Archive for September, 2022

Nature Action Project

We collaborated with Knowle West residents to explore wellbeing, nature, arts and technology. 

In collaboration with Senior Research Associate at University Hospitals Bristol Sarah Sauchelli we held a series of activities in Spring 2022 to explore health and wellbeing. These led to an active residents nature action group.

Our first workshop, facilitated by artist Emma Blake Morsi, was held at KWMC to spark conversations, share uniting interests and playfully dive into what role technology could play in improving health and wellbeing. To begin the workshop, Emma led us through a meditation and a photography exercise responding to creative prompts – this was a great way to encourage mindfulness through connecting to nature. These activities helped everyone to feel comfortable with each other and provided a gentle entry to technology. We then played with some other technologies, including: a pedometer, an AI-driven conversational app, and virtual reality headsets with computer-generated nature environments. This helped us to think about the potential applications of technologies and discuss how we felt about them.

“Here [in Knowle West] there is a lot of digital inequality. If you invite people to something about technology, you put people off… In the workshop, you raised awareness of technologies… I had never seen them before… It was fun.” – Local resident 

“You framed it in a way which put me in a comfortable frame of mind.” – Local resident 

After this, we had a stall at the Filwood Community Market to invite passers-by to try out virtual reality experiences of nature, while having conversations around accessibility of outdoor spaces. We also spoke to more people from the community at the Knowle West Health Park walks and other events to understand what nature and wellbeing offerings were already available within the area.  

We held a second workshop where we went deeper into health and wellbeing barriers and imagined new activities or applications of technologies, that could help improve access to green spaces and enhance wellbeing. We collectively mind-mapped ideas on how to address barriers. This included increasing representation, helping people feel supported, raising awareness of what’s on offer, and using inclusive language to invite people to activities.  

For people with disabilities, representation matters.” – Local resident

One solution was to create a ‘wellbeing passport’ that could connect people to specific activities that are suitable for their preferences and needs. Another idea was to create at-home experiences for people who are unable to leave their homes, for example due to a disability or Covid isolation. This could be a virtual reality experience of nature, or a pack of nature-based activities posted through their door.

The residents felt it was really important that those present at the workshop didn’t jump to a solution, but instead formed an ongoing ‘Nature Action’ group, that would meet regularly and develop ideas with the wider community. They stressed the importance of including more people and connecting more with the great things already going on.

Out of these discussions a group formed who met regularly. As part of this we prototyped two at-home packs including Emma Blake-Morsi’s activities; a mindfulness soundscape, photography adventure, reflection cards, and collaging activity.

“The way the Knowle West community works is that a lot of things are co-created” – Local resident  

As well as testing out at-home activities, the group got together to plan what activities they would like to make happen. We ran cyanotype workshops at local events such as the market, Knowle West Fest, and the Community Family Day at the Healthy Living Centre. This enabled us to bring nature to Knowle West residents in the places where they are already comfortable, rather than asking them to travel somewhere new or distant.

We also organised a networking lunch for all the local organisations involved in nature and health. This was to help identify needs, connect people, share knowledge and exchange ideas. Out of these we created a shared Padlet

The Nature Action group wanted to create short films in order to raise awareness and representation within green spaces. We organised a training workshop with female-led local film production company, Crisscross Films, teaching both locals and researchers how to film mini documentaries about nature and wellbeing.

The films included raising awareness of nearby woodlands, the experiences of children with autism at the beach, the life of bugs in local green spaces, tree trails in the Northern Slopes, and presenting the contrast between Bristol green spaces and the city centre. The workshop erased any hierarchy between researchers and locals, since both were completely new to filmmaking, allowing for more open discussions. 

“Build relationships slowly and to go with community. At their pace. The conversations with people open doors to other people. Follow the community” – Local resident 

Overall, we are pleased to say that our collaboration has increased awareness of Knowle West’s green spaces, the activities already available, and their benefit to wellbeing. The group are still active and keen to do more. Do get in touch if you’d like to join or connect.

We’d like to say a very special thank you to all of our collaborators: Beckie Thompson, Claudia Collins, Emma Blake Morsi, Nicola Percy, Ruth Hennell, Sarah Sauchelli Toran, Shaniya Campbell and Vincent White. 

Do you want to reconnect with nature too?  

We recommend vising the Knowle West website to find out about current groups and events. Knowle West Health Park host lots of walks and online exercise classes for a range of abilities. Wander Gather also host seasonal celebrations at The Roundhouse in Springfield Allotments with tea, folktales, and live music. If you fancy exploring some other green spaces, try starting with: Redcatch Community GardenInns Court Garden, Northern Slopes, Hengrove Mounds and Knowle West Alliance’s new community plot at Springfield Allotments.  

Contact Us

Knowle West Media Centre
Leinster Avenue
Knowle West
+44 (0) 117 903 0444

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