We’ve been talking about why case studies matter, the different challenges we face as busy practitioners and how to support the Ecostage community in sharing their work, experience and ideas.

A lot of sustainability reporting focuses on robust statistics (which is important), but can feel quite dry, with a focus on the end product. Sometimes, there’s no space for the story of why a particular route was taken in creating the piece. 

Ruth states that so much of design work is about seeing the end visual product.  On a recent project, she wanted to connect community wellbeing with the way she went about her research into different fabrics to reflect the heritage of a specific neighbourhood.  This approach acknowledged the diverse strands of that community, which went beyond face value; you wouldn’t get these details when reporting whether the fabric itself was new/used or how many miles it came from – case studies give us the space for this storytelling, which is often lost.

But the challenge is putting words to paper – carving out the time to do that and not getting distracted by other tasks. Paul reflected that some things are important but get neglected because they don’t have a deadline; reflection is one of those things; even though it’s an important part of our creative lives, it can easily be pushed aside. 

How do Ecostage directors approach writing reflections like case studies?

Paul: I write in the evenings when things are quieter, and I use any tools I can to make the process easier… short of getting AI to write it for me! I use Apple’s built-in dictation a lot and tools like Grammarly and Hemmingway.

Andrea: As someone with dyslexia, I find it challenging to write a case study as I  can get frozen around being perfect. I have come to realize that I would rather be part of the conversation than not have a voice. There are many ways to engage, and I am personally keen that we are open to all styles. The case study form was created with this in mind, with a number of optional fields. One approach can be to upload images and use them to anchor and share your backstory. 

Ruth: As a busy mum, I do find it hard to set aside the time and remember the value in putting these thoughts down over another task from the neverending list. I need to shut the door to my studio, turn off email notifications, put on some good focus music (nothing I want to sing along to) and sit down with a cup of tea to put something to paper (maybe a scented candle, too).  If I only have a limited time to do it – even better! Get the initial thoughts down, then I can come back and edit later.