Pot Art

Pot Art
Pot Art

David Benyon and I are writing a ‘provocation’ for the Designing Interactive Systems – Space, Place, Interface (DIS 2017) conference in Edinburgh 10th-14th June at the Assembly Rooms.

Our ‘poster’ will be a fruit tree guild in a pot that will demonstrate the idea of companion planting and the layers used in designing permaculture gardens. The exhibit will act as a gateway to our research, and we’re hopeful that we’ll have some interactive aspects available too by then – maybe one of the GROW Observatory’s soil sensors and some audio-visual-haptic experience.

Our research concerns blending permaculture and user-experience, and the pot-garden is a prototype of our larger work at Edinburgh Napier’s Merchiston campus where we’re developing a full garden space along these lines.

Gardening Scotland 2017

Gardening Scotland 2017
Gardening Scotland 2017

Very pleased to announce that we’ve recently managed to secure an exhibitors space at the upcoming Scotland’s Gardening Festival, 2-4th June 2017 at the Royal Highland Centre.

We’ll be exhibiting in the palette garden area with a permaculture guild augmented with various interactive technologies.

More details to follow when we have them….

GROW Observatory

GROW Observatory
GROW Observatory

Nick Taylor (University of Dundee) from the GROW Observatory EU project attended our workshop on Sustainable HCI – Insights from Permaculture Workshop back in September 2016.

The GROW Observatory is “a citizens’ observatory for growers, researchers and decision makers.” and I’m attending a SICSA workshop they’re running on March 2nd around grassroots smart cities, which includes speakers from GROW and Making Sense (a related EU citizen sensing project).

We’re also hoping to be a part of the GROW Observatory’s pilot campaign. More details to follow…..

Merchiston Gardens

Lions Gate Garden looking north.
Lions Gate Garden looking north.

The Lions Gate Garden project with its associated kitchen garden off-shoot continues to progress and pull in stakeholders and interested parties.

A meeting has been scheduled for 9th March involving Properties & Facilities, Information Systems/Library and the School of Computing to move the project further along. The idea is to embed our project within the grander plans for Merchiston, along the Creative Campus theme.

We’re also hoping to work closely with the design department on lighting and haptic interactions, and on the design of specific garden elements, such as pots, markers, touch-points, bird-boxes etc.

Kitchen Garden space looking east
Kitchen Garden space looking east

Our ideas are gaining traction. That is, to provide spaces for students and staff to unwind, learn, experiment, entertain, play and perform, within a permaculture garden setting that has novel, engaging, fun, thought-provoking, digitally triggered experiences to hand, if you so wish to engage with them.

Key to the success of the project is an outward-facing approach. We’re keen to make the edges of the project, transitional zones where university meets public, and to foster close-working relationships with local communities, businesses, charities and individuals.

Merchiston Gardens plans
Merchiston Gardens plans

I’ve been spending necessary time within the two campus spaces to get a feel for their particular environments and to allow the creative juices to flow. Drawings, photographs and notes are accumulating at a fair pace now, and along with the extensive reading I’ve been doing on permaculture, garden design and sustainable HCI (I’m building a library wall at home to accommodate all the texts), and the 15 years of expertise I have in user-experience practice (and even longer association with media production) – new ideas are beginning to emerge from the ether. Exciting times ahead.

Permaculture Design Certificate #1

Permaculture Design Certificate at Garden Cottage

Garden Cottage
Garden Cottage

In late January I attended the first of six weekend workshops to gain my Permaculture Design Certificate.

A group of twelve like-minded souls participated in what was an inspiring two-day introduction. Graham and Nancy Bell provided a warm and welcoming atmosphere, and many new friendships were forged.

We surveyed a wide spectrum of the permaculture view, alternating between garden, kitchen and living room, engaged in practical, philosophical and methodological interactions.

I also filmed Graham doing a demonstration of how to graft plants.

By the end of the weekend – everyone was enthused, and the drive home with some fellow participants was one alive with ideas and possibilities.

Third year group interactions

Third Year Group Projects

Solar powered BLE beacon development kit
Solar powered BLE beacon development kit

We have two third year group projects on the go. One project is looking at audio interactions in a permaculture garden setting, using solar-powered BLE sensors, particularly focusing on energy requirements and the quality/nuances of transitions between beacons. The other group are looking at video interactions in garden spaces, triggered by wood-crafted anchors, for example designed QR/AR codes.

Changeworks and Napier

Much has been happening on the permaculture/user experience project since the start of the year.

Changeworks meeting

Changeworks Napier

In early January Billie O’Neill and myself met with Holly Benyon and Amanda Palmer to discuss how Napier and Changeworks could collaborate on projects. Holly provided us with information on grey-water harvesting technology and Bille and Amanda discussed ways that Changeworks could help Estates with waste management. We then proceeded to have a walk-about the Lions Gate Garden and the proposed area for a kitchen garden.

It was agreed that once our Merchiston Garden projects are up-and-running then co-operation between the two organisations could likely take the form of community education. The gardens could be utilized as spaces for community groups/businesses/individuals to engage with the university and Changeworks could provide expertise in this area, in terms of workshops and learning materials.

Allotment Garden

After over 10 years on the waiting list I received the key for my allotment on Ferry Road last week. It’s a half-plot – a five by fifteen metres strip, rented from the council for £54.50 per year.

Many thanks go to Ian Woolard at Edinburgh Council for his enthusiasm and help in finalising the tenancy.

Also, huge thanks to the previous tenant Nancy Dryburgh for; leaving the plot in fine condition; the kind and encouraging hand-over letter; and the books – especially the ‘Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening’ left for me in the greenhouse.

Looking forward to permaculturising the space, growing northern-hardy foodstuffs for the family table, and experimenting in weird and wonderful ways.

We also have a resident fox – which my nephew has called Miller.

allotment
Allotment looking north

Permaculture Association VKRF Bid Success: Information for Action on Climate Change

Wonderful news that our bid for V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation funding has been successful!

Congratulations to Chris and Andy at the Permaculture Association for their enormous contribution and to everyone around the globe who is a part of this exciting future – what a great Christmas present!

Looking forward to working as user-experience designer via Edinburgh Napier University on this international project with colleagues from throughout the UK, Europe, the United States and Australia. In these difficult times this is a real success.

V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation
V. Kann Rasmussen Foundation