Phenology Probes: Exploring Human-Nature Relations for Designing Sustainable Futures

Shannon Rodgers, Bernd Ploderer, Kellie Vella, Margot Brereton

Session: Nature and the Home - Thursday 2022-12-01 13:30-15:00 AEDT
Paper Track
Video Presentation


Understanding and relating with nature is increasingly important in design as we aim to address the risks posed by anthropogenic climate change. Design methods are often human-centered and provide us with opportunities to reshape existing methods to foreground nature. Inspired by phenology, the study of cyclic biological events, this paper presents phenology probes: a method to study the multifaceted relations between humans and nature and how they are manifested in a particular time and place. Our phenology probe kit consisted of 3 activities: spatial mapping, phenology snapshotting, and phenology wheels. In deploying these probes with 20 gardeners we identified key relations with nature: Personal historic, multisensory, emotional, global, and climate activist relations. We discuss how these relations help to bring nonhuman stakeholders and cyclic biological events to the design process and directions for future work to further enhance the agency of nonhumans in interaction design.