Activism and civic participation

The capacity of individuals, groups and organisations to undertake initiatives and foster change at an higher level; the democratization and openness of the processes.

Docklands Convivial Garden & Food Hub – Activism and civic participation


Community engagement was a important component in the success of the project. In the early development phase of the community garden, potential stakeholders and interested community members were engaged to create a plan of action and organise the Food Hub. Co-design workshops were held through community and business groups to design various elements of the Food Hub including, business model, program model, governance model and physical space. Early stage buy-in from all stakeholders created a sense of community ownership. However a challenge in this engagement process was that it was perceived as a threat, rather than an asset, by developers and local government. Community engagement was seen as threatening to formal processes and structured development as there did not seem to be a way to ‘formalise’ a deep engagement with the community into a physical piece of infrastructure. (Sustainable Everyday & Urban Reforestation)

On the Edge Forum – Activism and civic participation


The emphasis on civic action in preserving, managing and maintaining our farmland is an issue which needs to be lobbied for by organised groups and citizens.  (Sustainable Everyday & Village Well)

Shepaarton Food Hub – Activism and civic participation


The Convivial lunch for the Shepparton Food Hub project was a very important event to bring leaders and diverse stakeholders together for a conversation. The council wanted to challenge the norm and bring diverse people together to make changes towards food sustainability in the city. (Sustainable Everyday & Pollen Studio)

BEANOR – Activism and Civic Participation


At the beginning of the project, we co-designed with the administrators who work in the service centre, because they understand Intellectually Disabled People (IDP) well. They informed the design team which IDP could do which part of the planting process. In fact, the IDPs do not always stay at the service centre; when they are not there, the permanent residents in the service centres building help to water the sprout vegetables. (JU DESIS Lab)

Wangjing Endorsement – Activism and civic participation


After analysing the present situation on the farm: the features of different groups of participants and the degree of consistency, we chose three groups of people who are most likely to be the target users: the aged; the white collar worker; and the pregnant women. (JU DESIS Lab)

Vanke Kunshan Farm – Activism and civic participation


From the redesign of communication media for users in each hierarchy, the service can provide high quality participation and experience of agriculture knowledge and entertainment activities. In this way, real time collaboration is possible. (JU DESIS Lab)

Meihao Farm of Wanke – Activism and civic participation


The real design challenge and strategy is to regard consumers and their social network as resources for co- creation. This empowers them to become involved in the solution as co-producers through an enabling platform and the solution resources from commercial partners; it also encourages a high degree of participation of everyone involved. (JU DESIS Lab)

City of Greater Dandenong Food Strategy – Activism and Civic Participation


The economic development department ran a ‘convivial breakfast’. The council wanted to challenge the norm and bring diverse people together to make changes towards food sustainability in the city. When the revolutionary concept of permaculture was included in the strategy making process we knew this was a sign that civic participation was influencing the strategy and the local government’s traditional way of consulting the public. (Sustainable Everyday & Field Institute Melbourne)

Nutrire Milano – Activism and civic participation

nutrire milano 4

Feeding Milan was the start up of a systemic process, rather than the designing of a desirable state. It is the design of a continuous and in-progress sequence of desirable states evolving toward a scenario. It therefore conforms to the characteristic of working on a process rather than a product, and consequently opens the difficult question of planning an exit strategy for the initiative. In other words, if by project we mean an activity where some designers apply their research and innovation capabilities to a determined issue to identify and develop solutions, then this activity required Feeding Milano to have a totally immersive and participatory approach, the full and continuous presence of designers in the large community involved in the project. This presence was not only professional but also motivational to the same degree; that is, comparable to that of an activist capable of leading the community and supporting it with technical and professional skills. This is called Community Centred Design: an approach that must provide for the presence of designers in the community for long enough to activate the particular initiative or initiatives, enable the it to pursue its path of innovation and implement the project, visualizing it as a common, shared aim; that is, adopting a strategic design perspective. This way of operating opens the question of continuity-discontinuity in the contribution and presence of designers in the local communities and social enterprises, which are the main interlocutors in these initiatives but are usually not equipped to receive such professionalism in a structural way. The participation and activation process was set in place in Feeding Milan through various initiatives, among which the Ideas Sharing Stall at the farmers’ market (the Earth Market). It is a stand where designers were used to discuss emerging ideas for new services with visitors and participants, asking for comments and inviting creative contributions spurred by ad hoc conversation topics. By using are semi-finished ideas design thinking with the community was stimulated. The stall, woking on purpose still today, was the trigger of design experiments and was a visible design bureau in the Feeding Milan community for enabling participatory design. It provided a tangible presence for design, and was one of the immersive situations in which the community-centred design approach took shape. Feeding Milano teaches us that immersion must be followed and complemented by pro-activism, which implies a very deep integration into groups and contexts. This means helping collaborative design practices to happen by fostering conversations around systemic changes exemplified at the level of everyday experiences as well as materializing shifts in tangible lifestyles and business opportunities. (Polimi Desis Lab)