The Green Paths strives to effect positive change within the city's social fabric, for which reason a qualitative approach to research is fundamental to our project.
Qualitative social research uses an unstructured, open design, capable of taking shape over the course of an investigation, allowing us to address the unique characteristics of any given context.
By collecting and analysing data in this way, we can take into account the rich and subjective depth of personal opinion; people's needs and satisfactions, their criticisms and suggestions. By listening and giving value to the contributions made by all members of the community, we are able to achieve our true objective, which is to understand and act upon the concerns of local residents.
At the heart of this project are children , which is why their contribution represents the main focus of our research. They are seen as citizens with rights; capable of expressing themselves freely, directly and without prejudice, whose valuable insights help us to assess the quality of life in their city.
The children's drawings, notes and practical suggestions form the basis for the architectural project. By listening to their creative ideas and welcoming their observations , the project takes shape and a partnership is formed, where different points of view, approaches and attitudes can be exchanged . The aim of this collaboration is to ensure a harmonious landscape, creating solutions and spaces that incorporate the identity of both the place and the people who live there.
A tool that is vital to our research is the "Notebooks explorer ©", , which provides a creative and personalised way of collecting data. The content and layout of the journals is adapted to the individuals involved , so as to capture their unique observations and reflections. Taking part are children, mothers with pushchairs, elderly people and representatives for organisations of persons with disabilities . All of the participants have their own unique perspective of the city, as well as their own specific concerns regarding safety and accessibility.
By definition, the Explorer's Journal is a way for children and adults alike to express their thoughts, their ideas and their wishes. Each contribution is made according to the personal experiences of the individual, reflecting the nuances of their personality, background and current stage of life.
As well as their thoughts and wishes, the little explorers write down any questions they might have concerning educational themes, such as civic responsibility, road safety and the environment. They note any questions that come up during local field trips regarding a range of issues, such as architectural barriers, accessibility or disability. When identifying problems, all of the criticisms and solutions they describe are based on direct observation and experiences in the field.
The children rediscover their city by drawing and colouring their ideas, reimagining it to accommodate everybody's needs. The image they create is of a more accessible, more welcoming, brighter, tidier, safer city, with lots of green spaces and communal areas. By taking part in this hands-on, experimental journey, the children become not only explorers, but architects, designers, builders and decorators. The journals have been created to contain the journeys and dreams of our explorers, much in the way a notebook contains the writings of a poet or the scores of a musician.
Our aim is to instil a thirst for knowledge and discovery in these students, like the very first anthropologists and ethnographers. We accompany them on their journey, sharing in their amazement and wonder as they make real discoveries, first-hand. By being in the field and using all of their senses to make observations, they develop not only a critical eye, but respect for the concept of otherness. Moreover, they learn the importance of asking questions, to challenge themselves and what they know. It is a meeting of minds, a journey, a rite of passage.
Dr. Nicoletta Salamone - Educator, responsible SOCIAL RESEARCH, founder and creator of "NOTEBOOKS © SCOUT" (the copyright holder on notebooks) as a crucial tool of qualitative research.