The ‘Who Cares?’ project is a catalyst for participatory action research for the Green Infrastructure and the Health and Wellbeing Influences on an Ageing population (GHIA) project.

Working with volunteers who care for the urban nature and green and blue spaces across Greater Manchester, this website is a work-in-progress. You will find information about the GHIA project, you will also notice it change and evolve in response to the needs of those who use it.

How might this website become more useful to you and the volunteer work you undertake? Do you want to contribute, have ideas or suggestions? We would love to hear from you – do get in touch. Email: rebecca.taylor-4@manchester.ac.uk

Design activism and socially engaged participatory arts research practitioners Dr Rebecca Taylor and Dr Jenna Ashton are working together on GHIA’s Work Package 2. This work package aims to develop knowledge and methods that realise the potential for healthy ageing (physical, social and mental wellbeing). Who Cares? provides an opportunity to work collectively with volunteers as co-researchers, to explore the relationship between healthy ageing and caring for urban nature, green and blue space.

In collaboration with community groups and individuals, stories have been shared and the content of these stories have informed the design of the participatory action research. The stories serve as an important reminder of how caring for green and blue space is both hard work but also rewarding. Our aim is to encourage dialogue and conversation surrounding people’s experiences, with the hope that people will connect with the stories being shared and feel inspired and motivated to actively engage in urban nature and healthy ageing.

Invited to share in experiences of campaigning, saving and maintaining green and blue spaces, the stories of community groups and individuals are documented in the form of objects or artefacts such as, banners, tshirts, badges, articles, photographs, videos, audio recordings, poems, sketches and performance pieces. These objects, artefacts and performances are being collected, temporarily archived and exhibited for the first time in residency at Manchester Museum’s Heritage Futures Studio. This provides a unique opportunity for the Museum to engage with contemporary collections from living examples of social action. Who Cares? encourages community groups and individuals who care for and urban nature to inquire alongside the museum’s curatorial, learning and engagement and community engagement teams to ask; how might a museum act as a ‘host’ for ‘living’ artefacts of social action?

With the hope these stories will be curated and shared elsewhere, a growing collection of artefacts is being recorded online in a publicly visible, iterative design process. Currently called ‘the (co)design of a living archive – how might this website evolve into a useful digital resource for the communities and individuals who are participating in its design and development?

Themes unfolding from the research so far…

From the GHIA research so far, the participatory action research has been revealing the uncertainty and transformation of urban areas and how the threat of a reduction or loss of green and blue space might affect the health and wellbeing of an ageing population across Greater Manchester. Community organisations and co-researchers in the project are wondering how to represent and communicate the health and wellbeing benefits of caring for and about Green Infrastructure so they can motivate others and pass on its importance to future generations.

Our aim is to encourage ongoing dialogue and conversation with healthy ageing in urban areas and the health and wellbeing influences connected to caring for nature across Greater Manchester.

About the first Heritage Futures Studio Residency

The Heritage Futures Exhibition in Manchester Museum is framing the way we are living in the world and presents this under four themes: Uncertainty, Transformation, Profusion and Diversity. Each theme questions how we are consuming, producing, discarding and treasuring things that mean something to us.

In residency at The Heritage Futures Studio the GHIA project (specifically, Work Package 2) has responded to the invitation framed by the exhibition. In collaboration with community greening groups and co-researchers participating in the GHIA project, we have opened up the dialogue of how we curate stories and archive these stories as artefacts that might help us to confront the four themes and respective challenges. By asking, ‘who cares about green and blue space?’ we hope to provoke further dialogue surrounding how we might inspire and motivate others to care.

In its first iteration, the Heritage Futures Studio Residency in Manchester Museum welcomes a growing collection of stories and programme of events. Curated by The University of Manchester’s Institute of Cultural Practices postgraduate students together with researchers from the Green Infrastructure and Health and Wellbeing Influences of an Ageing Population (GHIA) project, have asked; who cares for the nature across Greater Manchester and why does it matter that we continue to do so?

Over time the residency will introduce stories from a range of community groups and individuals who actively care for the nature across Greater Manchester.

On the opening night Thurs 2nd May 2019, the postgraduate students from the Institute of Cultural Practices began with an insight into the historic importance of green space to Manchester. They then focused on the Friends of Nutsford Vale – a local community group and example of a campaign to save their Vale. Over recent years the Friends of Nutsford Vale have collected a range of artefacts that document how and why they care for its existence. Alongside their story the students also introduced the perspective of ‘battle rapping Granny’ and creative artist Joy France. ‘Ageing playfully’, Joy uses her creative practice to reflect upon the social value of Langworthy and Clarendon Parks in Salford.

With the kind, patient and ongoing support of Community Engagement Manager Anna Bunney, the learning and development team and Curator of Botany Rachel Webster and Curator of Arthropods Dmitri Logunov, the Who Cares? residency now enters its second iteration.

A programme of events and activities have been designed and developed with the curators of the museum as well as the co-researchers of GHIA – Joy France and Jon Stopp and community groups Friends of Nutsford Vale, Crumpsall & Cheetham Model Allotments and Close Neighbours.

Curious? Please do join the conversation.

With thanks to

A special thanks to all participating groups and interviewees involved in the Green Infrastructure and Health and Wellbeing Influences of an Ageing Population (GHIA) project, including:

In partnership with

The University of Manchester
University of Salford, Manchester
Manchester Metropolitan University
Manchester City Council
Manchester Climate Change Agency
Manchester City of Trees
Canal and River Trust

Manchester Museum

Funded by

Natural Environment Research Council
Economic and Social Research Council

Arts and Humanities Research Council
Valuing Nature Research Project

This project is funded by Natural Environment Research Council,
the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the Economic and
Social Research Council under the Valuing Nature Programme.

NERC grant reference number NE/N013530/1