Beth here, from Viaqqio
I feel very grateful to have been invited to participate in a research project being led by Steve Cinderby from the Stockholm Environment Institute at the University of York. It is an exciting project which will see me travel to Nairobi, Kenya next week to help to facilitate a series of workshops. The project is titled “Creative Methodological Innovations for Inclusive Sustainable Transport Planning” (CMiiST) and it is aiming to build a network of UK and East African arts and humanities academics, local urban planners, designers, NGOs, civil society groups and urban decision makers. As the project title suggests, the objective is to explore how creative methods such as art, performance, photography or storytelling can support transport planning. It has been awarded funding by the UK Arts and Humanities Research Council as part of their International Development in the Research Networking Scheme.
My awareness and use of creative methods has developed significantly over the past 5 years. At a transport consultancy I previously worked for we stumbled across the world of ‘service design’. Our eyes were opened to the different ways transport professionals can, and should, engage and collaborate with the actual people our transport systems should be serving. Now, at Viaqqio, most of our projects start with a phase of exploring real user needs (through a range of methods), before we move on to co-designing the tools, services or products that can deliver a change and offer value. A recent project working with people affected by dementia has been particularly illuminating for me. For many people with dementia, communication can be challenging so a traditional interview or consultation-type event could be largely inaccessible. However, the potential contributions from these individuals cannot be underestimated. As such, the team devised tailored activities – including drawing and storytelling – to create an inclusive design process by which all participants could offer their valued inputs.
Through participating in CMiiST’s workshops next week, I hope I can share some of my experiences of working with creative methods in transport. However, I am also looking forward to learning about new methods that I can bring into our future projects.