On February 9th and 10th 2023, the project partners which form the consortium of the I-CHANGE project came together for their annual meeting in Barcelona, Spain. Project meetings of this kind have the ambition to cover the processes in all the Work Packages in a very condensed time. For most in the consortium it is also a rare opportunity to meet with the other teams in person and to not only find synergies in the work but also to get to know each other on a personal level. For our team from the Climate Media Factory, a communications agency in Potsdam, Germany, it was a great opportunity to gather input to be translated into comprehensive and communicable formats.

From a communications perspective, I-CHANGE is also a rather technical project concerned with climate relevant data collection in cities, to put it very short. Social scientists but also physicists, meterologists and climate scientists etc. engage with citizens on a local level to collect data on different aspects that concern climate mitigation. For the non-natural-scientists of us, even though our work focuses on climate change issues, grasping the graphs in data-heavy presentations and scientific research methodologies is not exactly the easiest task! As people concerned with communications, some of us are more the generalist types, as opposed to specialists of one area of interest. This is the fun, but also the challenge. In face of the challenge to communicate I-CHANGE to a broader audience we are driven by the question: How can we crystalise the most important information of a project that is so complex when you don’t have an educational background in the sciences?

In order to respond to this challenge, we thought about a format which could make the project more visible and accessible to a general public, and which we would be able to produce on the side of the tight schedule of our meeting. We identified the representatives of 4 out of 8 Living Labs (LLs) and pre-formulated questions which we wanted to ask them. The Living Labs we chose to feature were Amsterdam, Bologna, Dublin and Genova. We decided to start with these LLs, because most of them were established before the I-CHANGE project took off in 2021. Considering the early stage of the project, we were hoping that these Living Labs would be able to share more substantial experiences with citizen science.

During the two workshop days, we used every possible break to conduct the interviews. Our technical setup was quite simple: A smart phone, a tripod, and lavalier mics. We asked the LL-representatives to tell us about the regions they are based in and the climatic challenges that their LLs are trying to respond to. What does a Living Lab do and how does it work? We also invited them to reflect on the role of citizen science and place the project in the larger context of climate action.

For us, the interviews were a fantastic way to learn more generally about the Living Labs and their activities in the different cities, beyond the numbers and the scientific data. And we were positively surprised that the conversations we prompted were an opportunity for our partners to zoom out from the details of science that we had seen during the presentations and to find a new language to describe and reflect on the important work that they are doing on the ground.

We are currently still in the process of editing the videos, but look forward to share them soon to bring the information about this ambitious project where it belongs to: To the citizens!

By Caroline Bertram from the Climate Media Factory (CMF)

Photo credits: Climate Media Factory, 2023