GSD

Generators of Sustainable Development

A Giant Leap

A Giant Leap is a collaborative initative run by the Amicitia social enterprise from Athenry and commissioned by Science Gallery Dublin to co-create exhibition pieces with communities and speculate on future worlds through the material of plastic.

This formed part of PLASTIC, a national touring exhibition and Science Gallery Dublin’s first adventure outside of Dublin. Our brief covers two locations with artistic works in Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda and the new gardens of the Hunt Museum in Limerick. This project touches on two important elements which supports our work as development education practitioners.

Firstly, by co-designing our exhibition pieces we are actively involving participants in the creative process and bringing complex questions about sustainability forward in a playful and interactive way. Secondly, the process of visioning encourages us to think about the sustainable, long-term futures we want to transition towards. By collectively engaging in this process we can step out of the muddy problems of the present. The contradictions of modern society tend to overwhelm and distort our thinking. Futures-thinking through scenario development and prototyping allows us to envisage new worlds and anticipate the possible outcomes of the current changes we are undergoing – both positive and negative, nurturing and destructive.

Challenge

A Giant Leap is a collaborative initiative run by the Amicitia social enterprise from Athenry and commissioned by Science Gallery Dublin to co-create exhibition pieces with communities and speculate on future worlds through the material of plastic. This formed part of PLASTIC, a national touring exhibition and Science Gallery Dublin’s first adventure outside of Dublin. Our brief covers two locations with artistic works in Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda and the new gardens of the Hunt Museum in Limerick. This project touches on two important elements which supports our work as development education practitioners. Firstly, by co-designing our exhibition pieces we are actively involving participants in the creative process and bringing complex questions about sustainability forward in a playful and interactive way. Secondly, the process of visioning encourages us to think about the sustainable, long-term futures we want to transition towards. By collectively engaging in this process we can step out of the muddy problems of the present. The contradictions of modern society tend to overwhelm and distort our thinking. Futures-thinking through scenario development and prototyping allows us to envisage new worlds and anticipate the possible outcomes of the current changes we are undergoing – both positive and negative, nurturing and destructive.

Target group

A Giant Leap is a collective effort involving institutions, communities, artists and educators. First commissioned by Science Gallery Dublin from Trinity College the programme covers two urban locations, Drogheda and Limerick. In these areas they work with local community members through a process of speculative design to co-create future scenarios that are then translated into artistic pieces for the public by a groups of artists with a diverse set of skills. Working in this transdisciplinary way allows us to get to the heart of sustainable development and discuss complex topics in a fun and engaging way. The first output of this project, from Drogheda, was delivered online (due to Covid-19 restrictions) in 2021. The second piece, in Limerick, will be delivered in February 2022 as part of the Belonging Exhibition funded by the European Investment Bank. The project has also been awarded funding through the LEADER programme to expand into schools in East Galway in 2022. Eight schools from the area have agreed to participate with the support of Galway and Roscommon ETB. As they grow the project to more locations they continue to widen our network of collaborators and work together to deliver high quality development education programmes.

Solution

Over consumption of plastics, climate breakdown and biodiversity loss suggest that the coming decades will be turbulent and subject to great upheaval. Speculative design is a design practice that is concerned with future design proposals of a critical nature. Through participatory workshops and experiential learning they give participants the opportunity to stretch their imaginations and develop new and boundary-pushing systems and prototypes from future worlds that they want to navigate towards. This approach helps people to understand that the 'wicked' problems in society are always interconnected, interdependent and they manifest in place and culture-specific ways. They recognise that new knowledge and skill-sets will be required to address these problems and it is necessary to provoke conversations related to this now rather than wait any longer. 3 of 5 Through A Giant Leap, they aim to inspire a new audience to interrogate their own everyday relationship with sustainability and the pitfalls of throwaway culture. A Giant Leap is a development education programme embedded within the Amicitia social enterprise project in Athenry, Co. Galway. Through this organisation they deliver a range of place-based projects aimed at revitalising a rural community. These projects include our social hub which is a centre of learning and education and will soon include a community kitchen and cafe. Alongside this they have just launched our Sustainable Energy Community project funded by SEAI and Galway County Council. This highlights the systematic approach they take to sustainable development with an understanding that education is fundamental to the implementation of these projects and as a means to justly transition a rural community to a greener tomorrow. A Giant Leap is also a collaborative effort and co-creation will only be effective if they find new ways of working together that are not overly reliant on 'experts' or outside help. Rather they favour an approach to learning that is inclusive, participatory and community-led. They have seen the growth in participants involved with our various projects including disability groups who have new confidence through peer learning in our social hub and participants on A Giant Leap, many of whom worked with artists for the very first time. This fosters agency and an appreciation that everyone has a role to play in the sustainable development of their local community regardless of age or ability. The challenge is to create the space and conversations to allow this to happen in engaging and creative ways.

Innovation

The Covid-19 pandemic caused considerable disruption to our project, as it has done with many organisations but the adaptation process to respond to this has thought us valuable lessons and strengthened the resilience of our network as a whole. They thankfully, had completed the co-creation workshops before lockdowns closed much of society. But they they’re then confronted with the problem of creating our exhibition piece with a distributed team and no access to our venue, the Highlanes Gallery in Drogheda. The output of the co-creation workshops called on us to create an exhibition piece that would not have translated very they’ll in a purely digital form. Rather than let this disrupt the project they sourced an old farm shed where they could continue to work in isolation on the exhibition piece. Over the course of a month, this farm shed, in a small rural village, was transformed into a gallery space of a similar size and space to the one they would have been using in Drogheda. In the materials accompanying this application they have presented before and after images of this space. The transformation of this space highlights the value of taking an asset-led approach to community development. Rather than allowing the project to fail they sought to find positive solutions and came up with an alternative. Along with this they maximised the use to digital technologies including video and audio to create a piece that was a worthwhile reflection on the co-creation process. They also collaborated remotely with artists who assisted us with the creation of various elements of the project. 4 of 5 And these digital technologies have supported us to implement the next phase of A Giant Leap, our schools programme in East Galway. This project is supported through the LEADER programme and would have suffered considerable delays if they they’re not able to coordinate the first phase of the project using video communication with schools interested in taking part. This approached proved to be successful and they managed to get eight schools to sign up for the programme which is now due to take place in 2022 when hopefully restrictions will be lifted and it will be safe to work with students in their own environment. If there are further delays to the process they are confident that they will continue to adapt and learn as they work together to implement impactful solutions.

Unique Selling Point

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Impact

This project has been a collaborative effort. The first co-creation phase, involved 15 participants with workshops in Drogheda and Dublin. These workshops informed the creation of the first exhibition piece which was delivered by 8 artists, makers and actors working in collaboration. The next iteration of this project takes place in Limerick and so far they have engaged with 16 participants on this co-creation journey including ethnographic research with the Tidy Towns group in Limerick city. The Limerick exhibition will be delivered in February 2022 with both exhibitions reaching a global audience through the Science Gallery network. The schools programme will commence in 2022 with eight schools already signed up to take part this includes two Youth Reach schools in the area which support a number of members from the travelling community. They expect to work with over 250 students in this programme. They will co-create local interventions that will further raise awareness about sustainable development in their communities. They expect the digital output of this project to also reach a large audience. Our podcast and video materials have already reached an audience of over 1000 people. This will continue to grow in the future as they expand the project.

Feasibility / Transferability

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https://open.spotify.com/episode/1xTnQ4Sr3ubuhJmBUpnMCN?go=1&sp_cid=e2d9f5d4bc5588edf8f851e99c55e5b3&utm_source=embed_player_p&utm_medium=desktop&nd=1

website:

https://amicitia.org/projects/a-giant-leap/#

Idea
Potential 81%