Creative Insights and Environmental Humanities

Do you need community engagement in your project? Tried thinking creatively? Have you ever considered environmental humanities for inspiration?

Having spent many years in the project environment, helping organisations deliver their projects and programs, we love finding new and creative ways to tackle various project problems, particularly in the challenging space of natural hazard mitigation and resilience type projects.

There is a wealth of resources and support here in Australia for understanding natural environments and the perils or hazards they pose and how to mitigate against those hazards and live resiliently within those environments. But sometimes trying to enhance community awareness by tackling these subjects head-on can be difficult.

Following his trip to the USA in late 2019, Core Project Advisory Director Andy Wyer has been motivated to find new ways to connect and still achieve tangible benefits for people, communities, and projects.

Andy was introduced to a new idea in Los Angeles, by Dr. Tilly Hinton, an expert in research impact and cultural production. For example, one of Tilly’s projects focuses on the LA River; a once free-flowing and frequently flooding alluvial environment that’s currently more notable for its extensive fixed course concrete channels, which was built after a series of devastating floods in the early 20th century.

Tilly curates an online visual storytelling project called LA River X. It’s a curated, crowdsourced online gallery and archive, showing the Los Angeles River through photography, video, artwork, narrative and conversation. Its described as “democratized placemaking” and since launching in 2019, LA River X has had 29 guest hosts and prompted more than 58,000 audience engagements on Instagram. The University of California, Los Angeles and the Claremont Colleges have now built LA River X into their Environmental communications and environmental analysis curricula.

So, Tilly has taken an artistic endeavour, coupled it with sustainable insights and connected the community via social media using a shared curation for variety and an ongoing engagement with the natural environment from a diverse perspective.

The concept is borne from environmental humanities, a multi-disciplinary field that helps bridge traditional divides between the sciences and humanities and it seeks to enhance ways of relating to the natural world and the place of humans within it. Effectively it’s a way of synthesizing methods from different fields to create new ways of thinking.

Seeing this particular project first-hand inspired Andy to step away from his technical built environment perspective and consider more creative, artistic and humanities focussed approaches. Emphasising the need for a variety of educational angles on addressing community engagement, particularly with pressing environmental problems.

Reach out to us at Core Project Advisory. We would love to hear your thoughts on this or even help you with your project insights and learning.