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Evolutionary Systems Design: Creating a community ecosystem

We found each other as a team over the same shared interest and question of how we as citizens and youth can have an impact in today’s political arena concerning sustainability issues. Particularly, as it often feels like all the initiatives and young movements are not heard or respected by political leaders. Consequently, we wanted to focus on how we could help and connect grassroot movements with political agendas in order to get listened, heard, and a say in shaping our future.

We thereby soon had to realise that the term “sustainability” is a bit too broad to focus on, which meant that we needed to become more concrete in our intentions and demands. The EU Green Deal (EGD) turned into our compass. After diving deeper into the topic, reading, and exploring the declaration, we eventually lay our focus and attention on the transition and establishment of circular economies.

We started our journey of value creation by collecting different stories and perspectives, both from grassroot organisations and policymakers. Surprisingly, we found out that there are more initiatives that focus on circular models than we had first anticipated, which facilitated and added to our exploration phase.

Naturally, our second focus was the connection of the open ends, bringing together stakeholders from both sides. To learn more, we decided to attend a conference in Dublin about how the youth can participate more in a “Young Green Europe”. Additionally, we also visited the Rediscovery Centre which is a remodelled old factory building that has been turned into a circular community place. The centre lives and breathes “reduce, reuse, recycle”, setting no limits to sustainable business models.

Impressed and inspired, we returned highly motivated to apply our learnings and ideas into practice. With the aspiration of creating a community that is alive and ever-changing to its needs, we envisioned a network of people living with and in active eco-systems.

At first, we were thinking of a physical place, but after some conversation it turned out that having an online space to which everyone has access to would create more value. By chance, we had the wonderful opportunity to collaborate with the municipality of Zwolle, which was working on a similar project at the same time.

So, it came that we collected resources and features, providing them to the municipality, advising them on their project execution. Thus, together with the support of our stakeholders we gained more and more clarity and insights into what is needed to create and foster living community eco-systems.

Finally, we were able to deliver a toolkit, and opened a local Circular Economy Club to replicate an evolutionary-systems design to digital platforms and websites for intersectional community involvement, aiming to contribute to the transition to circular economies.

Team picture in a restaurant in Dublin, Ireland.

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