WAVE Living Lab Methods

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Our WAVE Living Labs aim at creating knowledge, ideas and actions for more sustainable water areas in Europe.

Living Labs are initiated by each partner university in close cooperation with their local communities.

This page presents an overview of methods and approaches used in our living labs. Their goal is to bring universities and their community environment into a collaborative design process.

The methods are clustered into three phases starting from reaching out to the community to the actual process of creating something new in a collaborative way.

Feel free to test these approaches in your own living lab or any educational context aiming at building alternative futures for our local landscapes.

Understanding, empathizing and building trust

The methods presented here not only help in creating bottom-up local knowledge about landscape challenges and potentials. By implementing them, all participants enter a process of mutual understanding. Building this level of trust is crucial for the success of a living lab process.

Storytelling (Friedrich, Irina: Tartu + Constanta IP)

Go-Along Walk (Friedrich, Irina, Gabriel: Tartu + Constanta IP, Dachau IP)

Photovoice and Cellphone Diaries (Ellen: Nürtingen Lab, Tartu IP)

Power Mapping (Ellen: Freising/Dachau, Tartu, Naples, Constanta IP, Brussels Lab)

Mapping potentials and conflicts (Jekaterina, Ingrid, Natasha: Freising/Dachau, Tartu, Naples, Constanta IP, Brussels Lab)

Landscape Role Play - Nature constellations (Jeroen, Friedrich + Toomas)

Nature constellations are originated from the family, organizational and structural constellations.

What is special about the nature constellations lies on the one hand in the vastness of the system boundaries, animals, plants and their habitats are just as much a part of them as humans.

On the other hand, in the position of humans in the system, they are not the center but a part. With this expansion, the relativity of human values, norms and hierarchies becomes visible.

Knowledge follows experience and this follows action: The method uses the most original form of learning, one's own actions and experiences.

In a room or outdoors, the participants assume the role of plants, animals, habitats, buildings and people. A "spatial language" develops between the representatives, which we basically know but hardly pay attention to. In this way, states, relationships and developments of systems become visible.

The starting point of the nature constellations are the participants' questions about the world around us and, above all, about our relationship to it.

The effect is threefold;

All participants first have many, often very moving experiences. Be it in the representation of an ancient linden tree, as a bird in a swarm or as an old herbalist who is deeply connected to her medicinal plants.

Knowledge emerges from these experiences. Some of these arise spontaneously. For example, one can see from the representative experience of a linden tree that this naturalness of standing in a landscape and being part of it lies within one's own capacity for experience, and that's quite a lot! Frequently, further insights only become apparent later, especially with regard to the interactions within the system that has been set up. We were able to see again and again that trees are definitely turned towards us, only we are not receptive.

The findings result in solution tips and approaches. Based on the above-mentioned interaction between tree and human being, one can learn, for example, which of our feelings we "perceive" and need to promote in order to experience nature more consciously and to connect with it associate.

Anyone who has raised a concern or question has the opportunity to look at the interactions in the system from the outside. This outside view opens up a new perspective on the system and its dynamics. Hitherto unrecognised hierarchies, resources, tensions, etc. become visible and that alone is enlightening and clarifying. In the course of the constellation it becomes visible which changes have a liberating effect on the system.

(source: https://naturdialog.ch/natur-dialog/methode.php)

Framing themes and setting goals

Once the landscape has been explored and explained with the above mentioned methods, many issues and topics will be on the table. We have limited time and resources, so priorities have to be set in an inclusive and participatory way. The difficult aspect here is to find the right balance between feasible short term action and over-simplification, given that landscape problems are often multidimensional and wicked. The following methods help in setting collective goals in order to build a shared vision. Such shared vision can become the basis for building a strategy leading to concrete and doable first steps.

Future Workshop (Ellen: Nürtingen Lab, maybe Freising IP)

Participatory Decision Making(Jeroen and Ellen, Nominal Group Technique)

Nominal group technique (NGT) is a structured method for group brainstorming that encourages contributions from everyone and facilitates quick agreement on the relative importance of issues, problems, or solutions. Team members begin by writing down their ideas, then selecting which idea they feel is best. Once team members are ready, everyone presents their favorite idea, and the suggestions are then discussed and prioritized by the entire group using a point system.

NGT combines the importance ratings of individual group members into the final weighted priorities of the group. It supports collaborative thinking for group members who are less vocal then others or there is a need that all participants actively participate. It can also highlight differences of opinion, that otherwise might be not become apparent.

The method can be applied on site with paper and pen collecting the contributions on a flip chart and stickers for voting. On-line, one can make use of a digital tool such as mural.co or padlet. It is important to structure the time well and to appoint a facilitator for timing, clarifying, categorising and prioritising the contributions. The group should not be too big, because otherwise the participants may lose their interest and focus. An on site session can last a bit longer than an online. The maximum time also depends on the commitment and interest of the participants for the issues addressed.

General steps for NGT

Working a group in a collaborative way might consist of the following steps:

  1. State the problem, question, or issue that is the subject of the brainstorming and ensure that everyone understands.
  2. Each team member silently thinks of solutions or ideas that come to mind when considering the problem and writes down as many as possible in a set period of time (5 to 10 minutes).
  3. Each member states aloud one idea. The facilitator records it on the flipchart.
  4. No discussion is allowed, not even questions for clarification.
  5. Ideas given do not need to be from the team members' written lists. Indeed, as time goes on, many ideas will not be found on their original lists.
  6. A member may "pass" his or her turn and may then add an idea on a subsequent turn.
  7. Continue around the group until all members pass or until an agreed-upon length of time.
  8. Discuss each idea in turn. Wording may be changed only when the idea’s originator agrees. Ideas may be stricken from the list only by unanimous agreement or when there are duplicates. Discussion may clarify meaning, explain logic or analysis, raise and answer questions, or state agreement or disagreement. With the help of the facilitator the group may also combine ideas into categories.
  9. Prioritize the recorded ideas in relation to the original question using multivoting or list reduction. Typically, the solution with the highest total ranking is selected as the final decision. Other variations include estimating the amount of work required to implement each solution by assigning it a point value; the higher the point value, the more work involved.

An example of the nominal group technique within a study setting is given by Chevalier and Buckles.

Steps for a student group to explore mapping challenges

Invite students to think of an event/situation that illustrated a meaningful challenge they had/have to face and writes this on a card (possible details on the back).

Students form groups around similar challenge cards. Those who do not know which group to join, explain what their cards are about, and can be ‘adopted’ by a group.

Each group prepares a skit to represent the key challenge that matters most to them.

Listening to the presentation, students note down what they find the most important after all: the one they first thought of or one they heard. After the presentations the facilitator invites all to join the group that addresses the challenge they consider most important.

Newly formed groups prepare a pitch on why their challenge should matter greatly to everyone and how they could respond to it.

After the presentation, the facilitator describes recent findings from a refereed journal on the challenges faced by this type of stakeholders. Asks the group to compare and discuss.

All ends with a brief discussion on have the methods of action inquiry differ from the conventional approach and tools they used before.

(PAR, Theory and Methods, Chevalier and Buckles, 2020, p 119)

Scenario planning(Ellen: use course material, Simon video, Nürtingen Lab, Naples IP, Brussels Lab)

Designing together

Once the community has developed its goals, strategy, design themes and priorities, the actual co-design can start. However, there is often no clear linear distinction between these three phases. Design ideas might inspire new goals and lead to a change in the strategy. Or new people come on the scene as they are intrigued or inspired by the design ideas. They might bring in new knowledge and needs and the design will further evolve.

Transect(Ingrid, Olaf: Dachau IP, Naples IP)

Mapping Resources through neighborhood Exploration (Alessandra, Antonio: Naples, Constanta IP)

Dirty design(Sonja, IP Dachau)

Urban gaming(Didier, Dana: Brussels Lab, maybe Bucharest Lab)

Co-creative design sessions (Sonja, IP Dachau)

Prototyping and interventions (Katja: maybe use LED2LEAP Material, all IPs)