The project has been working with Gwenno Edwards, an innovation and design consultant who works mainly with the public and civic sectors. She has led projects that design new solutions for complex problems with a wide variety of clients across the UK including schools, NHS Trusts, local authority teams and community groups. We invited Gwenno to tell us a bit more about her work and experience in bringing people’s perspectives and capabilities to the heart of co-design projects, and why she’s excited to be part of this project.
I’ve always been interested in the role of creativity in social and environmental justice. To build a fairer society, you have to be able to imagine it. To persuade others to come along for the ride, you have to paint a picture of what better could look like.
My work is centred around the belief that the most complex social and environmental challenges that are facing us cannot be solved by experts, academics, politicians and policymakers alone. Despite solutions and ideas often existing within our communities, we fail to see people’s capabilities or hear their perspectives.
I use participatory research and co-design methods to change the balance of power about who gets to come up with ideas and make decisions about things that affect our day to day lives.
I started working on a part time freelance basis for the Summit to Sea project over the summer of 2020. It was serendipitous that Siân (Project Development Officer) and I met whilst I was delivering a training for Eden Project Communities on how to make online community engagement events more meaningful. When she told me about Summit to Sea I could not wait to get involved. Half of my family are based in the area and I have spent countless weekend and summer holidays kicking the bar, swimming in the sea in Borth, walking the coastal path, and hiking past the old lead and silver mines. Aber is one of the places that I call home despite being based in London at the moment.
Summit to Sea is a very exciting opportunity since projects with ample time for co-design are rare to come by. This means that there is time for conversation, for building relationships, for asking lots of questions, and for building on each other’s ideas. I miss face to face interaction and mulling over things with a cup of tea, but I am excited by the opportunities that virtual engagement brings. It definitely doesn’t work for everyone, but it can be more accessible and inclusive for some. An important principle for people working on a co-design project, is to go to where people are instead of expecting them to come to you. Until we can safely meet in local cafes, there’s nowhere closer than on a screen in everyone’s home!
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