POLLINOPOLY: A BOARDGAME TO EXPLAIN THE COMPLEXITIES OF LAND USE AND ITS IMPACT ON BIODIVERSITY
Pollinopoly re-imagines Monopoly as a co-operative game which re-assesses ideas around aesthetic and ecolgical values. Instead of urban locations, the game features a succession of familiar green landscapes. Each square has an initial value attached to it, but in this case it is an ecological value as opposed to a monetary one. Some of the squares which are arguably valued least in terms of attractiveness to humans, are the most valuable in terms of their ecological rating.
These ratings are presented as a ‘trip advisor’ style star system. The idea of the game is to work together improve the ratings in order to make the each square on the board as habitable and as healthy as possible for as many species as possible.
The game is the final output of interviews with biologist, ecologists and land managers and workshop based research into the public's attitude towards beauty vs ecolgical health. This project is still being developed and I am currently re-designing the game to be relevant for specific stakeholders.
This project is a timely intervention, amidst huge debate on how we manage land on all scales. The conversion to regenerative farming, embraced by many forward thinking land managers, remains contraversial to many others. And while many householders are seeking to create nature friendly gardens, there are also many more who apparently feel more comfortable eradicating nature from their garden altogether, with sales of artificial grass increasing exponentially over the past decade.
Research props: Inspired by the TV show 'Play your cards right' the large photographic prints were exhibited in a busy area where passers by were invited to arrange the cards in the order they found the landscapes to be most aesthetically pleasing. They were then asked to place the cards in the order of their perceived ecological value (ie how many species present etc). The rolling hills were overwhelmingly the favourite, despite the fields being a monocrop of ryegrass.
On the back of the photographic cards were expert 'trip advisor' style ecological ratings, the result of an interview with biologist Dave Goulson. Once the participants had placed their cards in order, they were invited to look at these ratings to compare and contrast with their assumptions.
I also investigated friend's and family's lawns, comparing how these householders viewed their lawns (eg. pride in perfection/embarrassment of weeds/aspirations of weedfree and neat) with photographs of the lawns themselves, where the 'embarrassing' lawns arguably scored higher points for their biodiversity. This also provided valuable insights into the conflict between human aesthetic needs and the needs of other garden species.
The research findings were then fed into the Pollinopoly cards, which as well as being playable cards for the game, also condensed information gleaned during interiews with experts. So here, for examples, the high-rating grazing land (in terms of human aesthetics) scores poorly in ecological terms, with opportunities to improve the land forming part of the game play. This is repeated for all of the cards.