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From Waste to Taste - Enacting the SDGs in a local context.

Updated: Jul 21, 2020

CoDesRes aims to develop a set of tools and resources that engage students and communities with the Sustainable Development Goals, but in tangible and local ways, building on opportunities within existing curriculum or what the communities are already doing. CoDesRes is itself an intervention into the SDGs. Its underpinning methodology was developed in line with the Millennium Goals, Article 26, 27 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the issues around Climate Breakdown. The methodology is an arts and design-led systems approach to creatively addressing real-world problems on a local scale, by contributing to local resilience.

The Millennium Goals were the precursor to the SDGS which were limited due to inclusion and participation from the developing countries in their origination and the policies that were in place or developed to reach the proposed targets. CoDesRes's methodology integrates social and environmental justice into its methods and an understanding of economic capital that stems from the root of the word economics and ecology, 'oikos'. Oikos, can be thought of as a sort of home economics; a balancing of our home's resources

As a strategic intervention tactic (McKeown, 2015), CoDesRes's underlying methodology seeks to intervene in policy and planning in a way that supports agency and opportunities within local communities. The pCr methodology offers the foundation for communities to interpret a shared set of aims and governing policy agendas so they can be localised in relevant and appropriate ways. As an inclusive art and design approach, the understanding that one size doesn't fit all, the pCr methodology offers a semi-structured approach that guides the users to utilise systemic understanding of a system; political, social, cultural, physical to identify threats and opportunities that begins to enable them to be adaptive and resilient.

The edible-medicinal sculpture trail was designed using the pCr and offers a practical and tangible way to consider how SDG 11 Sustainable Cities and Communities and SDG 15 - Life on Land might be pursued within the context of Cahersiveen, a district town in S.Kerry. In addition, the local context had very specific concerns and issues; lack of dwell-time by visitors, a number of wasted or under-valued spaces and the opportunity for enhanced eco-literacy particularly in the realm of bio-diversity. Reflective of the national aims of the Tidy Town's competition, Cahersiveen's Tidy Town group had been moving away from simply 'tidying' the town towards actions that contribute to reduction on waste and encouraging more healthy practices e.g. less mowing, planting native wild flowers.

The project begins to address one of the SDG 11 targets and two of the SDG 15 targets;

  • Target: 11.7 By 2030, provide universal access to safe, inclusive and accessible, green and public spaces, in particular for women and children, older persons and persons with disabilities

  • Indicator 11.7.1 Average share of the built-up area of cities that is open space for public use for all, by sex, age and persons with disabilities

  • Target: 15.9 By 2020, integrate ecosystem and biodiversity values into national and local planning, development processes, poverty reduction strategies and accounts

  • Indicator 15.9.1 Progress towards national targets established in accordance with Aichi Biodiversity Target 2 of the Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020

  • Target 15.A Mobilize and significantly increase financial resources from all sources to conserve and sustainably use biodiversity and ecosystems

  • Indicator 15.A. Official development assistance and public expenditure on conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity and ecosystems

From Waste to Taste proposed the development of a physical sculptural / horticultural trail with an augmented reality overlay that runs runs the length of Cahersiveen town; starting and finishing with two landmarks, Colaiste Na Sceilge and the newly reconstructed Saidbh’s Fort, behind the Old Barracks Cultural Heritage Centre. As a community project in partnership with Cahersiveen Tidy Towns, its key objectives and outcomes were; to re-imagine and utilise under-valued or wasted space in Cahersiveen and to draw attention to and value the local natural heritage and biodiversity including those plants often overlooked as weeds. Many of these plants have edible or medicinal importance, that although once common knowledge has since been forgotten.

Within Cahersiveen the trail encourages a creative, generative approach to community development that will also encourage dwell-time for residents and visitors alike and an engagement with the local natural heritage. By addressing the overarching aim of SDG 15 Life on Land the project aims to 'protect, restore and promote sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems' on a local, scalable level.

Proposed Trail Sites and AR Keys

The edible-medicinal sculpture trail is created using a participatory design-thinking approach to community development incorporating arts-led place-based interventions with social and environmental justice. The trail also operates as a vehicle for sharing a way of working and set of tools that going forward can be used to develop integrated approaches to local issues. Small groups of participants, using the pCr methodology commit to a specific site on the trail to encourage collaboration, ownership and creativity. Using the pCr design methodology enables each group to engage with personal interests and share knowledge, while developing and expanding existing skills, as well as learning new creative methods, skills and processes.

As a complete design process this includes negotiating access, surveying and engaging with local and national planning aims and policies. The group are then supported to fully address the qualities of a specific site; tangible and intangible e.g. prior use, ownership, its surroundings, while building a complex relationship and understanding with their site. By creatively reclamations of wasted space or under-used space in this way a longer-term sense of shared responsibility and maintenance for their site is cultivated. Each intervention on the trail becomes a context-responsive artwork that integrates low- maintenance native planting and Augmented Reality keys to share the story of the natural heritage of the area.

Design Methodology

Within the pCr framework there are three stages to a project; surveying the project landscape; evaluating and designing the project and finally implementing and maintaining the project, with additional tools that help to guide this process ethically and systemically.

To date, we have had 13 hours with 31 participants developing engagement in different ways with the physical sites using tools and exercises from the pCr design method, as well as media within the first phase of the OBREDIM audit. The OBREDIM mnemonic facilitates the gathering of objective and subjective data, as well as facilitating the discovery of anecdotal and historical, factual information, which are then playfully and experimentally remixed within the participants’ projects.

OBREDIM Log 1 (adapted McKeown 2008-15) forming the pCr audit (McKeown, 2015)

The mnemonic also provides a guiding framework for an itinerant idiosyncratic process that

reveals new perspectives and multiple understandings and encourages the participants to reconsider the context and any ‘problems’ or issues that are encountered within the project site. Finding the problem and developing locally grown solutions by understanding and

imagining things differently are integrated into the CoDesRes teaching and learning methods. As a facilitated arts-led learning process the participants’ imagination and shared knowledge is harnessed within a facilitated process of critical thinking to provoke a reconsideration of a known context. This also lends itself to a method of problem finding, a practical articulation of the steps in problem processing—shaping, defining and solving.

Problem defining and processing requires the application of creativity and vision from participants, what Donald Winnicott has called ‘creative illusion’ (1967), an imaginative process that precedes change through the ability to imagine things differently. This has also been called associational thinking and is considered, along with questioning, observing, networking and experimenting (Dyer et al, 2009) as one of the key skills of positive disruptors (Christensen, 2014). Dyer et al’s extensive research found that creativity is a function of both the mind and behaviour concluding ‘that if we can change behaviours we can change our creative impact’ (Froggett et al 2011:3).

The staged audit and design tool encourages participants to look at the familiar closely, imaginatively and within the context of a review of the broader ecosystem and the context in

which the participants operate and the issues sits. Application of the mnemonic provides a useful tactic to facilitate gathering the ecosystem’s local knowledge, an asset often undervalued. In combination with an artistic skillset, this knowledge is actualised within any project’s ecology. Using the OBREDIM method ensures the skills for assessing a localised context, including local policy issues and regulations, threats and opportunities can be structured and provoke new understanding.

OBREDIM sessions

With undervalued or wasted space, our familiarity can often mean that potential is overlooked. The pCr methodology uses the OBREDIM mnemonic and other specially adapted tools to encourage participants to look again, in different ways at the familiar. Two very simple exercises, often developed in early arts education; directional recording and zooming in and out, begin to provoke new responses to locations. The aim is to get participants practicing to gather as much information as possible from what they see or hear if the task is documenting the audio around them. Such exercises encourage close explorations of our world; sensory, relational, conceptual, factual, expressive while developing foundational observation skills.

The ability to observe and develop an attention to detail are valuable transferable skills that are often overlooked and although common within an early stage of arts education they maybe underdeveloped within other subjects. Directional recording encourages timed visual recording in each of the compass directions, serving to position the individual recording while they are encouraged to note specific details e.g. a house, how many windows, what colour, what shape is the roof etc or as many details as possible not earth or sky. The aim is not to accurately record everything aspect in the line of sight but to practice the development of observation and data gathering.

Directional Observation, Mannix point Oct, 2018

The zooming in and out exercise encourages individuals to consider perspective, both graphical and their point of view. At first glance the exercise can seem deceptively simple but the repeated action of zooming in and out and recording what is seen, encourages the ability to look closely at select details and then positioning those details within the big picture or broader context. Many are considered to be detail-orientated or big picture thinkers, yet being able to switch between these differing perspectives is what helps us recognise patterns that connect the details and which details matter most. The need to approach things from a systemic perspective, seeing the big picture of an ecological approach this skill becomes even more critical, integrating sound knowledge, the details within a network of organisms and processes.

As primary research, directional / audio documentation and zooming in and out exercises, whether using analogue or digital methods begin to build up a different understanding of a site that has previously been overlooked or undervalued. In conjunction with group discussion and secondary research e.g. history of site, anecdotal evidence, plant lore, the information gathered serves to highlight new potential and opportunities for the under-valued sites that will be part of the trail as well as developing transferable skills. We also explored the potential through the Media cohort of developing content for the AR trail. As part of the primary research, we also included two additional events to share input from local experts and encourage discussion and ideas on the potential of edible-medicinal plants and algae.

Peer-2- Peer Knowledge Networks

A key aspect of the CoDesRes project is to recognise and integrate the the myriad of expertise that is often in our communities but that maybe only identified with a certain aspect or operate within a certain context. Part of the pCr OBREDIM audit identifies the resources already available and how they can be maximised whether as voluntary or paid-for expertise.

The pCr methodology advocates for interdisciplinary approaches and tries to integrate local experts and their expertise into the projects that are designed using this approach. This can mean using the team's skills to help fundraise to buy-in expertise or identify unused resources that could as part of a collaborative partnership enable the meeting of shared aims.

Within the edible-medicinal trail we were delighted to be able to work with local experts; Niall Hogan, medical herbalist and John and Kerryann Fitzgerald, from Atlantic Irish Seaweed through the support of additional Local Agenda 21 funding. Both experts brought incredible knowledge to the project which was shared with a new 'audience' who in turn also shared their knowledge while shifting their perception of the location. The sharing of knowledge was beneficial to both parties and opened up new avenues for the practitioners' skills through increased awareness of what they have to offer and in turn, lead to more business opportunities. We were also able to work with local Landscape architect / designer and Tidy Town's member James McCarthy who developed a sensitive planting plan, which includes the holy well, the town park and other sites. Work on this will resume in September after the summer break.

Through a local multiplier effect the impact of any new business opportunities circulate in the community and increase the value of the initial investment. In addition to local economic benefits embedding this knowledge within the project and the trail, the expertise can be shared more widely and offer simple easily achievable systemically-focused solutions to the issue of under-valued or wasted space.

Niall Hogan, medical herbalist - Incredible Edibles and Medicinal Plants walk

Niall Hogan, Blackberry leaves, some of our attendants, April 2018 image A.McKeown

Niall is a herbalist, botanist, plant scientist and photographer based in S. Kerry and in April we were lucky enough to have him lead a walk along the proposed trail identifying the edible-medicinal qualities of many of the native plants that were growing and would often be considered as weeds or to have no value. During the walk, Niall introduced us to the folklore and the forgotten medical benefits of the vast array of plants that commonly thrive in wild or unmanaged spaces. These included plants like blackberry or bramble leaves, more anti-oxidants than green tea and give a blackberry taste if chewed, or daisies. Daisies have with edible flowers and leaves rich in vitamin C, or when the leaves are used as an infusion can be a mosquito repellant or the macerated flowers used as a cough remedy.

Much of the information we discovered and our secondary research will be included in the AR overlay of the trail, accessible to those who weren't able to attend Niall's walk but that might live or visit Cahersiveen.

Atlantic Irish Seaweed Information and Tasting Event

Kerry, in the South West of Ireland, bounded by the River Shannon on the Clare Kerry border with Cork faces the Atlantic Ocean with three peninsulas; Dingle, Iveragh and a portion of the Beara peninsula with Co. Cork. Its inlets and coves are home to about 625 of the world's approx 10,000 seaweed species (AIS, 2018). Seaweed is a general term used to describe many different species of marine algae, increasingly referred to as sea-vegetables they are a local under-valued food source packed with minerals, trace elements, anti oxidants and nutrients.

Cahersiveen is located at the mouth of the Fertha where it enters the Atlantic, on the northern side of the Iveragh Peninsula. This tidal river has historically shaped the town's evolution, giving the edible-medicinal qualities of seaweed a prominent contemporary role in local heritage; natural and cultural. As part of the Waste to Taste's aims to share the knowledge and availability of locally, sustainable under-valued edible-medicinal plants, CoDesRes invited John and Kerryann Fitzgerald as part of an information and tasting evening. The evening included an informative informal exploration of the edible-medicinal three course tasting menu for 18 people, accompanied by flavoured Kombucha's and Kefirs that also used seaweed in their ingredients.

Introduction to edible and medicinal benefits of seaweed images A.McKeown and D.O'Shea

As part of the process, we were able to offer six local residents Augmented Reality (AR) basic training through SMARTlab Skellig and media training that initiated the development of content for the AR trail. This aspect of the project, also begins to address a targets within SDG 4 Quality Education;-

  • Target: 4.4 By 2030, substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship

  • Indicator: 4.4.1 Proportion of youth and adults with information and communications technology (ICT) skills, by type of skill

​The augmented reality layer provides an access point to the knowledge held within the project that enables residents and visitors alike to utilise contemporary technology for informal learning. More updates to follow in our winter newsletter, but until then; enjoy the summer.


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