Live Action for resourceful communities – project RECOMS

Some of the most pressing issues of our time are climate change and our currently unsustainable way of living. These challenges invite not just governments but also communities to take the lead, organize themselves, and work together to support transformative change. The ability to adapt effectively to the current environmental vulnerabilities in our society asks for an inherently sustainable and place-based approach. A key question is: how to nurture the inherent potential of all local stakeholders to become involved in creating adaptive and transformative sustainability pathways?
Community resourcefulness refers to the capacity of any community to work towards positively adapting or transforming their relationship with their environmental resource base in a manner that enhances community resilience. Community resourcefulness is seen as a key contributor to community resilience. Examples include the development of renewable energy systems, community food initiatives, forms of co-housing, environmental health care provisioning such as care farms and community gardens, outdoor educational and arts initiatives and various locally autonomous forms of ‘green’ service provisioning (community waste recycling, repair and reuse schemes).

A cross-cutting theme featuring across all projects, is the use of visual and creative research methods and techniques as a means of enhancing societal engagement, knowledge transfer and societal impact. The fellows learn skills to engage with the public and research participants via photography, creative visualization, theatre, and video making.

An example is the Live Action & Training project ‘The Energy of Groningen’ (August 2019) that focused on energy transition (see pictures). The fellows engaged with visitors of the yearly Noorderzon festival, who could think along about an energy-neutral Groningen. Their contributions were added to an exhibition in a container during the festival. RECOMS also went in search of solutions and opportunities to become self-sufficient in the field of energy together with residents from the Groningen neighborhood De Oosterpoort, which resulted in a theatre performance. The researchers collaborated with theater company PeerGrouP to present the results in a creative and accessible way.

According to the project leader in Groningen, Prof. Ina Horlings:

“For the creation and functioning of resourceful communities, collaboration with local associations and companies is indispensable. In addition, it is important that researchers transfer new information, such as research results, to residents in an understandable way. There should be space for creative outcomes, such as exhibitions or theater. But that is not all: the knowledge and creativity of citizens themselves are also a source of inspiration to jointly create a new story. It is about a different, more creative way of working Producing scientific publications is no longer enough”

(In: RUG-industry relations 2020, Samen kennis en innovaties ontwikkelen: towards a circular economy, p.18-19). More information can be found on

This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 765389.

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