Episode 16 | Kimberley Crofts

Episode 16 | Kimberley Crofts

Kimberly Crofts is a humble and inspiring Service Designer, and candidate for a Doctorate carrying out research with a transition project involving a coal-centred community north of Sydney, Australia. She is literally on the coal-face of the climate change conversation.

My very cursory understanding is that the research involves participating in conversations with communities to support a change to the narrative on fossil-fuel dependence.

With this, she amplifies voices for change.

This is a way of bravely challenging the status quo, without imposing, without leading and most importantly without speaking over the top of anyone else.

Some of the references you’ll hear about in this very special episode are listed below.

If you would like to understand more (in relation to climate change in Australia particularly) and access an independent perspective on this topic, take a look at the Climate Council.

Any books mentioned will be available on our Bookshelf, here.

The one single most impactful act you can make (according to Dr David Suzuki) in relation to environmental issues is to invest your super ethically. Here is how I do that.


Who are you, what do you do, and how did you come to do it?

I am Kimberley, currently a PhD candidate at the University of Technology looking at how to increase community involvement in planning for a sustainable future. 

I’ve had a 25 year career in design (started with graphic design, then service design). 

Right now I have taken the opportunity afforded by the pandemic (no more freelance work!) to use the support of a PhD (I got a scholarship) to do some work into supporting communities through sustainable change. 

I can tell you a long story about how this was fuelled by the results of the last federal election, but not sure if we will have time!

How does your area of expertise enrich or make an impact?

Every part of this PhD is directed at making positive, sustainable change in our world. I want to make sure that people are able to envision a sustainable future and then can play a role in shaping that future. My role is to help steward this process. In a way the PhD is about fostering design skills in the community, because design is equally about being able to imagine a different future and working out how to get there. 

Why is it important?

If people cannot see the benefits of sustainable change to themselves, their families, their community then it will be easy to just stay with the current situation. The status quo. We as a planet cannot afford for this to happen. We need to radically change how we live, work, play so that everything we do works within planetary boundaries.

What are some common myths or misunderstandings about your topic?

Firstly, with design, many feel that design is all about making things beautiful, but I think about it more as making plans to make things better. If you think about design as making things better, then it’s easier to think about how I can be a designer of public services as much as I could be a designer of houses, or dresses. A designer is able to think about how something could be better and then make plans on how to get there. Great designers involve the people that you are designing for in the making of these visions and plans.

What are the biggest rewards/results that occur from what you do?

The biggest reward is yet to come, when the work I am doing with a community group helps to convince the government to listen more to what the community wants. The government too often only listens to scientific and technical experts, but the people are local knowledge experts. They need to be involved. 

I am helping a community group in a coal mining area to increase the amount of community involvement in planning for a future post-coal. I have been able to help them design ways to engage the community in this process.

If people were interested in learning more about what you speak on where could they begin?

I am posting on my Medium blog page as I go with interesting bits and pieces I am learning. I am trying not to be too academic here because I want to make sure it is understandable for a wide range of people. I hate that knowledge gets locked away in the academy. 

There are also a couple of YouTubes of me talking about the PhD.

If you want to learn more about the design side of what I have done, you could look at my website www.kimberleycrofts.com

If anyone is interested in learning more about the service design work I did before the PhD began have a look at Meld Studios where I worked for almost ten years. www.meldstudios.com.au

References mentioned

Berkana Two Loops Model
  • Video
  • Post from Cassie Robinson about stewarding loss in public services

Ends book from Joe Macleod

Lines: A brief History. Tim Ingold.

I didn’t mention this book, but highly recommend regarding Indigenous thinking : Sand Talk, Tyson Yunkaporta

Positionality wheel

Lesley Ann Noel asks you to register to download the template. Scroll right down to the bottom of the page for the form. 


​​Joan Tronto and Bernice Fisher define care as “everything that we do to maintain, continue, and repair our world so that we can live in it as well as possible. That world includes our bodies, ourselves, and our environment” (Tronto, 1993).

Tronto, J. (1993). Moral boundaries: A political argument for an ethic of care. Routledge.


alena turley | creator, educator, martial artist
alena turley | creator, educator, martial artist

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