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By Leaves We Live
By Leaves We Live (BLWL) was a community engagement initiative launched by PAS inspired by Sir Patrick Geddes (1854-1932; founding father of town planning). It looked at innovative approaches to raise awareness of the connection between planning decisions and sustaining Scotland’s natural spaces: from urban woodlands to the natural landscapes of our national parks. The project brought together built environment professionals and artists to find solutions to engaging the wider public in relation to Scotland’s natural environment.

BLWL marked the Year of Natural Scotland 2013. It was carried out in collaboration with Creative Scotland, Forestry Commission Scotland, Central Scotland Green Network and Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation.
BLWL teamed artists with planning professionals to reflect and develop a new language, understanding and tools to capture public knowledge and so enable a wider discussion on what is important to people in everyday life in relation to Scotland’s natural resources. The project placed special emphasis on learning by direct experience (learning by doing) and positive expressions of creativity. There was utilization of artistic mediums ranging from panoramic/palindromic sketching of landscapes, poetry and photo imagery, sculpture, and photography and sketching with the use of overlays.

The six BLWL projects:

Urban Forests: Easterhouse – Photography
Renewable Energy and the Natural Landscape: Loch Lomond and the Trossachs – Drawing
Forest Restructuring: Borders – Poetry
East Coast Biodiversity and Coastal Challenges: Tayside and Grampian – Sculpture
West Coast Biodiversity and Coastal Challenges: South Highland – Visual Art
Sir Patrick Geddes: Edinburgh – Writing/Word Mapping

The outcomes of the projects included: identification of new ways to understand the competing demands of nature in urban areas, development of an artists’ book of landscape drawings, facilitated discussion and debate on issues ranging from coastal biodiversity to forest regeneration, and production of new visual tools for engagement with the public and wider stakeholders.

Quotes from participants included:

“I have learnt how photography can improve community engagement.” “Generally mind broadening and a good learning experience – something different, exciting and thought provoking which has got me using my sketch book more.” “Provided a rare chance to reflect on how landscape is represented in cultural and planning terms, and what it means to different people.” “Very unusual project which struck a good balance between the experimental side of using language and poetry and applying this to planning practice and consultation. I enjoyed meeting and working with the other planners and gaining insight to Geddes.” “It helped confirm that I can be creative!”

You can view the project booklet here and look at the video about the project by SummerhallTV below.

For more information on this project, please contact Robert Pickles on 0131 659 9776 or