Invisible coast : creating connection between people and Wellington’s coastal marine environments through design

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Massey University
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Invisible Coast is a web-tool prototype created to grow the connection between people in Wellington and our coasts. Aotearoa’s coastlines are facing unprecedented ecological challenges due to human-created climate change. In Te Whanganui-a-Tara our sea levels are rising by 3mm a year, the water temperature is increasing and habitats are being destroyed by infrastructure encroaching along our coasts. This is in part due to our disconnected relationship with the natural world around us. My research aims to understand how we might use design as a catalyst to strengthen the connection between Wellingtonians and our coastal marine spaces, creatures and habitats. This research uses a planet-oriented design methodology to make sure that creating an output that has benefits to the natural world around us remains at the heart of the project. Invisible Coast is built using a framework called The Five Pathways to Nature Connectedness. Activating the five pathways of contact through beauty, emotion, cultural meaning and compassion through the web-tool creates an increased feeling of connection between the audience and our natural world. The pathways have been modified slightly from their original form to work within an online and Aotearoa-specific context. While remaining engaging for all Wellingtonians, the tool is primarily designed for those who have limited prior knowledge about our marine spaces. Much of the available information about our coastal marine environments is created by scientists and is hard to understand for people who are new to the language around marine conservation. Through the use of accessible language and storytelling, Invisible Coast aims to create a space where everyone can learn about the creatures and habitats on our doorstep. Invisible Coast is a prototype and proposed as a case study for how we might increase our connection to the coastal marine environment using design methodology and the Five Pathways to Nature Connectedness. As we look towards the future this tool might act as a springboard for further research.