Nikolett Puskas (PhD, UCL Institute for Global Prosperity)
The ESRC support helped me to carry out my first fieldwork activities in Budapest over the summer of 2018. My research investigates place-based values of wellbeing and the good life in the context of public spaces. Working with local communities, we identify infrastructural challenges and address the most pressing one via ecosystem services and nature-based solutions. Throughout the process, local complexities (e.g. legislative, physical, economic, technical) are unveiled allowing for tailored and more effective proposals for the collaborative development of urban environments. The participatory process requires intensive engagement over an extended period of time to introduce oneself and build trust with the local community of the fieldwork site. In Budapest, I got to know and work with very inspirational multiple stakeholders, including a diverse community, open-minded municipality, NGOs and local initiatives.
Our collaborative inquiries lead to addressing challenges around waste (especially green ‘waste’, which should rather be called green goods) and water. With a local NGO, we developed a gamified intervention to address these in a playful manner, allowing for people’s empowerment, knowledge- and skill share. As a result, during a sunny September afternoon, under the guidance of professionals, the community built and painted pallet benches, a ‘compost hive’ – a Hungarian invention, learnt about different types of waste and opportunities to reduce and recycle, also decorating their own textile shopping bags.
Furthermore, calculated their household water consumption, identified opportunities of rainwater harvesting and finally, spontaneously decorated a firewall. Thanks to the kindness of the municipality, this event also marked the opening of a new community space at this location to pilot possibilities. We continue to maintain relationships with the people and partners in Budapest, all of who taught me a lot throughout the course of this fieldwork and I am immensely grateful for the experiences and all contributions went into this work.