CO-CREATING THE DESIRED FUTURE FOR SOUTHERN TRANSYLVANIA
Within the Leverage Points for Sustainability Transformation project, we were co-creating a transdisciplinary case study in one of the two selected regions of the project, namely Transylvania, Romania. The case study started in January 2016 and ended in March 2019. It was located in Hârtibaciului-Târnava Mare-Olt plateau area, spreading on 270,000 ha among the cities of Brașov, Sibiu and Sighișoara.
PAST: BUILDING A COHERENT UNDERSTANDING OF SOUTHERN TRANSYLVANIA AS A SYSTEM
Our work in Transylvania built upon previous research carried out within the project ‘Sustainable Landscapes in Southern Transylvania ’. The “system understanding” of this area was generated during five years (2011-2016) of interdisciplinary, place-based social-ecological research addressing the challenge of sustainability in the cultural landscape of Southern Transylvania. An overview of our transdisciplinary work in Transylvania managing the interface between non-governmental organisations (NGOs) leading the local pathway to transformation, and our grounded system knowledge of the area can be found here . During our long-term engagement with the practitioners of change in the area, we also co-generated in a scenario building exercise a shared vision called Balance Brings Beauty for the future of Southern Transylvania up to 2043. In short, this vision outlined a future that balances a good quality of life with ecological sustainability. It provided a useful object to shaping the case with NGOs.
PRESENT: ACKNOWLEDGING AND RESPECTING LOCAL EFFORTS FOR SUSTAINABILITY
The goal of the Transylvania transdisciplinary case study was to support and enable sustainability-transformation processes in Southern Transylvania, according to this normative knowledge that we previously had co-generated and validated. Sustainability grassroots initiatives are numerous and locally relevant. These are any initiatives or activities in Southern Transylvania dealing with either one or more of the following: nature conservation, cultural heritage conservation, supporting small-scale, traditional or organic farming, agritourism and ecotourism, rural community development. We proposed amplifying and scaling mechanisms that were designed to lever local contributions to sustainability in the direction of the shared vision for Transylvania’s future, within the contingencies and conditions of the case-study.
We were co-creating together with approximately 30 to 40 NGOs to which we are very grateful. Our core local partners are the Mihai Eminescu Trust (MET) and the Transylvanian Highlands . Jointly, we were delivering a range of workshops and research exercises such as (in red in the below timeline):
- September 2016: Towards co-creating the desired future for Southern Transylvania: bridging the old and the new;
- June 2017: The journey to Balance Brings Beauty – making it visible; building coherence between different paradigms underlying transition pathways;
- June 2017: Consolidating the associative model of the of the Agro-Eco-Viscri farming association by developing a shared understanding of ‘the common good’
- … and many others.
The case was structured in sub-cases. Each of the sustainability initiatives and parent NGO(s) was believed to constitute a sub-case. For example, we were closely working together with the Agro-Eco Viscri farming association in partnership with MET.
FUTURE: STRENGTHENING RELATIONSHIPS FOR THE SUSTAINABLE FUTURE OF SOUTHERN TRANSYLVANIA
Until the end of the project in March 2019, the co-created way forward for the transdisciplinary case was focusing on three fronts:
- A social network analysis study of the network of sustainability organisations in Southern Transylvania focusing on values and visions for how to reach the desired future;
- A new outreach book ‘Strategies for reaching a sustainable future in Southern Transylvania’ where we were collecting success examples for the above. The content of this book aimed to be a follow-up to the content presented in the previous two books stemming from the previous Transylvania project;
- Enabling and paving the way for dialogue of the network with policymakers, Government representatives, officials and politicians. We were planning to invite policymakers and public persons for the launch of the booklet and the closing of this case study in March 2019.