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Written up by: Philipp Jacobius

In 2017, we embarked on an initiative centered around the responsible and sustainable utilization of an isolated forest in rural Romania, located a mere 15-minute drive from a popular winter ski resort. The collaboration brought together a local hotelier, the owner of the forested terrain, and Dziobak Larp Studios (a dynamic live-action role-playing company from Denmark). Our task was to transform this untouched forest plot into an immersive Elven Kingdom. The endeavor enlisted the talents of local artists and craftspeople, employing exclusively natural materials—think ropes, fallen branches, and leaves—to shape an enchanted realm within the forest.

Upon the completion of the construction phase, local community members eagerly answered our casting call for elves inhabiting the kingdom, co-creating a compelling narrative with us. The storyline revolved around displaced elves seeking sanctuary in the forest, revealing themselves only to children whose hearts remained untainted by greed. The children, in turn, became the guardians of the Elven Kingdom, entrusted with the task of restoring harmony to the world. Over the course of several days, the elves immersed themselves in their newfound culture, before welcoming the children into our magical domain. The elves generously shared their ecological wisdom, musical artistry, and even imparted practical skills—teaching the children archery as a metaphorical gesture to stand up for nature.

Throughout the month-long prototype, we drew in hundreds of eager children, operating on a donation-based system, with proceeds shared among our dedicated elven cast. The impact of our project extended beyond the immersive experience itself; it resonated with the community, creating a ripple effect of environmental consciousness. Parents found themselves navigating conversations about recycling and forest conservation prompted by their impassioned children. The Elven Kingdom not only captivated young minds but ignited a genuine passion for environmental responsibility, leaving an indelible mark on the hearts of those who embarked on this enchanting journey with us.

“The most gratifying moments surfaced when agitated parents called to express frustration because their children were fervently advocating for environmental stewardship and forest preservation, inspired by the elves’ story.”

By seamlessly blending storytelling, community engagement, and sustainable practices, we’ve demonstrated how IXD can be a powerful catalyst for positive change, fostering a deeper connection between individuals, their surroundings, and the urgent need for environmental stewardship, in a country that culturally has not had a focus on these topics in the recent past.