Nature's welfare is intertwined with humankinds' welfare, requiring mass citizen-led action. According to wildlife advocate David Attenborough, “we share responsibility for the future of life on earth, [we all have] the power to change.” To this end, the My Naturewatch project (MNW) follows research-through-design approaches: It deploys do-it-yourself (DIY) devices to support new methods of engagement between nature, technology, and humans. The MNW cameras help participants to capture images of their “back garden” wildlife. Through the MNW project, we (the authors) position cameras as agents, enabling “designed engagement(s)” that engender agency, serendipity, and impact.
This article recounts a training scheme used in the MNW project to provide nature organizations with methods to foster public engagement through DIY, accessible digital technologies. The scheme encourages appropriation that suits contextual, environmental, and organizational requirements. The authors unpack the experiences and issues realized (through practice) by 14 nationally acclaimed wildlife and conservation organizations, independently running workshops using the MNW project tools. Our findings report the issues and opportunities of designed community engagements for practitioners engaged with defining more sustainable practices.