^^nature^s way^^

Design research update

November 3, 2021

As a key part of our design process, we have spent the last few months focusing our research on the brilliant nature- based, community projects that exist throughout Walsall.

We have been incredibly lucky to have been welcomed so warmly into these communities and we have learned so much from them – from the motivation that inspires action to the knowledge that makes it all happen. We have also learnt a great deal about some of the biggest challenges that face community-led, grass-root projects but at the same time, witnessed the entrepreneurial tenacity of many individuals and the strength of collaboration in creatively overcoming these.

We have met with 8 community gardens and allotments, 4 public parks, 5 nature-based activity schemes, 2 pocket-gardens and are in ongoing conversations with 3 major organisations in Walsall. At the same time, our post-doc researchers Maria and Amy have conducted more than 20 interviews with local, regional and national funding bodies, local authorities, landscape architects, healthcare professionals and conservationists. 


A series of planters

What’s Next?

We are now at a stage where we can start turning all of this information into a tangible, practical and useful ‘tool’.

Our aim is to design something that can help empower and support local people and communities to start, build and maintain their own nature- based community project.


Hot takes 

  1. Complicated bureaucracy slows down momentum.
  2. Local knowledge is in abundance but it’s about who you know and how to tap into it.
  3. There’s a diversity of scale, of experience, of people and projects – the individual and collective impact they are having in their communities is a vision of hope that should be shared, celebrated and replicated.


How do we hope to address these?

We want to create an interactive online toolkit that helps people to navigate the world of voluntary and community organisations and projects, with a focus on nature-based activities that impact societal health and wellbeing.



What are our goals?

  • To inspire – Using maps, narratives and case-studies to inspire new individuals, groups or organisations to turn ideas into reality. To recognise the variety of different projects or activities that can strengthen community resilience and to plant seeds of motivation.
  • To inform – Helping people to navigate the complexities of the system in order to understand the best communication routes, directing people to reliable and practical resources, and providing bite size information and top tips from local experts who are running or volunteering in nature-based community projects.
  • To celebrate – By shining a spotlight on those communities and individuals who are already doing this- the creative ways they have overcome obstacles that may arise and the impact they are having on society and the environment.


 In order for us to build something useful and practical, we are now looking to gather honest, open feedback on some early ideas.

If you are interested in or have experience with nature-based community projects, we would highly appreciate if you could fill out this short questionnaire. It will take around 5 minutes of your time and will provide us with a valuable indication of whether what we are making suits the needs of those we are hoping to support: people like you!


Fill in our questionnaire here!

Image of a poppy

November workshops

We want to continue to absorb and celebrate the  considerable expertise we encountered in Walsall, and will be hosting several workshops the week commencing the 22nd November 2021.

The aim of these workshops will be to:

  • Go over our findings  in more detail, to ensure we haven’t missed anything
  • Test and discuss early ideas
  • Collaboratively create stories based on what is going on in Walsall

These workshops will be held virtually online to allow for greater flexibility.