For design before design, I prefer immersion in the field location and alternating thinking and writing with observations and interviews in order to tightly frame the problem space and the social design challenge. My RQ is whether the application of the guiding first principles of the Scandinavian tradition of participatory design research (also known as cooperative design, see Bodker et al., 1988) helps novice facilitators shift from acquiring novel knowledge and technology (in the dictionary sense of tools) to building their confidence in putting the knowledge into action/practice?
It will be a long time before this question is answered. At the moment, on Day 2 of my fieldwork in rural Ostrobothnia, I am fleshing out the concept design of the interventions planned around the interstitial spaces between “arts and culture” and the “environmental sciences” – a burgeoning new interdisciplinary thought stream with some interesting experiments being done in rural France. And not just the introduction of designers and artists in collaborative community sensemaking and storytelling, as done by Vanderlinden; etc; etc, but also facilitating communities sense of their own capacity and agency for creative expression. I’m working in collaboration with a visual artist who recently worked with connecting the tactile experience of embroidery with the forest mosses that were under pressure from encroaching human activities on their natural habitat.
It opens up explorations of the curatorial nature of facilitation of participatory groups, and the transient nature of experiences that may have long lasting impacts such as a change of perception. An example from the Kenyan fieldwork where the process and framework were first developed is the last legacy of women’s experience of cognitive justice, and the recognition of their expertise and lived experience as valid sources of knowledge; delivered to them in the form of simple thinking tools for planning and prioritizing investments as micro-entrepreneurs.
Today we will meet a forester.