Birds of a Feather – community connectedness for bushfire resilience

 Commencement date: 2010
Project status: Ongoing
Partners: RMIT University, Souther Otways Landcare Network, Otways Community Health Services, CFA Community Fireguard facilitator

Communication problem in bushfire preparation, complicated by fragmented networks among a ‘community of place’.

Design process
A variety of methods were used to understand the ‘community of place’. These included Social Network Analysis visualisation, interviews, observations and field/household visits. Workshops used design scaffolds like Playful Triggers to facilitate co-creation and communication of local knowledge of the geographical environment, leading to strengthening connections between residents. ‘What if’ scenarios were also used to prompt thinking and planning for unexpected events (eg. car breaks down). Trial postcards were also distributed as a way to facilitate conversations between neighbours on fire preparedness.

Community members in the Southern Otways, Victoria, Southern Otways Landcare Network and Otway Community Health Services and Community Fire Guard Facilitator

Research team
Yoko AkamaTania Ivanka, with assistance from Michelle Gilmore.

Special thanks
Aurel Dessewffy, Simon Pockley, Susan Pockley, Anna O’Brien, Katherine Cust, John Fien, Gerald Elsworth, Kaye Stevens, Denise Hooke, Alan Huggins and Tony Coyle.

Funded by
the School of Media and Communication, Design Research Institute at RMIT University and the Bushfire CRC.

Read more about this project in the attached pdf. This paper was presented at the Participatory Design Conference in October 2010.


Please cite references for this paper using Akama , Y & Ivanka, T, 2010, ‘What community? Facilitating awareness of ‘community’ through Playful Triggers’, Participatory Design Conference, Sydney, Australia, Nov 29 – Dec 3, 2010. Proceeding published in ACM.

Exhibition at Fed Square during the State of Design Festival, 2010.

Akama , Y & Ivanka, T, 2010, Bushfires: Empowering Communities through Design, Design for Everyone, State of Design Festival, Work shown on the Main Screen at Federation Square, Melbourne, July 12 – 26, 2010.


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