CM1 The Collaboration
The first Community Modelling (CM) project involved a social scientist and a scientific modeller from the School of Geography and the Environment at Oxford University collaborating with Thames 21 officers focussing particularly on the River Lea.
Thames 21 is a London wide Rivers Trust working to reconnect people with the environment, focussing on the River Thames. The scientists worked in a project called MaRIUS that was investigating impacts of drought and water scarcity in the UK.
Thames 21's work and the MaRIUS project do not spontaneously cross paths, but there was a team of natural scientists in the research project who were examining water quality and a team of social scientists who were exploring public engagement methods. These groups were already collaborating on a participatory research method called Environmental Competency Groups. Eager to convert this method into something that would benefit local communities the scientists made contact with Thames 21. They figured that the INCA model for water quality could become a useful tool for Thames 21’s work with local river restoration.
In an initial meeting the scientists and the Thames 21 officers were able to identify a shared interest and agree to embark on the CM experiment. The aim was to make the scientific computer model useful for the local community engaging with the London Lea.