Commoning Design: a Pluriversal Slide-Deck V2

This deck was compiled to support conversations between people curious about the relation between commoning and design(s). The deck provides a shared vocabulary to talk about different ways of the relationships between commoning and design.

We say pluriversal because we do not think this deck represents the best practices out there, or a universal vision on the relationships between commoning and designing. Instead, this deck makes a humble attempt at recognizing the plural ways in which commoning and designing are locally redefined on a daily basis.

P. D. (2020, October 22). Commoning Design: A Pluriversal Slide-Deck V2.

Open Forest exploration – visiting Hyytiälä

Andrea Botero & Markéta Dolejšová  

On September 22nd-24th, we made a short exploratory field trip to the Hyytälä forest and its SMEAR station to collect first data and impressions for Open Forest. Besides walking through the old forest and the managed forest around the SMEAR station, we had the opportunity to chat with some of the scientists working with forest data at the station. We also learned a bit more about what is being collected as our visit was timed to coincide with a micrometeorology course that happened at the station. Our aim was humble – to get a sense of the place, collect stories from local scientists and others working at the station; and get inspiration for the first stage of our project. This “recognizing the terrain” was crucial specially for Markéta, who has never been to the station before.

Aside from these observation activities, we also collected various audio-visual materials and tried out an experimental storytelling walk-through in the SMEAR forest, while engaging remotely our fellow researchers located in Melbourne (AU) and Helsinki (FI). Andrea walked around the forest holding her laptop, running a Zoom meeting with the remote researchers and narrating introductory information and personal stories about the forest. Marketa, connected to the meeting via her mobile phone and using it as an extra camera, was capturing snapshots of the local forest environment to provide visual details of trees and sensors.

Marketa preparing for the walk

Hyytiälä forestry station is a fascinating place, and the open data that comes out of the local research activities, especially those situated in the SMEAR area with its monitoring mast and an array of sensors are perfect occasions to think-with, uncover and speculate on the types of data and stories that scientists, forests and others might exchange with each other. Drawing on our observations from the forest and in our collaboration with the Climate Whirl program (Thanks Ulla!), we will set up an interactive installation/ conversation piece to be showcased at the Research Pavillion #4 Helsinki in Hietsu Paviljonki during summer 2021

The work in Open Forest and Hyytiälä is tied to two existing ongoing research projects (1) the Academy of Finland (AoF) project “Studio|Lab|Forest – From the Lab, the Studio to the Forest, the Garden and Back” (2019-2024) where Andrea Botero is a principal investigator and (2) the EU Horizon 2020 project CreaTures – Creative Practices for Transformational Futures (2020-2022) where Markéta Dolejšová is a post-doctoral researcher.

Gardens, chagras, milpas (but not only)

“A garden is a planned space, usually outdoors, set aside for the display, cultivation, or enjoyment of plants and other forms of nature, as an ideal setting for social or solitary human life. The single feature identifying even the wildest wild garden is control.”

Illustration from a Mexican Herbolarioum: De La Cruz, M (1552) Libellus de Medicinalibus Indorum Herbis. Traducido al latin por Juan Badianus. Image in the Public Domain

Afanador Llach MJ. (2011) “Nombrar y representar. Escritura y naturaleza en el Códice De la Cruz-Badiano, 1552.” en Fronteras de la Historia, vol. 16-1, Instituto Colombiano de Antropología e Historia, Bogotá

Engraving from 1770 of Uppsala’s Linnaean garden

Hortus Botanicus is one of the oldest botanical gardens in the world (Mexico probably was first). It was established in 1638 by the city municipality as Hortus Medicus, that is an herb garden with medical plants to eb used by the doctors and pharmacists of. Amsterdam during the plague…

Experimental governance? The emergence of public sector innovation labs in Latin America

Authors: Maria Ferreira and Andrea Botero


Public sector innovation labs are becoming an increasingly visible instrument in public sector innovation and experimentation. Proponents of these labs claim they can play an important role in addressing pressing social challenges, changing government structures and thereby shaping ideas and practices of future governance. Whilst some research has been carried out on public innovation labs, the focus of inquiry has been primarily on the emergence, models and activities of labs in Europe and North America. This paper attempts to contribute to this growing body of research by bringing forth some of the particularities of this phenomenon as it emerges in Latin America. Using as starting point three experimental interests identified in the available literature, namely increasing flexibilization of public procedures, developing methods for citizen engagement and experimental development of public policies, the paper presents insights and observations from a study of ten public sector innovation labs in Latin America. In particular, our focus is on how these interests are confronted with different realities and therefore what kind of challenges the labs face. Experimentation in Latin America seems to concern not only flexibilization, engagement and public policies; it also includes juggling with the tensions arising from budgetary constraints, the need to weave networks of regional labs to collaborate and finally the need to align their agendas to those of other institutions, while being accountable to different levels of society. This places Latin American labs in a different light than their European and North American counterparts.

Full text: PDF HTML

Getting Participatory Design Done: From Methods and Choices to Translation Work across Constituent Domains

Authors: Andrea Botero, Sampsa Hyysalo, Cindy Kohtala, Jack Whalen


Collaborative arrangements between users and designers today are enacted in a broadening array of circumstances. These include extended, even years-long projects within corporations, the public and third sectors, as well as open-ended, peer-to-peer open design initiatives. Building on a literature review and analysis of four concrete participatory design projects, in this paper we argue that besides skills in selecting and implementing co-design methods, there is a larger repertoire of issues that need attention, if one takes the promises and limits of participatory design seriously. We elaborate on how these issues have purchase in the interplay of four interrelated domains: the strategic considerations that drive all those implicated, the mundane acts involved in co-design work, the choice of methods that is conditioned by strategic and mundane issues, and the producing of design outcomes permeated in turn by all the above. These domains co-constitute each other in such a way that one domain cannot easily be considered apart from the others. Participatory design understood from this perspective is not about facilitation skills, but rather skills to translate among strategic, mundane, method and design domains, and being aware of how they qualify and permeate each other in order to achieve results.

Full Text: PDF HTML

Other Covid(s)

With Pedro, Victoria, Mariana and Virginia we are looking at a variety of mechanisms established by what we are colling Virtual Distributed Collaboration Initiatives or “other CoViDs” (for its acronym in Spanish); as they have sprout in the context of crisis and / or emergency.

Since March 2020 we have followed various remotely coordinated work teams whose members were in isolation as a result of the pandemia restrictions and that came together in the context of various global initiatives formed in response to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. The ones we have followed have been happening in Spanish mostly.

Con Pedro, VIctoria, Mariana y Virginia estamos siguiendo la pista a una variedad de mecanismos establecidos por iniciativas de Colaboración Virtual Distribuida,  en contexto de crisis y/o emergencia. A ellas las hemso denominado “otras CoViDs”

El estudio se realiza en el contexto de diversas iniciativas globales en CoViD formadas como respuesta a la pandemia del Coronavirus (COVID-19). Desde Marzo del 2020 hemos seguido equipos de trabajo coordinados de forma remota y cuyos miembros se encuentran en situación de aislamiento como resultado de la pandemia.

“In the beginning there were the marsh…” (Alussa oli suo”…)

Siikaneva is the largest unified marshland in Pirkanmaa and one of the most important mire conservations area in the province, which makes it also a nice place for birds. It hosts one of the SMEAR stations data collection points with a nice collection of sensors and a beautiful wooden plank path to explore it a bit.

In addition to the state-administered mire protection area, Siikaneva has a private nature reserve. More info form metsähalitus pages here

Heading to the forest (I)

Yeah! This is the first official “field trip” I am doing for this project! It feels weird to know that there are 5 years ahead to think on studios, laboratories, workshops, gardens, forests, kitchens, malocas and other spaces for world creation with some peace of mind and resources. What a better place to start than the forest? It is a fantastic place to feed the inquiry since 1) I am now in Finland and forests are quite important part of the shaped landscape of this part of the world 2) Forests are simply astonishing sites, bursting with life and death not to mention they have fascinating ecologies 3) Ever since I first came to Hyytiälä -while working on a research project on research infrastructures for the environmental sciences- I wanted to come back and look at it again with more calm and different eyes.

I am visiting the station at the same time that the course “Analysis of atmosphere-surface interactions and
feedbacks” is held. We agree that I can join some of the lectures and visits. I take it as a nice opportunity to learn more about the research that happens here , the type of data gathered and what questions are asked from the data and thus from the forest.

The forest around the SMEAR II station with some of the measuring instruments and sensors, a field lab for sure (Autumn 2019)