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Establish a sustainable pathway between the canal and the community.

MA 22/23
Canal, Community, Ecological, Wellbeing

ECO-CO is a natural-based Canal-Community collaborative service system to establish a long-term sustainable pathway between the London Canal Organization and the community.

It connects three target stakeholder groups: Community centres, Residents and the Canal CIC. Positively impacting communities with nature and wellbeing by promoting the engagement of canal activities.

In this project we are really delving into the people, communities, canals and their relationships in the Hoxton area of London to develop canal related activities for residents in the communities surrounding the canal. We are now constantly trying to facilitate pathways to connect the community with canal events and organisations to enable residents to lead healthier lifestyles.


ECO-CO is an agency that connects three target stakeholders: Community centre, residents, and Canal CICs. We collaborated with Centre 151 in the Hoxton area to enhance residents' motivation to interact with the canal and let them engage with the existing activities and reengage with nature. We worked with the centre manager Pierre and Cam Tu Phan to test and improve our service by conducting a series of workshops.

Centre 151 is an independent charity based in the heart of Hackney, promoting culture, arts and community inclusion. It offers a wide range of activities and amenities for the benefit of local and wider communities.


Building the mutual healing between human health and nature resource.

We hope to integrate green prescriptions into the community and help people engage with canal protection. This will not only promote the healing of humans but also facilitate the healing of nature.


Individual unfulfilled needs.

Few activities around the canal, difficult to further interact with the canal.

High life pressure leads to people's unmet needs to interact with nature. Due to the lack of canal activities around Hoxton, people's interaction degree with the canal is limited, resulting in the lack of motivation for residents living nearby to be involved in the canal.

Canal engagement.

Not making full use of canal resources.

The canal organization has limited promotional channels, making it difficult to find collaborating institutions and carry out activities targeting specific community needs. It is challenging to attract more community participants, resulting in low engagement. As a consequence, both canal activities and natural resources cannot be fully utilized.

Community overview.

Lack the connection with the canal and nature.

Most residents mention environmental issues around the canal, while the community centre lacks awareness of canal conservation and how the canal can enhance the well-being of residents. There are no resources to organize nature activities related to the canal, providing an opportunity to introduce canal conservation organizations.


Problem statement

People in the city face high life pressures and have a low frequency of contact with nature, leading to unfulfilled needs to enjoy the nature space. In the Hoxton area, there is a lack of motivation for people to join the canal activities. Community centers lack knowledge of the canal and rarely organize canal-related activities. The high-quality meaningful canal activity lacks effective propaganda way to engage the community residents to join. Leading to the underutilized of existing canal resources.

Mission statement

How might we support and utilize existing local resources, including community, canal, and CIC organizations, and even harness the potential of existing business investment to create a more engaged and healthy community?



  • Enhance the motivation of residents and collect the needs of the community's relationship with the canal by holding personalized Community-Canal workshops. 
  • Support community matching canal organizations to introduce and plan the activities.
  • Hold canal activities and realize long-term collaboration.


  • Short-term: Promote the collaboration between the community center and canal CIC to introduce existing canal conservation activities to the community through a portable service toolkit. Enhance people’s motivation to interact with the canal and let them engage with the existing activities and reengage with nature.
  • Long-term: Establish a long-term sustainable pathway connecting UK canal conservation groups with the community, further enabling people's healthier lifestyles towards the mutual healing between individuals and the canal's natural resources.


  • Promote Local resources integration and utilization: Establishing a new collaborative network among residents, communities, and canal conservation organizations to promote the utilization of existing natural resources in the surrounding communities.
  • Create Canal-Community new opportunities: Targeted promotion of canal activities to communities, enhancing residents' awareness and interest in nature conservation. Meanwhile, increasing community participation in activities and enhancing community engagement and cohesion.
  • Optimize Lifestyle: Conducting a new operational model for blue spaces based on green prescribing that encourages a healthier way of life.


Concept Validation.

We interviewed with the founders of the Canal Dream, the centre manager in the Centre 151, the staff member at the Ecology Centre to test and improve the service processes.


We held a Co-create workshop by the canal to test residents' opinions about our service and developed a detailed form and setting for the service toolkit that inhance people’s motivation to get involved in the canal.

MVP Test.

Collaborate with the Centre 151, we conducted the first Community-Canal creative workshop in Hackney as the MVP test.

Evaluating Value.

Canal activities have been held regularly throughout the year at this community center, bringing people into the canal and creating a change in community behavior.

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