines of Government silos.

The Brief : The Future of Finland’s Hiking Areas: New Uses, Users and Identity

This year’s brief was written by the Ministry of Forestry and Agriculture in collaboration with Metsähallitus, a state owned company in charge of managing Hiking Areas. In a nutshell the brief asks us to first, create a distinct brand image for Hiking Areas, and second to find new and innovative ways of increasing tourism there. It raises wider questions about the trend for eco-tourism and the impact of man on nature. In an increasingly urbanised world, the need for accessible nature experiences in rising and must be examined from both an environmental and social perspective.

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Photography: Ming Unn

The Human Perspective

The first stage of the project is about ‘taking the human perspective as a starting point of design’. So far we have met with stakeholders from the Ministry and Metsähallitus and have begun researching our test site, which is Evo National Park. We took a trip there and have begun collaborating with local users and visitors in the area. We are also in the process of interviewing potential new users and experts within the field.

Evo stakeholder map

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Photography: Ming Unn

Our team is made up of Andreas Sode from New Media, Ming Unn and Mengxiao Li from Collaborative and Industrial Design, Riina Ruus-Prato from Product and Spacial Design and me from Creative Sustainability!

 

How to Change the World, Week 4

Happiness and sustainable deeds diary, 29th – 4th Feb.

This is the fourth week of my happiness and sustainable deed diary where I aim to write down one thing that makes me happy and one sustainable deed, however small, that I have performed each day for a month. This week I have been thinking about the role nature plays in bringing happiness to life. I was reminded of this poem:

I part the thrusting branches

and come in beneath

the blessed and the blessed trees.

Though I am silent

there is singing around me.

Though I am dark

there is vision around me.

Though I am heavy

there is flight around me.

Wendell Berry.

Monday 29th January

Happy For: Today I found it hard to find something that made me happy but seeing a whole length of clear water ahead of me at the swimming pool made me feel very grateful. Sustainable Deed: Buying loose vegetables.

Tuesday 30th January

Happy For: Productive and fun group work and the feeling of a shared success. The image of pink clouds floating above Uppsala. Sustainable Deed: Cycling to school.

Wednesday 31st January

Happy For: The first sunny day in a long time, escaping class and finding animal footprints in the snow.  Seeing a set of freshly developed photos and remembering events from the past few months. Sustainable Deed: Attending the first meeting for the proposed Test Site for Practical Sustainability in Otaniemi Campus.

Thursday 1st February

Happy For: New friends and the sense of belonging that comes from spending time together. Sustainable Deed: Learning how to fix the breaks on my bike at Unicornshki, Helsinki’s Female and Gender Variant Bike Group.

Friday 2nd February

Happy For: Swimming, the movement in my legs and arms. Being looked after by Benjamin and Maria when I didn’t feel well. Sustainable Deed: Mending a ripped skirt and Maria’s cloth bag.

Saturday 3rd February

Happy For: Talking to my family and getting to see my grandparents faces on video. Sustainable Deed: Using hand-me-down winter boots.

Sunday 4th February

Happy For: Talking to Vanessa and being transported to Montpellier for half an hour while walking along the frozen coast of Helsinki. Sustainable Deed: Limiting the amount of water I use to do the washing up and clean the kitchen.

Helsinki Climathon 2017

In the Autumn I participated in Helsinki’s first ‘Climathon’, a 24 hour global competition dedicated to addressing the pressing challenges of climate change. We began the event at 10am on Thursday morning with a presentation of the challenge brief; ‘To find solutions for reusing building components for the circular economy in the Helsinki metropolitan area’. In the following twenty four hours we were guided through the issue of construction waste by industry experts including representatives from Delete and HSY, listened to several inspirational lectures on communication techniques, participated in a 3am Yoga session and most importantly got down to the hard task of trying to solve the problem of reusing building components.

Construction waste is not my area of expertise and I was lucky enough to have Yishu Niu, a lifecycle analyst and construction expert, Kaarle Rasi, a business consultant and cascading wood specialist and Mo Bakr an engineer with experience in the circular economy on my team. Together we worked through the night to come up with a solution; ‘Timberahna; creating a new market for certified reused wood’.

Currently annual C&D wood waste in Finland is 0.6 Mtons, which makes it the most common type of C&D waste material. Timberahna addressed this issue specifically by creating a streamlined deconstruction, sorting, labeling and certification system which allowed quality load bearing wooden beams to be redistributed to wood suppliers with trust and convenience. In the long-run, by implementing our solution we expect to reduce wood waste by 60%.

We pitched our idea to industry experts on Friday morning and we were lucky enough to be chosen as the winning idea.

climathon poster

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How to Change the World, Week 3

Happiness and sustainable deeds diary, 22nd – 28th Jan.

This is the third week of my happiness and sustainable deed diary where I aim to write down one thing that makes me happy and one sustainable deed, however small, that I have performed each day for a month. This week in class we discussed what makes a change maker. On a fundamental level being able to make change requires that your basic needs are fulfilled. I believe with that privilege comes the responsibility to effect positive change in what ever way we can. Tim Jackson talks about change in ‘Prosperity Without Growth’ as something that can be

“…expressed through the way we live, the things we buy, how we travel, where we invest our money, how we spend our leisure time. It can be achieved through our work. It can be influenced by the way we vote and the democratic pressure we exercise on our leaders. It can be expressed through grass-roots activism and community engagement. The pursuit of an individual frugality, a voluntary simplicity, is considerable.”

While governments and businesses can change situations, I believe the only person we can truly change is ourselves and by doing so we may also inspire others. Dorothy Day said “the greatest challenge of today is how to bring about a revolution of the heart – a revolution which has to start with each one of us”.

Week 3:

Monday 22th January

Happy For: Finding the courage to speak from my heart. Sustainable Deed: Eating leftovers.

Tuesday 23th January

Happy For: An interesting discussion with classmates, realising what peer teaching was all about. Sustainable Deed: Taking a bread ‘heel’ instead of cutting a fresh slice in the school canteen.

Wednesday 24th January

Happy For: Feeling inspired after watching nature documentaries at the Nordic Culture Centre. In one film I liked how a man who creates mountain bike trails in Denmark explained that his aim is ‘not to change nature, but to enhance what is already there’. Sustainable Deed: Picking up street rubbish (and recycling it!)

Thursday 25th January

Happy For: Hearing a songbird for the first time this year. Sustainable Deed: Making sure I only boil as much water as I need.

Friday 26th January

Happy For: Being able to cycle again now the snow has melted and trying new Finnish dishes with Maria (Karjalanpiirakka with egg butter). Sustainable Deed: Using a handkerchief rather than tissues to deal with my cold.

Saturday 27th January

Happy For: Lazy mornings, eating breakfast on Maria’s rug and discussing the value of sitting on the floor. Sustainable Deed: Reusing old packaging to transport my lunch.

Sunday 28th January

Happy For: Seeing Aino, our 3 year old friend in Quaker Meeting and having the opportunity to share her sense of excitement at the simplest things. Sustainable Deed: Turning down the temperature of the fridge.