This workshop model has been developed with researchers from Te Pūnaha Matatini

Everyone involved in Te Pūnaha Matatini knows and supports the organisation’s values, central to which are manaakitanga, tika, tapu and pono — Te Reo Māori terms that are explained like this:

Pono is an essential foundation concept which encompasses both truth and genuineness, and which provides the deeper ethics from which tika, doing the right thing, operates. Tapu here refers to ethical behaviour that acknowledges the intrinsic value of each and every person and thing, and behaving according to this principle. Manaakitanga describes not only the way that we care for others, but also demands recognition of mana, of status, and the attendant obligation to return mana in relationships. That is, reciprocity is key.

— Te Pūnaha Matatini values

While developing the laundromat process, we’ve been working with people who are entering the laundromat from this place of genuineness, valuing each other (including their contributions, their research and the people and things it touches, and their perspectives) and reciprocal kindness. This was ‘water to the fish’: essential, but largely invisible. Our pool of participants already shared a similar ethos and that’s an easily overlooked and taken-for-granted bedrock. That’s not to say everyone thought the same thing about what engagement or science communication is or can be — there were plenty of epiphanies and constructive discussions with alternate perspectives — but the values determined the safety of the space, which is essential for a respectful environment. 

The Centre for Science in Society also has a vision that contains words that are pertinent to the laundromat concept. CSiS seeks to:

create an inclusive, critical, intellectually playful, diverse, welcoming, purposeful, and dynamic academic environment   

This emphasis on intellectual playfulness especially struck a chord with me and the CSiS values, like the Te Pūnaha Matatini ones, permeate what we do. Both also sit close to models of inclusive design and inclusive scicomm that I seek to foster. 

Your laundromat's values

We would encourage anyone else thinking of running a laundromat group to think first about the values that will underpin your version of the laundromat, and make that overt when you gather your participants. This might be especially important if the participants don't have the shared starting point that ours had, with their common affiliation with Te Pūnaha Matatini. 

Virtuous cycles

In turn, many of the attributes that we hope to foster in the science communication activities that come out of the laundromat process — inclusivity; reflexivity; thoughtfulness and kindness —  require the participants to believe in the value of these things too, in order for the process to be a ‘virtuous cycle’! 

A hand drawn picture of a cyclical pattern with hearts around it, symbolising a 'virtuous cycle'

We would encourage anyone else thinking of running a laundromat group to think first about the values that will underpin your version of the laundromat and make that overt when you gather your participants.   

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