Dr Samantha Kies-Ryan

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Areas of interest: Community-based ater management, Community-based climate change adaptation, Co-creative media, Visual creative methods, Community cultural mapping, Participatory action research, Reflective practice, Creative facilitation

Master of Communication for Social Change from the University of Queensland
Bachelor of Communication, Media and Culture from the University of South Australia

Samantha is a communication, community engagement and social impact specialist. She is the Co-Director of Earth Water People, a company that works with communities to supply them with clean water now and into the future. She is an experienced communications and media professional with 15 years’ experience working in Australia and the Pacific in communication for development and social change, community-based media across print, radio, digital storytelling and film. She has a Bachelor of Communication, Media and Culture from the University of South Australia and a Master degree in Communication for Social Change from the University of Queensland. Her Doctorate of Creative Industries is focused on using storytelling and visual creative methods as community cultural engagement processes in community-based water management in the Solomon Islands.

Thesis title: Wata hemi laef (water is life): using visual creative methods to facilitate community engagement in community-based water management in the Solomon Islands

This practice-led participatory action research was undertaken with the Barana Community Nature and Heritage Park (BCNHP) and Solomon Islands National University (SINU) to co-create creative visual storytelling processes for community engagement in the community-based water management initiative BCNHP in the Solomon Islands. The need to manage watersheds and water sources sustainably is urgent, as access to clean water now and into the future is a key challenge for Pacific states impacted by climate change (IPCC, 2018). We will need major transformational shifts in the way that we interact with our biosphere, water and oceans in order to provide water access for all. To be able to manage and protect our water sources into the future, there a need for transdisciplinary work across academic disciplines, but also between Western and non-Western epistemologies (Alexander et al., 2011). To be able to meet the complex challenges of our world, we need transformative shifts in the way that we communicate and listen to each other (Harris, 2018). For communities at a grassroots level the whole of the community needs to be engaged, including women who have a strong role to play in the management of water and food security (Vunisea et al., 2015). Dialogue and broader participation between communities, governments and the NGOs and other stakeholders working in water and climate change projects, appears to be missing in practice, and can ultimately limit their sustainability and impact (Arrighi & Walker, 2014; Harris, 2017). Tackling climate change impacts and risks needs to be considered in new, creative ways that involve collaboration and for all voices in the community to be taken into account (Harris, 2014:82). Participatory media can have an important role to play in creating dialogical space for different epistemologies to be heard, as it can be a powerful process in order to integrate indigenous knowledge in community-based climate change adaptation (Inamara & Thomas, 2017). In the research process creative processes of using photo elicitation and photostory in generative and dialogical phases facilitated a space for problem solving and broader conversation within the community. The creative process had two phases- generative and dialogical- in which youth took photographs of the water sources and constructed photo stories reflecting on the past, present and future. The elders were then invited to view the photos and photo stories and to ‘remix’ the photos that were taken to create their own stories in response. This opened up a space for intergenerational dialogue around cultural knowledge and values that traditionally protect the water sources and communicative action in community cultural mapping of these stories and knowledge in the BCNHP. The dialogical processes embedded in the work led to the co-creation of two videos with the community along with a process video and website which situate the work. These findings have implications for practitioners, teachers and communities engaged in community-based water resource management, but also for co-creative media practitioners who are interested in engaging visual creative methods in facilitating community dialogue.
Principle Supervisor: Dr Verena Thomas
Associate Supervisors : Dr Christina Spurgeon, Dr Thomas Dick, The Planet Spins (Professional Mentor)

Estimated completion date: June, 2021