Reflections from the Team: Co-creating visual media about ecological processes for young people has just been published in a special issue of People and Nature. It is the result of a team effort by FIRE Lab, comics creator Ethan Kocak and media production company TankThink to create a comic and music video to engage 8-14 year olds with migratory fish and aquatic environments. You can read the full article here.
In the paper we chart and reflect on the process of creating the Shout Trout Workout, including conception of ideas, writing the poem, fact-checking and developing the storyline with scientists. In doing so, we draw out the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic on the creative and engagement process, discuss what helped us to collaborate effectively, and consider how the experience shaped our thoughts about the nature of collaboration itself. We discuss how we had to be flexible to respond to drivers from both outside and within our team. The journey to creating the Shout Trout Workout was not straightforward and involved what might be thought of as ‘dead-ends’ and time-consuming U-turns… but far from being a waste of time we found that these ‘riffles’ formed an important part of the process, and ultimately led to a more dynamic and thoughtful creation about a Brown trout’s migration story.
We found that collaboration can play out in nuanced ways and take a multitude of forms: from offering scientific steers, to ensuring a smooth process through diplomatic communication, and sharing outputs. Indeed, collaborators contributed to the Shout Trout Workout in unanticipated ways, showing the importance of openness and flexibility towards expertise and collaboration. Our experience thus contributes to a broader understanding of ‘co-creation’ as not only relevant for those who are highly artistic, but something that can be practiced on a spectrum and in myriad ways.
For now we hope that our reflections will be useful and inspiring for other creative partnerships aiming to make engagement material related to ecological processes. Moving forward we’re planning to use the Shout Trout Workout to engage school children in and around Swansea with migratory fish and freshwaters. Watch this space!