On a mission for green space

Monday, 27 May, 2019

On a mission for green space

If we want greener, healthier and more livable cities in Australia, councils must connect with community to achieve a common goal, says 202020 Vision, a collaborative initiative of over 400 organisations. In a bid to help, the national initiative is launching the Growing Together Tour to foster collaboration to achieve more green spaces in our cities, with a plan to increase urban green space by 20% by 2020.

The last national tour, attended by over 450 urban greening professionals, found the main barrier to urban greening was strategy implementation. New research from 202020 Vision’s Community Attitudes study has revealed that this barrier can be partly attributed to a lack of support from the community.

The study of over 1600 Australians revealed that while the majority of people (92%) support urban greening, most (72%) don’t know if their local council is actively pursuing the expansion of urban green space in their area. Over half (55%) were unaware of who looks after their local green spaces.

CoDesign Studio CEO Valli Morphett said, “These results suggest councils need to engage more with their communities to explain their role and current activities regarding urban green space to garner their support.”

The study found most people were either indifferent, unwilling or unable to volunteer to maintain urban green spaces (59%) or lobby local government to increase green space (67%).

“There has long been a disconnect between community action and council initiative, despite both groups prioritising green space for broadly the same reasons including aesthetics, recreation, mental and physical health benefits,” Morphett said.

“Community members predominantly value green spaces for how they directly and positively impact their daily lives, in terms of health opportunities for leisure.”

A core issue emerging from the study is that councils and developers have different priorities and aren’t speaking the same language when it comes to green space. In addition, fewer than 25% of those surveyed understood the terms used by councils when they communicate their urban greening plans.

The Growing Together tour will launch a new community engagement kit, aiming to address communication barriers and help councils to implement urban greening strategies that motivate the community. The free, customisable kit includes a 10-step guide to aid meaningful collaboration and change, and a ready-made real-world and digital campaign for councils. The kit includes posters, signs, artwork and advertising assets.

By speaking with residents in a way that resonates with their priorities, and giving them accessible ways to participate in the conversation on green space, councils can achieve meaningful and lasting collaboration.

To learn more about how to create greener, healthier and more livable cities, visit 202020 Vision.

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/2mmedia

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