Associated with Waag Society, Hortus botanicus Leiden

Training the trainers – BigPicnic gets underway with second Partner meeting

BigPicnic Partners came together for a ‘Train the Trainers’ Meeting, their second Partner meeting, in October 2016. The three-day meeting was held in the Netherlands at Hortus Botanicus Leiden and the Waag society, Amsterdam. The aim of the meeting was to give botanic garden Partners the skills and tools they need to develop and manage co-creation projects and activities. The meeting was led by Waag society and programmed in collaboration with BGCI.

BigPicnic Partners gather for a photo outside the Waag Society building in Amsterdam at the 'Train the Trainers' meeting.

Partners gather for a photo outside the Waag Society building in Amsterdam. Credit: Waag Society.

Over the course of the meeting Partners were introduced to a methodology called ‘start a movement’- a five-stage co-creation approach, developed by Waag and supported by a workbook. These two elements form the toolkit Partners will draw upon in practising co-creation with their chosen audiences. Visitors from UCL who are part of the RRI Tools project also ran a session to introduce the concept of Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI) and how BigPicnic will contribute.

Day one began by exploring what the topic and context of the movement will be, getting a sense of what people are interested in and how to build connections between a message and its audiences. The afternoon focused on how to develop an ‘enabling environment’ for a movement which encourages and supports new behaviour. In the context of BigPicnic, the first of these enabling environments will be the Partners’ outreach exhibitions. Partners also began to pin down their individual mission, focus and target audiences. This helped to begin to map out what Partners want to achieve, who they are targeting, and how they can ensure the movement continues.

The evening kicked off with a fun DNA cocktail experiment to introduce Waag’s Wetlab, their on-site laboratory for open source and creative biotechnology, which allows hobbyists, designers, artists, scientists, hackers and more to access the tools to carry out their own biotechnical experiments. This was followed by two inspirational speeches, including a presentation on ‘Unpacking Food Security’ from Georgina Villarreal of the Rural Sociology Group at Wageningen University, followed by Merel van der Vaart of Muse and the University of Amsterdam, discussing the co-created exhibition ‘Oramics to Electronica’ at the Science Museum, London.

The next day, Partners began with training on audience and stakeholder recruitment before having a go at co-creation. Local teams of volunteers were invited to work with Partners to develop and plan initial outline structures and activities for an outreach exhibition. These outlines may form the basis for exhibitions and other activities that will be co-created with recruited audiences in each Partner country.

Colleagues from Hortus botanicus Leiden work together on a potential BigPicnic exhibition theme at the 'Train the Trainers' meeting.

Colleagues from Hortus botanicus Leiden, work together on a potential BigPicnic exhibition theme. Credit: Waag Society.

On the third and final day, Partners agreed upon a training programme for continued coaching in co-creation as the project progresses and reflected upon the prior two days. The meeting culminated with an introduction to Responsible Research and Innovation (RRI), in which Partners worked together to develop a shared understanding of RRI for the project.

Each participant at the Train the Trainer meeting was also given a workbook - ‘a co-creation journal’- to document their co-creation journey during the training. This workbook focuses on designing enabling environments and will support gardens to create their local co-creation strategies as the project progresses. Partners left the meeting possessing a wealth of new tools and ideas to begin planning co-creation sessions with their local communities.

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