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Once Upon the Future: Everyday Adventures that Change the World

Can an academic research project be turned into a children’s story? Yes, it can!
With great enthusiasm and dedication, a team of six  SUSPLACE fellows (Anastasia, Alessandro, Angela, Kelli, Lorena and Marta) has been engaged in an experimental co-creation effort to translate their research insights into a Children’s Book. After two years of work, the result is Once Upon the Future: Everyday Adventures that Change the World”, an anthology of six stories, each sprinkled with humor and magical realism, and oriented around the theme of hope and action towards a more sustainable future.


Publication | Caring in, for, and with Nature – An Integrative Framework to Understand Green Care Practices by Moriggi et al.


Keywords: Green Care; ethics of care; relational approach; integrative framework; participatory-action research; place-based sustainability; Finland

Moriggi, A.; Soini, K.; Bock, B.B.; Roep, D. Caring infor, and with Nature: An Integrative Framework to Understand Green Care Practices. Sustainability 202012, 3361. doi.org/10.3390/su12083361

Website | Transforming Places Together


The blog Transforming Places Together has been initiated by Prof. Lummina Horlings and Dr Gwenda van der Vaart, both affiliated at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands. The new blog is meant to offer a platform on transformative change and is open to contributions by others. The blog is a follow up and sponsored by the MSCA ITN funded programs SUSPLACE and RECOMS.

Special  Feature | Exploring the Transformative Capacity of Place-Shaping Practices

The SUSPLACE Special Feature ‘Exploring the transformative capacity of place-shaping practices‘ is published open access in Sustainability Sciences. It comprises nine articles: eight original research articles and an introduction article by Lummina Horlings, Dirk Roep, Erik Mathijs and Terry Marsden.

Horlings, L.G., Roep, D., Mathijs, E., Marsden, T. (2020) Exploring the transformative capacity of place-shaping practices, Sustainability Sciences, 15 (2):353–362 https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00787-w

Video | Nature as pathway – A participatory action research project


How can research support social enterprises to enhance their capabilities and potentials? In this short video, we follow SUSPLACE fellow Angela Moriggi to two of her case studies -Tikanmäki care farm and Majvik biodynamic farm – pioneering examples in Finland of Green Care practices, nature-based activities with a social innovation purpose. Angela explains how she designed and applied participatory methods.

Publication | The political imaginaries of blockchain projects by Omer Husain et al.


Keywords: Blockchain · Political imaginaries · Prefigurative politics · Decentralization · Technopolitics

Husain, S.O., Franklin, A. & Roep, D. The political imaginaries of blockchain projects: discerning the expressions of an emerging ecosystem. Sustain Sci 15, 379–394 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-020-00786-x


Publication | Phosphorus and energy flows through the food system of Brussels Capital Region by Papangelou et al.


Keywords: Circular economy, Urban food system, Nutrients, Material flow analysis (MFA)

Papangelou, A. Achten W.J., Mathijs, E. (2020). Phosphorus and energy flows through the food system of Brussels Capital Region. Resources, Conservation and Recycling, Volume 156, 104687, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.resconrec.2020.104687.

Publication | Exploring the narratives from eco‑villagers through a place‑based transformative learning approach by Pisters et al.


Keywords: Transformative learning, Ecovillages, Place, Narrative inquiry

Pisters, S.R., Vihinen, H. & Figueiredo, E. Inner change and sustainability initiatives: exploring the narratives from eco-villagers through a place-based transformative learning approach. Sustain Sci 15, 395–409 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00775-9

Publication | Linking spatial planning and place branding strategies through cultural narratives in places by Grenni et al.


FigureKeywords: Participatory planningplace brandingnarrativeappreciative inquiryart-based methodsplace-based development

Sara Grenni, L. G. Horlings & K. Soini (2019) Linking spatial planning and place branding strategies through cultural narratives in places, European Planning Studies, DOI: 10.1080/09654313.2019.1701292

Publication | Prefigurative Post-Politics as Strategy: The Case of Government-Led Blockchain Projects by Husain et al.


Keywords: blockchain, post-political, decentralization, e-government, technopolitics, prefigurative politics, digital ethnography, civic tech

Prefigurative Post-Politics as Strategy: The Case of Government-Led Blockchain Projects‘ by Syed Omer Husain, Dirk Roep and Alex Franklin was published in the Journal of the British Blockchain Association (JBBA).

Publication| The role of local energy initiatives in co-producing sustainable places by Soares da Silva et al.


Key words: Local energy initiatives, Citizen initiatives, Co-production, Governance, Energy transition, Sustainable place shaping

Soares da Silva, D., Horlings, L.G. The role of local energy initiatives in co-producing sustainable places. Sustain Sci (2019) doi:10.1007/s11625-019-00762-0

Publication | Operationalising transformative sustainability science through place‑based research: the role of researchers by Horlings et al.


Keywords: Transformation, Sustainability, Place-based research, Place-shaping, Roles of researchers, Engagement

Horlings, L.G., Nieto-Romero, M., Pisters, S. et al. Operationalising transformative sustainability science through place-based research: the role of researchers. Sustain Sci 15, 467–484 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00757-x

Publication | Co‑created visual narratives and inclusive place branding by Catia Rebelo et al.


Keywords: Inclusive place branding, Sustainable place-shaping,  Collaborative visual methods, Participatory action research, Citizen engagement, Transformative agency
Rebelo, C., Mehmood, A. & Marsden, T. Co-created visual narratives and inclusive place branding: a socially responsible approach to residents’ participation and engagement. Sustain Sci 15, 423–435 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00760-2

Publication| Transformative roles of people and places: learning, experiencing, and regenerative action through social innovation by Abid Mehmood et al.


Keywords: Social innovation, Regenerative development, Transformative learning, Visual narratives, Sustainable place-shaping

Mehmood, A., Marsden, T., Taherzadeh, A. et al. Transformative roles of people and places: learning, experiencing, and regenerative action through social innovation. Sustain Sci 15, 455–466 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00740-6

Publication | Place-Based Policies for Sustainability and Rural Development: The Case of a Portuguese Village “Spun” in Traditional Linen by Alessandro Vasta et al.


Keywords: rural development,place-based policies, sustainability

Vasta, A.; Figueiredo, E.; Valente, S.; Vihinen, H.; Nieto-Romero, M. Place-Based Policies for Sustainability and Rural Development: The Case of a Portuguese Village “Spun” in Traditional Linen. Soc. Sci.20198, 289. https://doi.org/10.3390/socsci8100289

Publication | The inner dimension of sustainability transformation: how sense of place and values can support sustainable place-shaping, by Sara Grenni et al.


Keywords: Place-shaping, Sense of place, Sustainability, Sustainability transformation, Place values

Grenni, S., Soini, K. & Horlings, L.G. The inner dimension of sustainability transformation: how sense of place and values can support sustainable place-shaping. Sustain Sci 15, 411–422 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00743-3

Publication | Historical commons as sites of transformation. A critical research agenda to study human and more-than-human communities by Marta Nieto Romero et al.

Key words: Commoning, Institutions, Community, More-than-human, Transformation, Sustainability

Marta Nieto-Romero, Sandra Valente, Elisabete Figueiredo, Constanza Parra (2019) Historical commons as sites of transformation. A critical research agenda to study human and more-than-human communities, Geoforumhttps://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2019.10.004

Publication | Exploring enabling resources for place-based social entrepreneurship: a participatory study of Green Care practices in Finland by Angela Moriggi


Keywords: Place, Enabling resources, Green Care practices, Finland, Social entrepreneurship

Moriggi, A. (2019) Exploring enabling resources for place-based social entrepreneurship: a participatory study of Green Care practices in Finland. Sustain Sci. https://doi.org/10.1007/s11625-019-00738-0

Publication | ‘The Legend of the Cosmos Mariners’ by Kelli Rose Pearson

We are proud to annouce the publication the beautiful story ‘The Legend of the Cosmos Mariners’ by SUSPLACE fellow Kelli Rose Pearson!

The story has been published in the book ‘Our Entangled Future: Stories to Empower Quantum Social Change’, co-edited by Karen O’Brien, Ann El Khoury, Nicole Schafenacker and Jordan Rosenfeld. Nine short stories, rooted in the complex reality of the climate crisis, are presented in this inspiring book.

You can freely download the book here.

Synthesis Report | What, Why and How of Sustainable place-shaping


The Synthesis report, edited by prof. Ina Horlings, provides a summary of the SUSPLACE findings for a wide audience, structured by the What, Why and How of sustainable place-shaping. Furthermore it entails a description of our joint SUSPLACE learning journey and highlights of inspiring outputs, such as several video’s, a Toolkit on creative and arts-based methods and an interactive Policy guide on co-creation for practitioners.

The full report can be downloaded here:  D7.6 SUSPLACE Synthesis Report

Documentary | Sitting on Marão Mountains

This video-documentary by Marta Nieto Romero is the result of the project Marão Minha Serra, an action-research project aiming at promoting  more sustainable human-nature relations (see facebook page). The project aimed at re-connecting people to each other and to their forested common land to re-build communities (human and more-than-human). For that, the project recorded residents telling stories about their common land and asked them to choose a meaningful place for their life telling the story behind it. Thus, this video is an affective map of the baldio of Ansiães, a map that tells the past and current resident’s affects towards their common land.

Video | Rebuilding the Commons

What are commonlands? And how can commoning help to revitalise rural communities? In this video, we follow SUSPLACE researcher Marta Nieto Romero to one of her case studies – a small community in Galicia, Spain that’s seeking new ways to take care of their communal forest lands and, through that, rebuild community life.
This video is the fourth in a series of short videos that illustrate inspiring examples of place-shaping practices in Europe.

Video | Place Ambassadors in Sustainable Tourism

How can we involve people in more inclusive and participatory place branding initiatives? This is the key question that guided SUSPLACE researcher Cátia Rebelo in her research on sustainable tourism. Learn more about her work in this short video.

This video is the third in a series of short videos that illustrate inspiring examples of place-shaping practices in Europe.

Publication | Creating Sustainable Places Together. A quick start guide for policy-makers and practitioners to place-based working and co-production

This guide sets out why place-based participation can help to deliver more sustainable futures and how policy-makers and practitioners across a range of different policy areas can support this through well-designed participative work with communities.

Taking the practical examples from the work of SUSPLACE and the knowledge of its partners, this interactive PDF allows you to read the guide as a normal paper or to navigate ‘web-style’ through the ideas and examples.

Publication | Place-based transformative learning: a framework to explore consciousness in sustainability initiatives

Siri Pisters is an external PhD-candidate at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University. From April 1, 2016, until March 31, 2019, she was appointed as Early Stage Researcher at the National Resource Institute of Finland (LUKE) at the research project Eco-villages and sustainable living of the MSCA ITN programme SUSPLACE.

Abstract Based on a critical literature review, the article argues that transformative learning (TL) that fosters a shift in consciousness towards a more ecological approach is an inherently place-based phenomenon. In this article, we build a place-based approach to TL based on a literature review. Our theoretical framework is grounded in three key themes which emerge from the literature: (re-) connection, (self-)compassion and creativity.

Documentary | Place Ambassadors – shaping better places to live and visit

This documentary is the result of an academic intervention that aimed to explore the advantages and disadvantages of introducing and or strengthening civic participation in tourism and branding planning, and part of Place Ambassadors project. This intervention seeks to engage and give voice to 10 members of the group Discover LLangorse & Bwlch, who is a bottom-up association that intends to develop and promote tourism in the Brecon Beacons National Park, Wales.

This is a twin-documentary of Sensed Place, which can be watched here.

Video | Sustainability Transformations through Permaculture

How understand and advance sustainability transformations? This is the key question that guided SUSPLACE researcher Elgars Felcis in his exploration and co-creation of the permaculture movement in Latvia. Learn more about his journey in this short video.
This video is the second in a series of short videos that illustrate inspiring examples of place-shaping practices in Europe.

Publication | Decentralising geographies of political action: civic tech and place-based municipalism

Omer Husain is a research fellow at the Rural Sociology Group of Wageningen University. He was appointed at the MSCAction INT SUSPLACE research project Place-based policies and pathways from April 1, 2016, till March 31, 2019.

Abstract This article introduces the concept of ‘place-based civic tech’ — citizen engagement technology codesigned by local government, civil society and global volunteers. It investigates to what extent creating such a digital space for autonomous self-organization allows for the emergence of a parallel, self-determining and more place-based geography of politics and political action.

Publication | Regenerative city-regions: a new conceptual framework

Lorena Axinte is a research fellow at the Sustainable Places Research Institute of Cardiff University appointed at the SUSPLACE research project Sustainable City Regions from April 1, 2016, till March 31, 2019.

Abstract The city-regional scale is increasingly being considered the most suitable level for planning and development, yet city-regions have often been established for purely economic reasons in the UK. This paper argues that city-regions are not mere socioeconomic units through which competitiveness can be achieved, but also rich, socioecological spaces.

Publication | Experiential approaches to sustainability education-towards learning landscapes

In this publication Malin Backman et al. critically reflect the current specialist discourse on experiential approaches to higher education for sustainable development (HESD). Limitations to the current discourse are identified, and as a result, an alternative, learning landscape approach to the study of experiential education (EE) within HESD is suggested. Malin Backman was appointed as a fellow at the SUSPLACE research project Connected Learning Spaces from April 2016 till June 2018.

Slideshow | RE.TREAT Cornwall: How to live when sea-levels rise?

In July 2018, seven families took part in an experimental 4-day ‘retreat’ in Cornwall, UK. The aim of this creative residency was to imagine and design how to live when sea levels rise. SUSPLACE fellow Kelli Rose Pearson and SUSPLACE project coordinator Anke de Vrieze attended RE.TREAT Cornwall as participant observers. The story starts with a full lunar eclipse, a neolithic cairn, and an unexpected storm. It ends with the Boatbarrow – an amphibious mobile art gallery. This slideshow follows their learning journey and has been compiled for your perusal and enjoyment

Initiated by Dr. Natalia Eernstman (Plymouth College of Art, UK), the residency was part of an international research project on arts, sustainability, and experiential learning funded by The Seedbox.

Video | Engaging Youth in City-Region Development

What happens if you involve young people in decision-making about the areas where they live? This is the key question that guided SUSPLACE fellow Lorena Axinte during her research in the Cardiff Capital Region.

Follow her footsteps and find out more in this short movie!

Policy Event | Revitalising Agenskalns Market

In September 2018, Kalnciema Quarter invited the SUSPLACE consortium to think along and develop a set of practical ideas and policy proposal for the re-development of Agenskalns market, Riga.

Watch this  video for an impression and summary of the event.

To learn more about the outcomes, please go to the full report:
Full Report_Revitalisation of Urban Spaces_Riga_Sept 2018

Publication | Citizen Initiatives in the Post-Welfare State

In the recently published article Citizen Initiatives in the Post-Welfare State , SUSPLACE researcher Diogo Soares da Silva  reflects on the role of citizen initiatives in shaping sustainable places. The article is based on the outcomes of the research project The Energetic Society and was co-authored by prof. Lummina Horlings and prof. Elisabete  Figueiredo. The article belongs to the Special Issue Civic Enterprises, the Co-Production of Public Governance and the Prospects for Democratic Renewal in Europe of Social Sciences.

View full article

Publication | Arts-based Methods for Transformative Engagement: a toolkit

This open access toolkit offers a collection of almost 30 methods, practical examples, workshop outlines and tips for creative facilitation, as well as resources and relevant academic references. The ideas and methods collected in this toolkit are intended to support new ways of thinking and doing in our work as change agents towards regenerative societies. Compiled by a research team collaborating through the SUSPLACE Innovative Training Network, it is the result of our collective research and experimentation with creative and arts-based methods of engagement.

Download PDF and see full abstract

Documentary | Sensed Place

This documentary is the final product of a co-production between Catia Rebelo, the Binaural Association and the video participants. A collaborative visual multi-method was carried out with 11 participants who, during the shootings, lived in Carvalhal de Vermilhas, Portugal. The method comprised the following stages: 1) a group of individual stories/narratives about the place and their identity was collected and video-taped; 2) the selected participants watched individually their own short videos to attest its accuracy and share their feelings and impressions about it (film-elucidation); 3) a focus group activity with all participants dived into two groups, who watched the composite film (all the stories were put together by the researcher and the Binaural association). Afterwards, the participants reflected and discussed questions about place attachment and place-shaping agency.

Video | Sustainable place-shaping in theory and practice

Co-created by SUSPLACE researchers, this video introduces Sustainable Place-shaping in theory and practice.

Video | SUSPLACE: A Research and Training Network

This short video introduces SUSPLACE, a MSCA Innovative Training Network funded by the EU, that trains 15 Early Stage Researchers in innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to study and further enhance sustainable place-shaping practices.

Publication | Culture in Sustainability: Towards a Transdisciplinary Approach

The volume ‘Culture in Sustainability: Towards a Transdisciplinary Approach’, edited by Asikainen et al. (2017), addresses the role of culture in transformations to sustainability. Contributors include SUSPLACE senior scientists dr. Katriina Soini and prof. Lummina Horlings.

key words: sustainability, culture, social learning process, cultural sustainability, public participation, heritage management, historic urban landscape, aesthetics, artist researchers, artful empiricism