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Publication - Report

Shifting normal - designing projects to tackle climate change: full guide

Published: 15 Jul 2015
Directorate:
Energy and Climate Change Directorate
Part of:
Environment and climate change
ISBN:
9781785445088

This guide is designed to help community groups tackling climate change maximise their success by taking account of how change happens when planning, carrying out and reviewing their activities.

27 page PDF

298.2 kB

27 page PDF

298.2 kB

Contents
Shifting normal - designing projects to tackle climate change: full guide
Part 2: Using the Four Questions and Four Zones framework to deliver effective projects

27 page PDF

298.2 kB

Part 2: Using the Four Questions and Four Zones framework to deliver effective projects

The Four Questions and Four Zones framework is designed to help community groups tackling climate change to maximise their success by taking account of how change happens when planning, carrying out and reviewing their activities. It can be helpful at all stages of a project, from developing initial ideas to final review and reporting.

  • Initial scoping: Once the issue the community wants to address has been identified, the framework can help you understand the current situation: what is holding back change and what might help move things forward. It can help to prioritise these issues and decide which ones the project could tackle directly and which ones may need the support and involvement of other community groups, the local authority, government agencies etc.
  • Funding applications: The framework can be used to structure any funding applications, demonstrating that the community understands the issues and how the project will address them.
  • Project design: At the start of the project use the framework to develop detailed project plans. The same process can be used to develop specific strands of the project, campaigns, events etc. Whatever you are asking people to do, make sure it's easy for them to answer 'yes' to all four questions and that all four zones are helping rather than hindering the activity.
  • Team briefing: Use it in the briefing and training of the project team and any partner organisations so everyone understands what the project is trying to achieve and how it aims to do that.
  • Project reviews: The framework can be used as part of an ongoing review or at the end of the project to help you understand what worked and what could have been done differently. How easy was it for everyone to answer 'yes' to all four questions? Were there differences between groups? Did the project activities support change across all four zones? This learning can inform the continuing project or any follow up stages.

The rest of the guide focuses on using the framework for project design; however the same principles can be applied to the other areas noted above.

Designing projects with the Four Questions and Four Zones

This section of the guide describes one way you can incorporate the Four Questions and Four Zones framework in initial scoping and project design. However, feel free to use the framework with whatever approach to project design you prefer.

The most important thing is that your project makes it easier for more people answer 'yes' to all four questions. This is more likely if all four zones are helping rather than hindering the change your community wants to see.

Here project design is broken down into four steps. Once you are clear about the change you want, use the Four Questions and Four Zones to discover what matters, then to help decide what the project will do, and finally use the Four Questions and Four Zones to develop clear, consistent messages.

Be clear about the change:

Agree what issue your community group wants to tackle

Decide the specific changes your community group seeks

Discover what matters:

Find out what people feel and think about the change

Find out what might help or hinder them to make the change

Work out who could help develop and deliver the project

Decide what the project will do:

Identify possible activities

Work out how other people and organisations could help

Decide the project's main activities and partners to cover all Four Zones

Develop clear, consistent messages:

Communicate to reinforce the issues that are helpful to the change

Ensure every aspect of your project supports the change

Support staff and volunteers and engage with partner organisations

Be clear about the change:

Agree what issue your community group wants to tackle

Decide the specific changes your community group seeks

Be clear about the change

If your community group wants to change things, taking the time to understand the current situation and plan carefully ensures your time and energy will be focused where they'll be most effective. The two essential steps are agreeing the specific changes that the project will address, and discovering as much as possible about the situation and what might help or hinder those changes.

Agree what issue your community group wants to tackle

The community group may already have an idea of the general area it wants to tackle, such as reducing carbon emissions by promoting cycling, in which case the starting point is clear. Some groups may want to make the area a better place to live and work, others may be interested in taking action on climate change. In these situations, asking members and the local community what they would like to see is a good place to start.

If you are considering a number of options, estimating the possible carbon savings can help decide what the priorities might be. (See Climate Challenge Fund Low Carbon Route Maps.)

Decide the specific changes your community group seeks

It's much easier to plan a project if you are as specific as possible about what you want to change and who it will be relevant to.

If, for example, your community group aims to increase cycling locally, a project to increase the number of adults cycling to work will be quite different from one for children cycling to school. Understanding the particular situation locally is also important: a project to 'reduce energy use in the home' will be different if the homes are on mains gas or using oil, or whether they are owner occupied, privately rented or social housing.

Notes

You might find ideas and inspiration from other groups. Find out what's happening locally, look at case studies and news from the Climate Challenge Fund and the Scottish Communities Climate Action Network.

Many people will want to see changes for a host of reasons, they may not even realise or be particularly interested in the fact they can save carbon. Are local people already calling for improved public transport or cycle provision? Is the community hall cold and draughty? Do people want new allotments?

You may need to have a number of discussions and to do some research before you can develop a short list of the specific changes the project aims to address.

It may be more effective to focus on a specific change with a particular group than to spread the project widely over a number of activities with different groups of people.

Be clear about the change:

Agree what issue your community group wants to tackle

Decide the specific changes your community group seeks

How Sustaining Dunbar became clear about the change

Sustaining Dunbar has developed a number of different projects since 2008. Related projects have been developed by groups that grew out of earlier work such as the Dunbar Cycling Group. This case study draws on the experience of a number of different projects to illustrate the scoping and project design process suggested in this guide.

People wanted to cycle, walk and use public transport

Sustaining Dunbar's work on transport started with a group of local people keen to create a shift to more sustainable travel in town. They carried out research among the local community to find out more about the journeys that people made, and to understand the reasons why they used certain means of travel and not others. They found that many people were keen to cycle, walk and use public transport more but didn't for a number of reasons.

Different groups of people needed different changes to make it easier to cycle, walk or use public transport

They also discovered that there were a number of different journeys that people made, or wanted to make, on cycle, foot or public transport and that people living in different areas and taking different journeys had different needs and concerns. This knowledge made it possible to decide on specific changes that would make it easier for particular groups to travel in the way they wanted. For example:

  • People living in some nearby villages were cut off from the town centre by a busy dual carriageway and narrow roads. For them, safe paths were a priority.
  • A number of people wanted to cycle to the shops instead of using the car. Bike trailers could make that more practicable.
  • Some people commuting by car could use public transport, perhaps with folding bikes, if they knew about timetables or if the times of trains and buses were more suitable.

Discover what matters:

Find out what people feel and think about the change

Find out what might help or hinder them to make the change

Work out who could help develop and deliver the project

Discover what matters

Now you've decided on the particular change(s) the project will focus on and the people who it will involve, it is important to understand what this change might mean for people and to identify possible areas the project could address.

Find out how people feel and think about the change…

Use the framework on page 12 to understand what this change might mean for people. Putting yourself in their shoes, imagine what their response would be to each of the questions in the table. This can be a desk-based exercise or part of a workshop.

In many cases this will be quite easy, especially if the people are similar to those developing the project. But this won't always be the case: if the Parent Council wants to encourage more children to cycle to school and the project is being developed by a group of parents who are keen cyclists, their views about cycling may be very different from those of parents who don't cycle.

…and what might help or hinder them to make the change

The issues you identified as relevant in the previous stage may either be helpful, making the change attractive and easier, or they may hinder change in some way. Some may be neutral. Some may relate to just one Question and Zone, others may touch on several. Review this list and decide which are the most important.

Work out who could help develop and deliver the project

So far you have been using the Four Questions and Four Zones to understand the situation from a participant's perspective. Use it now to identify individuals, groups, organisations and initiatives that might be able to help you develop and deliver the project.

Notes

See the workshop outline (available to download) for more detail. If you are tackling more than one change it's best to do this exercise with each of them separately.

It may be helpful to carry out some research to find out what people feel and think about the change. Often just talking about the change informally can reveal a lot.

You should now have a list of issues - inspired by the Four Questions and Four Zones - that are relevant to the change.

You should now have a list of helpful issues and a list of the issues that hinder change, and an idea of which are likely to be priorities for your project: either to build on, or to try and overcome.

You may already have identified some organisations etc. in the previous stage, use these also to create a list of people and organisations that could help the project.

What mattered for Sometown Cycle Group

Sustaining Dunbar carried out their projects before the Four Question and Four Zones framework was developed, so this example is imaginary. Issues that could help are bold, those that might hinder are italic, neutral or 'it depends' are plain text. People and organisations that might be able to help the project are asterixed*.

I

We

They

It

Does it feel right?

Exercise and fresh air feels good; rain and cold feels bad

Good for family to get exercise; makes town less dangerous, cleaner air.

Feelings of freedom; but also of danger

Some of us cycle occasionally already; but don't feel comfortable arriving hot and sweaty

Parents: setting example for children; Workers: exercise helps creativity and focus at work; Community leaders: makes town more liveable, safer for all; Sporting types: get exercise more often

Local cyclist* won gold at Commonwealth games, promotes cycling on TV

It can feel easier to take the car when it's already sitting outside the house

Feel ridiculous wearing cycling gear to just go to the shops

Does it make sense?

Exercise, no parking hassle, no cost of fuel; but can't carry much, or give people lifts.

Believe people on bikes have as much right to be on the road as cars; but it is the cyclist who gets hurt

Often share lifts in cars going to swimming pool, evening classes etc, if just one is cycling miss out on the chat

People often say it's a good idea but too dangerous

Cycling is technically illegal on useful short cuts across town through vennels and across parks

Petrol prices are likely to rise

People with a new car may want to make the most of it

Is it do-able?

Know how to cycle; but don't know how to fix bikes.

Not confident on busy roads

Some friends are more experienced, perhaps go on trips with them?

Local cycle club*, but very competitive, might not welcome ordinary cyclist

There are local bike shops* but people may feel intimidated due to lack of technical knowledge

Council* and Sustrans* developing long distance cycle path which goes through town

Lots of people already have a bike they rarely use

Several roads are very busy and dangerous

Will it fit into my day?

Yes for trips where don't have to carry much or give lifts

Going to supermarket as a family would be difficult

Could cycle with children to Scouts, Guides etc

Depends on specific trips

Bikes often kept in back garden or garage so not easy to get out when in a rush

Decide what the project will do:

Identify possible activities

Work out how other people and organisations could help

Decide the project's main activities and partners to cover all Four Zones

Decide what the project will do

In the scoping stage you have decided what change the project will focus on and have used the Four Questions and Four Zones to identify the issues that may help or hinder people taking up the change. You also identified who could help the project. With this understanding of the situation you are in a good position to start developing the project.

Identify possible activities

For each issue on the list of issues that could help, consider how your project can make the most of it. For example, if the change is already happening in the social group the project is working with, could those people share their experience in some way, so others feel comfortable doing it too? If the benefits of the change outweigh the costs, how might this be communicated?

For the issues that hinder, what could the project do to help overcome these? If people don't have the skills, is training possible? If the public transport timetables make it difficult, can these be changed?

Work out how other people and organisations could help

Using your list of people and organisations that could help, consider in more detail how that might work. Do you already have a good relationship with them? How will you develop trust if necessary? They will all have their own objectives and priorities, how can your project help them while also promoting your own aims?

Decide the project's main activities and partners

As you decide on your activities and partners, you may need to go through this process more than once to match the project to your community group's skills, experience, capacity and resources - and the availability of outside funding if required.

Notes

Again, you may find inspiration and ideas from other community groups that have run projects on similar issues. Most will be happy to share their experience of what worked for them and what was less successful.

Identify possible activities to address all the issues on your lists.

Which activities could these people and organisations help with? How might you work together?

By the end this stage you should have refined your project, with a clear idea of the project activities and how they will help bring about the change that people want.

Develop clear, consistent messages:

Communicate to reinforce the issues that are helpful to the change

Ensure every aspect of your project supports the change

Support staff and volunteers and engage with partner organisations

Develop clear and consistent messages

You have now worked out what the project will do, you now need to decide how to it.

Communicate to reinforce the issues that are helpful to the change

The same project could be promoted and communicated in many different ways. Consider how the project's communications - newsletters, websites, posters, leaflets etc. - can all reinforce the 'helping' issues you identified above. Use the Four Questions and Zones to help design each step of your communication and engagement plan.

Ensure every aspect of your project supports the change

It's not just the specific project activities or the official communications that will influence what people think - and feel - about the project and the change it is encouraging: it's everything the project and those involved actually do. Consider how the project can build and maintain trust, lead by example and avoid sending unintentional conflicting messages.

Support staff and volunteers and engage with partner organisations

Make sure project staff and volunteers understand the approach the project is taking, and the importance of following it through in the work they do.

Partner organisations may have their own approaches, which are not fully aligned with the approach you project is taking. Discuss with partners how you can avoid conflicting messages and ideally share a consistent approach. This will become easier as you build mutual respect and trust.

Notes

For example, show that: the project taps into the local culture and traditions; respected people in the community support the project; trusted organisations are involved; and the necessary skills exist or can be easily learned.

We all have to live and work in a world where compromises between emitting carbon and getting things done sometimes have to be made. But saying one thing while doing another can damage trust and credibility. It won't help if, for example, the project promotes cycling to work while staff commute just few miles by car or drive regularly on project business when alternatives are available.

It may be helpful to introduce the Four Questions and Four Zones to staff and volunteers so they can understand why the project is designed the way it is, and so they can apply it in their work.

Likewise showing partners how the framework informs the project will help them understand how they are contributing, and make it easier to develop a shared approach.


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