Workshops with Citizens in Tomelilla, Sweden

Master student explores Doughnut Unrolled tools together with citizens of the municipality to start a Community Portrait

Starting Citizen Engagement

At the end of November 2022, I conducted two workshops in the municipality of Tomelilla, Sweden as part of my master's thesis for the M.Sc. Geography of Global Change at the University of Freiburg. The thesis is part of a more long-term collaboration between Tomelilla and researchers from the University of Freiburg and the Luxembourg Institute for Socio Economic Research (LISER) that aims to explore the implementation of the Doughnut model in the local context (see 'projects'). The administration of Tomelilla Kommun is currently exploring different ways to engage with Doughnut Economics and integrate its principles into their strategies, projects, and daily work. To start creating more outreach and participation within the municipality, the administration collaborated with me and helped organizing the workshops. They secured the local library as a venue and advertised the workshops through local newspaper, radio, social media and their website.

Workshop 1, Community Portrait of Place

The workshops lasted each about two hours and were meant to give an introduction about the Doughnut model to interested citizens, get ideas flowing and be a starting point to finding out, what thriving within the planetary boundaries means for the people in Tomelilla. The first workshop therefore was based on the Doughnut Unrolled tool Community Portrait of Place and to get people into the mindset, I used an adjusted version of Step into the Doughnut as an introduction. Due to the small group size and the given space, the chairs were used to symbolize the doughnut rings. The back of the chairs therefore represented the ecological ceiling while the front was imagined to be the social foundation, leaving us with a safe space to comfortably sit on: the seat of the chairs aka the inside of the doughnut. I invited participants to do a mindful walk, stepping past the chairs into the space of planetary overshoot and inside the circle, where people fall short on the essentials of life, in the end sitting back on their chairs appreciating the comfort this space gives them. While this was a much shorter version and adjusted to the circumstances, it really showed how you can make this tool your own and use it in various ways to get people connected to the idea.

Participants sharing their thoughts on the mindful walk aorund.

Introduction was followed by group discussions around the four lenses, and I asked participants to write down everything that comes to mind when thinking of their place. To structure the discussions a bit, there were questions spread on the canvases that could be used if necessary and sticky notes with different colours allowed participants to separate challenges in their place, change already underway or other thoughts and ideas they want to contribute.

Group discussion around the local-ecological lense

The second workshop was based on the tool Exploring a Topic with biodiversity at its center. I chose this topic in consultation with the administration as connecting biodiversity and nature conservation with social dimensions is an important step for their future strategies, like the Quality of Life Program or the Climate Roadmap. Again, this workshop was meant to be a starting point for future engagement with the Doughnut and the DEAL tools, so it was also an exploration of how it works to focus on a specific topic through the Doughnut lenses in practice. After a shorter introduction to the model and the four lenses, the group discussions were structured into two phases. First, participants were invited to discuss in small groups what is good about the topic and where they see challenges, with one group focusing on the ecological lenses and the other group on the social lenses. We collected thoughts on differently coloured sticky notes again. In the second phase two new colours and therefore impulses for discussion were added: orange for Questions that could help understand the topic better or give food for thought and yellow for any Ideas, Visions, Wishes, Projects etc. that they have.

Collecting thoughts on biodiversity from the ecological perspective on a local and global scale

Reflecting on the two workshops and interviews with the participants afterwards, I think that they were a great experience for all and a good starting point for future engagement. There was a very open and inviting atmosphere which made discussions and exchange easy, even with a Swedish filmteam accompanying the second workshop for their project on visions for a sustainable economy (Scenario2030). With the basics of the model in mind, we were able to talk about people’s place and their lives with a different light shed on it. Although the workshop language was English, but all participants were Swedish, the communication went smoothly and everyone supported each other when necessary, so that despite the small group sizes, interesting results emerged. We could have used more time to discuss and share more in-depth, but participants were eager to connect afterwards and follow up on the results. The collaboration with the local administration was immensely helpful and enriching. The thesis will discuss furthermore how more people from the municipality could be reached to expand the community portrait and spread the Doughnut idea.
A big thanks to DEAL and everyone involved!




    Stefan Persson

    Tomelilla kommun, Skåne län, Sverige

    Passionate about public sector innovation and holistic sustainability work.

    Anna Branten

    Malmö, Skåne län, Sverige

    I would like to get inspired, get connected and share thoughts on how to build new system, processes and businesses.

    Rieta Aliredjo

    Amsterdam, Noord-Holland, The Netherlands

    The doughnut is the goal we all can aspire to. Here is where we can help each other do that. Let's inspire and get inspired.

    Andrew Fanning

    Cádiz, Spain

    Data Analysis & Research Lead at DEAL


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