Multisensory multispecies storytelling to engage disadvantaged groups in changing landscapes

Lead Research Organisation: Edge Hill University
Department Name: Creative Arts

Abstract

The project will use multispecies storytelling to engage disadvantaged groups in the north west in decision making processes about landscape and land use. The project follows on from the successful AHRC 'Connecting disadvantaged young people with landscape through arts', 'Stories2Connect' and 'Multispecies Storytelling: More than human narratives about landscape' projects, all of which use storytelling in participatory ways. These projects have worked with disadvantaged and disabled young people, children, and diverse groups of community farm users. The methods and learning gained from previous projects are being brought together and synthesised to engage new audiences, collaborate with new stakeholder organisations and develop new themes of work. Specifically, the project will use multispecies storytelling to develop multisensory artefacts about landscape that capture the voices of marginalised communities and disadvantaged groups and respond to a variety of different ways of making sense of the world. Understanding a landscape from the 'memory' of an oak tree, 'seeing' the land as a bee might, experiencing a space as a soundscape or through touch or smell invites thinking about landscape and land use from different perspectives, through other timeframes and scales. Multispecies approaches have been effective in engaging people with issues related to biodiversity loss and climate change and can encourage identifications and connections with land, environments and other species who inhabit them. They also prompt consideration of whose stories about landscape are being told, and who is enabled to tell them.

The follow on funding will be used to expand work with organisations linked to the existing projects and enhance the reach and impact of the projects with new stakeholder organisations. Connections with Burscough Community Farm, Rusland Horizons Trust, Blackpool Council, Art Gene, the Society for Children's Book Writers and Illustrators, local artists and professional storytellers will be maintained and new partnerships with the National Autistic Society, Natural England, Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust Martin Mere, Williamson Art Gallery and Museum and The Chapel Gallery will be enabled by the follow on funding. Through the partners, the project will continue to work with community farm users and young people with disabilities and will also include young people with autism, facilitated by the National Autistic Society. The project will, through new and existing partners, expand the geographical coverage of the previous projects further across the north west to reach new audiences through the partner organisations that have agreed to provide venues for exhibitions and events.

The project will utilise innovative participatory methodologies and resources developed in the previous projects which will be applied in the co-creation of a new series of multisensory artefacts that will be curated and exhibited at different indoor and outdoor sites across the north west. The multisensory artefacts and environments developed will use multispecies storytelling and, as well as visual aspects, may also employ, for example, sound, smell, space and touch to respond to the needs and understandings of a wide range of potential users, rather than prioritising traditional or limited sensory engagements with the world. The exhibitions will be accompanied by key events to which decision makers from stakeholder groups and those organisations with vested interests in landscape and land use will be invited.

Planned Impact

The activities will transfer expertise and knowledge from academic institutions to the public domain. The knowledge exchange processes of the original 'Multispecies Storytelling' network and 'Connecting Disadvantaged Young People with Landscape through Arts' projects, working with community groups and organisations, will be extended and strengthened. Distribution of our methodologies in accessible and usable forms to organisations and groups will enhance the participation of marginalised people in decisions about issues that are of immediate concern to them.

The focus on landscape and the natural environment will give adults, children and young people opportunities to experience the outdoor environment close to where they live, enabling the related well-documented benefits to health and well-being. This research will benefit diverse groups by recognising their importance as co-producers of knowledge about land and landscape.

The project also goes beyond human stakeholder groups and acknowledges that other species shape the landscape and have interests in its use. Species other than humans are considered stakeholders in this project and through multispecies storytelling both human and more-than-human stakeholders are given a voice. This is intended to support local community empowerment, acknowledge the importance of biodiversity to landscape, and inform future decision-making processes that rely on understanding the non-monetary values attached to land, landscape and the species who inhabit them.

Land owners and organisations such as the National Trust, National Autistic Society, Burscough Community Farm, Wildfowl and Wetland Trust, and Natural England will benefit from being able to access the views and contributions of marginalised groups presented in accessible ways, when engaged in making decisions. They will also have access to methods for conducting their own research with marginalised groups when considering new projects or initiatives.

Artists using a wide range of modes and media (poets, creative writers, artists, storytellers, song-writers) will be employed by the groups. This will strengthen community bonds with the arts for future projects. The Grundy Art Gallery, Williamson Art Gallery and Museum and Chapel Gallery will benefit from enhanced engagement from regional communities and increased footfall from disadvantaged groups who would not normally access such spaces.

Environmental groups and charities who want to involve communities in appreciating and connecting with their local environment will benefit from receiving the final versions of the resources for conducting workshops, and being empowered to continue their environmental work.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description Multisensory multispecies storytelling introductory video 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Creation of an video for the Landscape Decisions YouTube channel to introduce the project and outline the objectives
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GgOgW-ULg98&list=PLrlZ6FipN5mlo3kj8f-eKGVcc9Mfa2576&index=3
 
Description Website 
Form Of Engagement Activity Engagement focused website, blog or social media channel
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Creation of a project website to reach a variety of audiences
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://sites.edgehill.ac.uk/multisensorymultispecies/