Eco-friendly and artistic interventions: creating more physically active and healthy lifestyles

First of all, thank you for this great opportunity to let us talk about our ‘idea’.
I’m Hojat Mohseni, with a Master of Research degree in change management from Iran. I and my colleagues were working on an interdisciplinary research proposal which was basically about using Eco-friendly and artistic interventions to create more physically active and healthy lifestyles and through this, I came to know about Professor Ruth Jepson and the interesting project that she’s leading in SCPHRP with her amazing team: “Stand-up for health”.

The ever-changing title of our proposal also has a ‘standing-up for …’ element as a central theme and we see this recurring motif as a way to invite our audiences to overcome inactivity in its broadest sense: literally and figuratively. Our proposal has a long and chaotically evolving story and I’ll try to give you a very short account here. Needless to say, the true story is much more complicated and messy.

Several years ago, while collaborating in writing an academic paper with the title of “Using Invisible Theater to improve safety in an industrial factory”, I discovered something that they call ‘organizational theatre’ and a wider relevant concept ‘artistic intervention [in organizations]’ (which simply means using artistic techniques in improving organizational outcome). After working on several Ph.D. proposals about different aspects of ‘artistic interventions’ I and my friends who were working on several projects and proposals decided to align our paths and focus on a problematic situation that can be improved through these unorthodox methods. Our encounter with the concept of ‘action research’ (A research approach that aims to improve a situation instead of merely observing and explaining it) plays an essential role in this change of heart.

One day I accidentally came across the interesting concept of ‘sedentary behavior’ and since then I don’t remember a day that I haven’t thought about or talk about it. I was spending a big part of my daily life reading articles and this sedentary lifestyle was annoying. I had started to use software such as text-aloud to listen to articles instead of reading them while walking around in my room or doing some chores. The more I read about the dangers of prolonged sitting time, the more I got convinced about my walking method of reading articles and it was like a research epiphany. I found my focus. We’re going to use artistic activities to sit less.

At those very times, we were trying ‘collaborative painting’ as a method in some workplaces and university classrooms to improve the employee and students performances and create a fun atmosphere for enabling collaboration and effective conversation between them. ‘The fine art of standing up’ became my new proposal: Just imagine people have something meaningful and exciting to do when they decide to stop sitting behind their computers at work.

At a later stage, we decided to replace artistic activities with ‘pro-environmental activities’ (because we are also very passionate about environmental issues and were trying to start an environmental initiative with the name of HomoGreenus or Green Human). We thought maybe “Eco-friendly activities” are more important and useful than artistic ones. For a while, our proposal title was “standing up for a green workplace”. Again a little later (and while we were constantly trying to change our title and proposal to attract some/more attention), we decided to bring back some playfulness to our proposal, expand beyond workplaces and its last title became “The playful art of (literally) standing up for a green and healthy lifestyle”.

Anyway, it’s only a dismembered report of what happens to me and my colleagues regarding this research proposal journey in recent years and I hope that I will be able to tell a more inclusive version of the story in future occasions. For the sake of brevity, I cannot talk more of the people and events that were instrumental in this bumpy yet exciting journey.

Right now we’re in talks with Professor Jepson to write a grant proposal around these very ideas while continuing our feasibility and pilot studies in our immediate communities (mostly classrooms [Sahar, my colleague and research partner is a physics teacher and lecturer] and probably some workplaces). Although we couldn’t find funded research position yet for this research ideas, we were able to create an amazingly diverse network of willing advisors and mentors who showed interest in helping and collaborating with us to spread these ideas. I guess our persistent follow-ups are finally paying off and we’re reaching some tipping points.

We aim to offer these ideas in the form of a multi-faceted (artistic, health, sustainability) change initiative model that can be carried out in very diverse settings and with different amount of (financial and human) resources. We see this lively and wide-ranging change method as a useful tool to actualize the Sustainable development goals of the UN in different communities around the globe with the help of participant. One basic tenet of ‘action research’ as our research strategy/philosophy is to do research ‘with and for’ stakeholders and not ‘on them’ and our major effort is to offer a well-designed user-friendly method to the broadest audience that we can imagine and hopefully many will join us in near future as our co-researchers.

We love to hear what your readers think about this approach and welcome any help that they are willing to offer.

Please send us a little email and tell us about yourself and the ways that you would like to engage in this fledgling project:

hojjjatmohseni@gmail.com

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