The Bristol Approach Logo

making links,

making tools,

making change


The Bristol Approach Logo

making links, making tools, making change


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Illustration of woman showing a child the Air Quality sensor
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What is the Bristol Approach?

The Bristol Approach is a way of working, along with a set of resources, that enable groups – from councils and businesses, to education and community organisations – to co-design solutions for everyday issues.

The process is people and issue-led, viewing neighbourhoods as places of abundance, where so many resources, skills, and knowledge already exist. Instead of reinventing the wheel, it encourages:

• working together to use what’s already available
• connecting with the right people, to co-create things that address what’s missing
• ensuring that new technologies, tools, and systems work for the common good

It was developed by Knowle West Media Centre alongside Ideas for Change, and Bristol City Council. We believe that all people, whatever their background, should be able to imagine, design,and build the future they want to see – for themselves, others, and their environment.

Many of the tools are open source and collaboratively cared for; the idea of ‘the Commons’ runs throughout and anyone can use the Bristol Approach’s six-step framework, its set of resources, and contribute to how it evolves.

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People using sensors near a bus
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How Does It Work?

The Bristol Approach provides a six-step framework for collaborative working. You can move through all six phases in order, just focus on the steps relevant to your needs, or cycle through the process multiple times to re-examine and improve iteratively.

To aid and support you throughout the six-steps, the Bristol Approach provides a powerful collection of resources that help focus and improve your project at each stage.

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Why Use the Bristol Approach?

The Bristol Approach can support you to work with people to tackle issues you care about and create lasting change whilst avoiding the pitfalls of many ‘top-down’ initiatives.

Projects often start with the testing of technical ‘solutions’ without investing time in thinking about the problem to be addressed. Rather than pushing predetermined ‘tech solutions’ onto people, our focus is to work alongside communities to question and dig deeper into the issues, ensuring peoples’ experiences and voices are listened to, and their needs addressed.

The six-step framework and supporting resources are adaptable and versatile, facilitating positive change not just in Bristol, but across the World, and include a broad spectrum of issues such as air pollution, damp homes, waste, mental health, and more. We’ve collated projects that have used the approach to show how the process can be used and the broad range of applications.

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Person cycling in Bristol
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Get Involved

Do you want to see a change in your city or neighbourhood?

Interested in working with others to create positive change?

Keen to explore the world of sensing, technology and data?

The Bristol Approach could help you.

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