Shared Assets is a partner in the RECOMS consortium, a transdisciplinary project training fifteen early-stage researchers working on community environmental practice. What have they been up to? In this blog post, our secondees April and Sara provide you with an update of the latest developments, interesting readings and future events of the project.

RECOMS is a Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Network (MSCA-ITN) funded by the European commission. Over a three-year time frame, fifteen early stage researchers, based in six different countries, receive support and training from academic and non-academic partners in undertaking transdisciplinary PhDs on differing dimensions, cases and contexts of resourceful and resilient community environmental practice. Shared Assets has been working with six of the RECOMS fellows over the past year. Read about their virtual secondment experiences here.

Creative methods

Creative and visual methodologies form a cross-cutting theme in the training events and outputs of RECOMS. These methods include empathetic, artistic, narrative, or aesthetic expression as the basis for investigating, intervening, creating knowledge, and sharing information. Last year RECOMS published a creative method toolkit, a database with various filters, which helps researchers and change agents to find the most feasible methods of engagement. Furthermore, this summer, a book will be published, titled ‘Researching, communicating and nurturing environmental practice: a transdisciplinary guide to creative and collaborative methods for researchers’ edited by Alex Franklin, with a wide range of chapters written by fellows, mentors and partners within the RECOMS consortium.

Training events

The RECOMS consortium comes together twice a year for training events of 1-2 weeks. In these training events, we reflect on our roles as (action-)researchers, explore issues local communities are facing (e.g. energy transition, food insecurity) and practice new skills (e.g. video-making, story-telling). After five training events which were mainly organised by our mentors (including a lovely workshop from Shared Assets), it was up to us – the fellows – to set up this winter’s training event. With a bit of guidance from Shared Assets, Ruben, Sergio, Stephen and Zhanna, have been working on the organisation of a winter school with the name “Creating alternative urban imaginaries: from ideas to practices and back”, to take place in the first week of February 2021. The school will explore the close relationship between thought and action when pushing for transformative change in urban environments.

The event was supposed to take place in Barcelona, which provided a politically-rich city to illustrate the issues at stake, but due to the current situation, the school has been forced to move to an online format. However, the programme will still be loaded with contributors from the Catalan city who are actively engaged in its social and political life. Thinking of it as preparatory reading, but also as a useful contribution to communities aiming to join an ecosocial transition, the organisers of the school have been working on a short publication. This takes the form of a vocabulary which includes some relevant concepts that need to be discussed and practised when thinking of creating alternative imaginaries.

The final training event of the RECOMS project is going to take place in Brussels from the 7th till the 11th of June, 2021. This event will be organised as a confex (CONFerence + EXhibition) with the title ‘Spaces of Possibility: communities and places in times of social and environmental uncertainty’. It will be open to anyone who is interested in the themes of socio-environmental transformation, creative methods and community engagement. We will have workshops, interactive sessions, exciting keynotes, a food policy roundtable and guided tours of the exhibition.

Want to be part of this compelling programme? The call for contributions (presentation or full session proposals) is now open! The sub-themes are:

  • Systems and structures
  • Representation and justice
  • Material places and embodied practices
  • Sustainability research as co-creative practice

Please, have a look on our webpage for more info on the themes, deadlines and practicalities, and help us spread the word!

COVID-19 NOTE: Please note that the event is planned to be organised in-person adhering to strict safety and health regulations. However, if this will not be possible in light of further development of the pandemic, we will move the conference part of the programme online on the same dates.

Fancy some reading?

Check out some of our fellows’ recent publications (and stay updated by following the RECOMS Twitter account):

  • Stephen wrote an interesting op-ed about two competing visions for food systems sustainability. Another great piece by Stephen in which he reflects on the recent events in the US, his country of birth, using some sharp soil-related metaphors, can be found here.
  • Imogen published her first journal articleEdgelands of practice: post-industrial landscapes and the conditions of informal spatial appropriation’. We also highly recommend you to check out her gorgeous art and deep mapping work on her Instagram or website (sneak peek below)
  • Sara’s first paper deals with justice-oriented narratives in the urban food strategy documents of 16 European medium-sized cities. She’s having a meeting with Shared Assets in February, to brainstorm about the development and dissemination of her RE-ADJUSTool.
  • Our militant researcher Sergio has been actively involved in Cooperation Birmingham. He will soon publish a journal article about his work, titled: ‘Bridging materiality and subjectivity: expanding the commons in Cooperation Birmingham’. In the meantime, read his reflections on organising a solidarity kitchen in the midst of a pandemic.
  • Maria published an article in Sustainability about conditions for co-creation in infrastructure projects. She explores the conditions that allow co-creation practices aimed at fostering innovation and creativity in infrastructure projects to take place and flourish.
  • Stay tuned for Scott’s publication about a resilience project in the Scottish Highlands that utilises traditional land practices and local cultural history to educate people on land sustainability.
  • Sofia, our water fellow, wrote an engaging text on the challenges and opportunities for water justice, introducing her views as the new water justice topic editor at the Global Water Forum.
  • In her work on urban agroecology, Mai gets inspired again and again by the endless possibilities nature provides us. Read her reflections on the edible city tour she joined in Kassel, Germany.
  • In her interviews with alternative farmers in Japan, Natalie did not only work with a translator; she also collaborated with a local artist. Why? Read about it in her blog post.

Want to know what the life of a MSCA-ITN fellow is like in times of COVID? April, Mimi, Ruben, Viola, and Zhanna have been posting diary-like blogs on the RECOMS website describing their fieldwork and training experiences during lockdown.

The RECOMS project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 765389

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