Abundant Story Economies: Using distributed ledger technologies to re-imagine community-based heritage work

Denise Thwaites, Baden Pailthorpe

Research output: Contribution to conference (non-published works)Paper


More than ever, the logic of scarcity penetrates cultural institutions charged with custodianship of our shared heritage. Volunteerism has long sustained institutional programs and collections (Trevor, 2013), a practice that is undergoing increased scrutiny and criticism with programs such as Art+Museum Transparency. So how might we re-evaluate and re-configure the abundance of labour that sustains current heritage systems towards more equitable and sustainable futures? What tensions and challenges arise when we use distributed ledger technologies to formalise, otherwise informal cultural economies? Foraged Stories is an arts-based research project developed as part of Haig Park's urban renewal program in Canberra. It prototypes a local, blockchain enabled story economy, exploring methods of unearthing and cultivating seeds of memory, history and desire that circulate through an urban forest. Combining artist-led, community-based workshops, performative archiving and a proof-of-concept decentralized app, Foraged Stories asks: what happens when a local community library is designed to echo the dynamic and cooperative processes of a community garden? Foraged Stories creative research project deploys hybrid-arts methodologies in combination with those from Design Science, wherein knowledge is created through the iterative act of building an artefact in response to an identified problem (Kuechler & Vaishnavi, 2008). In this paper, we present the design and some preliminary findings from the experiment, which builds upon: (i) research from fields of community development (Nutt & Schwartz, 2008), crowd-sourced heritage (Trevor, 2013), digital arts (Catlow, Garrett, Jones & Skinner, 2014) and garden studies (Christie, 2004; McVey, Nash & Stansbie, 2018); and (ii) artistic and activist projects such as Guerilla Media Collective’s DisCo and Ailie Rutherford’s People’s Bank of Govanhill. Through this paper we will highlight the some of the challenges and questions that arose through this transdisciplinary project, opening on to possible next-steps.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages2
Publication statusPublished - 16 Oct 2020
EventExploring Blockchain and the Cultural Sector - University of Manchester and online, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 16 Oct 202017 Oct 2020


ConferenceExploring Blockchain and the Cultural Sector
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom
Internet address


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