Everyone Can Be an Eco-Designer


A Gaiascape eco-design activity.​

A core purpose of eco-design is integrating ecological principles into daily living. In highly urbanised areas like Beijing, everyday life can be frenetic – people often want a sense of peace, away from the hustle and bustle of the city. They yearn to inject some green into their routines. They long for the deep serenity of nature. Eco-change is happening! Eco-gardens and revitalised land have been appearing in public spaces in various districts across Beijing. Residents are transforming wasteland into small eco-designed community gardens, where they grow plants, gather fallen leaves for mulch, raise earthworms for composting, and collect rainwater. 

PCD has been promoting diverse pathways to foster connections with nature and sustainable living. In 2020, we supported Friends of Nature Foundation and FON · Gaiascape Studio (Gaiascape) to develop an eco-designer course. Gaiascape has been promoting sustainable landscape design through public education, conservation, and spatial redesign initiatives. They are enhancing the ecodesign perspectives of individuals and community leaders, so that they can observe and learn from nature’s wisdom, and then redesign urban spaces in harmony with nature.

Participants from all over China joined a three-day workshop with the support of project scholarships. They shared ecological and environmental challenges they have experienced, learned permaculture design principles that equally stress nature’s functionality and aesthetics, and worked together in small groups to apply new knowledge. One exercise was to eco-design the training venue, bearing in mind the functions of the space, and incorporating local culture and materials. Many participants said how difficult landscape design can be, but that the workshop gave them confidence that “everyone can be an eco-designer” and can reinvent the way they live.

Our partners also helped form a national network with eco-design and permaculture participants for continued learning and practice. They awarded small grants for work with a range of groups – urban communities, suburban farms, various schools, and villages too. This fostered an amazing range of experimental eco-projects: from public space redesign as in rooftop gardens, or redesigning daily routines to now include composting, waste sorting and upcycling. 

Transformation starts with the smallest changes we make in our lives. Be it a neighbourhood, an apartment, a garden, or even a small neglected street corner, we can always reimagine and redesign how we can live more sustainably, with nature, and in nature.