From the mountains of Lesotho to a former landfill in Manchester, the development of the RoundView has involved work with scientists, artists, action learning experts, hundreds of students and hundreds of workshop participants applying principles in their workspace.
The history of the RoundView goes back to the mountains of Lesotho and the mining area of Rustenburg, South Africa, where Joanne was teaching ecological design in the mid 90s. She worked with a local artist to develop lively graphics for teaching core ecological design principles. She also developed hands-on ways to engage with the people she was teaching: rural development workers, farmers and teachers. These helped people to not only learn the core ideas, but also to foster communication and understanding amongst people with different levels of literacy and speaking different languages.
Upon returning to the UK, Joanne continued to develop her ideas about ecological design, and decided she needed a clear framework to see if any action was in fact more sustainable than the alternatives. Just at this time, she was fortunate enough to be able to attend a three week course about The Natural Step at Schumacher College with Karl-Henrik Robert, Jonathan Porritt and Paul Hawken.
The Natural Step did indeed provide a compass for seeing if decisions would be moving towards sustainability. What Joanne was concerned about, however, was how to teach it when she was not the charismatic founder; and in particular, how to make sure all the key scientific ideas were covered in an accessible way. She started working on a set of graphics to convey the key concepts, and developed the idea of a hands-on animation, using moveable pieces.
Over the next ten years, she used these graphics to teach sustainability to people from all walks of life, from her students at Dominican College (in California) and at the University of Manchester, to the public, to companies, to high school students, to community members in North Manchester during her action research PhD. This research developed a regeneration plan for a former landfill site (Moston Vale), designed with the help of the sustainability principles of The Natural Step.
In 2008, she applied to the Sustainable Consumption Institute (SCI) for funding to do some research into sustainability skills in Tesco. This led to three action research projects working with over 200 staff members at Tesco. The RoundView, as a set of positive guidelines for what we want to move towards, along with a learning framework for teaching them, emerged from this research.
Fraser joined the project on the expert advisory group of the SCI projects in 2009 and began taking on more and more of a role in the development of the framework itself. He had a background in Permaculture, teaching thinking skills for sustainability, and a particular interest in the ‘Cradle to Cradle’ approach. Joanne and Fraser, with lots of support from the research team on the SCI project, began the process of making the concepts more accessible and deriving a set of positive guidelines that would serve as distinct and clear opposites to what we need to stop doing. This was achieved by re-framing the system conditions of the Natural Step into simple, systems-level concepts, and by incorporating key ideas from ‘Cradle to Cradle’ and industrial ecology.
This helped clarify the concepts and key ideas as well as providing updated and interesting graphics for hands-on teaching.
This work came to the attention of the Head of Innovation of the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, and we have been working with the Foundation to refine the Guidelines and develop the latest set of teaching graphics. As of late 2012, we are exploring ways to progress the RoundView with the Ellen MacArthur Foundation and in teaching at the University of Manchester.
From the beginning, the RoundView was seen as an open framework, and it has incorporated the feedback and ideas of a wide range of people. We are looking forward to working with many more people and partners in taking this work further.