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The last few months have been a very busy time for Livewell Yarra with Decarb groups continuing to form and lots of events and activities to keep everyone engaged. Livewell PhD Candidate Darren Sharp facilitated two asset mapping workshops in August with a number of Livewell participants at Mark St Hall in North Fitzroy.

Asset-based community development (ABCD) is a strength-based approach Darren is utilising as part of his PhD research on 'Stewarding Low Carbon Communities'.  ABCD has been successfully used in the community sector to reveal the hidden assets of individuals and views communities as the starting point for change and abundant in capacity for change at the grassroots level.

Darren's research is trying to discover whether ABCD can build capacity for Livewell participants to take actions that reduce carbon emissions. Livewell participants were inducted into the ABCD process by initially sharing stories of success in reaching personal carbon reduction goals. Storytelling can become a powerful catalyst for ‘inside-out’ or community-led change when people are invited to participate in a change process as active citizens.


At the asset mapping workshops, Livewell participants were invited to map individual assets, referred to as gifts of the head (things I know about), gifts of the heart (things I care about) and gifts of  the hands (skills I know how to do). These assets took many forms including knowledge about languages, passion for helping asylum seekers and hands-on skills in composting. These gifts can then become an anchor for individual and collective decision-making around specific actions and help focus goal-setting based on existing capacities.

With the personal assets of Livewell participants revealed the next stage involved mapping relationships to local organisations, associations and institutions.

A Livewell Yarra asset map has been created. Let Darren know if you would like to add your gifts to the map (Email: ). This map is a starting  point to match Livewell participants’ assets with opportunities to take actions that reduce carbon emissions, assist decarb groups, projects or the wider community.

This research is interested in finding out how asset maps can be used to reveal a ‘system level’ perspective on the interconnected resources that exist within a community for the purpose of enabling action on carbon reduction.

Asset mapping is a participant-driven way to make the invisible visible, help local communities connect the dots in their neighbourhoods and reveal new pathways for active citizenship.

Community assets

Following on from this, Livewell recently held its AGM  and ran a community visioning exercise using an approach called Dream Pair Share.

People paired off and created three phrases or images to describe the community they would most want to be part of at some point in the future. Next the pairs shared their visions and the reasons behind them with their partner, then chose three dreams they would like to bring to the larger group.

Teams put each dream on a post-it note and added them to the appropriately titled dream wall. Similar dreams were clustered together and people picked the cluster they were most drawn to. Groups then self-organised around a number of project ideas on cycling, the sharing economy, community connections and participatory democracy.

The next stage of the research involves taking these project ideas and developing them through a using a co-design process. This will start by assembling design teams who use brainstorming to develop as many ideas as possible related to the potential project. The focus converges on a shortlist of ideas which are selected for the creation of simple paper-based prototypes using markers and paper.


This ‘rapid prototyping’ will be used to generate, test and refine ideas using emergent collaboration. Prototypes will then be reviewed for desirability, feasibility and viability, with the most promising turned into pilot projects.

The first of our co-design workshops is coming up and will assist the 'Bike Curious' team to develop an early stage buddy system concept to match riders and non-riders in the City of Yarra. Get in touch if you're interested in participating or would like Darren to run a co-design session with your  Livewell project group.




Livewell started as an action research project funded by the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Low Carbon Living, delivered through Curtin University and supported by the City of Yarra and Yarra Energy Foundation. Further funding was then provided by the CRC to produce the online Guide to running a ‘Livewell Group’


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