The Project in Process: A Visual Diary
Throughout the Project, we looked for a way to capture the essence of the experience without being invasive. We decided to work visually and capture moments whenever it felt right. Fifteen sessions were delivered in various locations throughout Perth, with sessions also held in Albany and Bunbury.
The sessions were accessible to people of all ages, with our youngest participants ranging between 4 and 7 years old, through to people in their late 60s and early 70s. The content of education and maker sessions was designed to adapt to the needs of each group, and we found that participants of all ages and backgrounds could engage with the content. Special thanks to the sculpture Students at North Metropolitan TAFE who hosted the first of the education sessions, as this allowed us to test the content with one of our target audiences.
The sessions at Yakamia Primary School and Manea Senio College were terrific, with students and teachers contributing to the learning experience. The other relates to the creation of the Toolkit and the realisation that we needed two versions. The first, and the one we set out to write, is now dubbed the Waste Advocates Guide and captures all the background information needed to pursue a systemic change in various contexts. However, we quickly realised that a more succinct implementation guide would be a more helpful resource for many people. The guides are designed to work together but can also be used separately. By creating both versions, we incorporated a much more significant chunk of participant feedback and our observations on how people reacted to the content.
The final highlight comes from seeing people's reactions during the maker sessions and activities as they turned non-traditional materials into everything from jewellery to mini-creatures, fidget spinners and mini-artworks. 85% of participants kept their creations, and when creations were returned, these were disassembled and the materials used for other sessions. When the materials first come out, the chain of reactions is surprise-concern-confusion-resistance-experimentation-creation-success and then back to surprise. While we see this quite often in sessions we run, the vast majority of participants in these sessions had never engaged with non-traditional materials creatively. A typical response after the sessions was, "I am now going to see what else I can do with stuff at home."
But what about COVID?
The first part of the year was challenging, and the social distancing requirements, the broader spread of COVID and a desire to keep everyone safe had an impact. However, rather than focus on the struggles, we scheduled the sessions for later in the grant to maximise participation and minimise disruptions. We recognise how fortunate we were to run all the sessions as scheduled, given how much of the Project was directed toward community engagement.
Hit me with some Stats
-15 sessions were delivered at different locations; 13 sessions were delivered in Perth, 1 in Albany and 1 in Bunbury.
-All 15 sessions were held in community-based venues.
-A total of 287 people were reached through the maker and education sessions.
-A further 3,430 people were reached through social media engagement.
-100% of materials used in the maker and education sessions were sustainably sourced for material donations via our suppliers.
-95% of the waste generated (offcuts from the education and maker sessions) stayed out of landfills.
-The GREAT with Purpose Toolkits are designed as online resources; only three copies were printed, two of which were gifts at the launch event, with one copy for REmida.
But was it a Success?
Yes it was, this was an ambitious project and we are very grateful for the support we received along the way. A core aim of the Project was the creation of a Toolkit and we ended up with two. And while we hoped to reach more people through the education and maker sessions, we learnt a lot from the participants we did engage with across the sessions.
As part of REmida's ongoing commitment to the Project, we are looking for opportunities to partner with organisations, schools and community to implement the Toolkit in their context. REmida will also continue to update the Toolkit as we receive feedback; at this stage we are scheduling updates every 6 months in response to user feedback.
REmida has an excellent track record at sticking with and growing its projects once the funded stage has finished. Jellyfish Plastics was launched in 2018 with support from the Waste Authority's Community and Industry Engagement program and is now in its 3rd post-funding year of growth and development. The GREAT with Purpose Toolkit will follow a similar pathway, and we look forward to seeing how the Project evolves in the coming years.
What did you Takeaway as Learnings form the Project?
The Project was far more time intensive than we had anticipated. Some of this was tied to working with a diverse group of stakeholders and balancing people's availability for conversations. Many people in this space work part-time, which was also true of the Project team, and arranging the logistics for the various sessions took more time than we had expected.
Alongside this, we also needed to both philosophically and practically unpack the contents of each session. Once we were 3 sessions in, we realised that some of our underlying assumptions about participant's knowledge were incorrect and we needed to adjust the content accordingly. We were also sharing material packs between facilitators to reduce waste, but we also had to fine tune the materials to match the upcoming sessions.
There is no easy answer to the quality versus quantity debate, but we did have to reframe how the sessions were advertised to encourage attendees. We recast the several of the education sessions as Jewelry making sessions and then wound the educational aspects through the making process, and this worked quite well. The benefit of the smaller numbers was the ability to explore questions and issues in more detail and the Toolkit provides further opportunities for engagement over the coming months.
Overall, we are very pleased with the project outcomes and especially the Toolkits. What the Project has done is sparked a broader review of our social media engagement and also the way our sessions are advertised. It may be the opting for more sessions, targeting smaller numbers, over a longer period of time may help to increase participant numbers.
Thank You to our Stakeholders
City of Albany
City of Bunbury
City of Bussleton
City of Vincent
Manea Senior College
North Metropolitan TAFE
Perth City Farm
The Repair Cafe
Town of Claremont
Yakamia Primary School