8 October 2019
The Growing Together national tour, completed between May and September 2019, was the latest event series in the 202020 Vision Urban Forestry tour series. The research presented and themes that informed the Growing Together tour were based on some of the insights captured at the Green Light tour. Namely, that the way different communities - developers, government and everyday people - communicate and engage with urban green space, matters.
The content presented in this Tour identified practical ways in which practitioners might better engage with various opportunities as well as invited direct conversations between people who may not have otherwise spoken with each other.
The purpose of this year’s Tour was to:
- Present new community research commissioned by Hort Innovation about community perceptions of green space – you can read more about that research here
- Share practical case studies of both successful and less successful community engagement relating to urban greening from around Australia
- Facilitate positive connections and relationships between people working throughout the green space sectors.
The Growing Together tour 2019 was a great success, and was attended by over 385 urban greening professionals across five states. Please see below for key discussions had and insights revealed in each state's event.
This state's program:
- Facilitated discussion among a range of experts from Planning, the Property Council, and local government to share insights into how this research applies to the local context
- Shared practical case studies that demonstrate best practice thinking and how to overcome obstacles to achieve more green space, presented by representatives from Cool Streets, Wax Design, Democracy Co and AILA SA
- A platform for the launch of the new Healthy Parks & Healthy People campaign by AILA SA, the SA Department for Health and Ageing and the Department for Environment and Water to promote the health benefits of green space
- An interactive session designed to translate the research and learnings from the day into powerful stories that gain better green space outcomes. These stories were pitched to the Hon. Stephan Knoll PM, Minister for Transport, Infrastructure and Local Government and Minister for Planning who provided very constructive feedback.
Key discussion points and insights:
- Adelaide has a unique context in that population growth is incredibly slow across the board and has an ageing population who want to live in more urban areas so that they can access services
- Good community engagement results in more green space
- Developers and the property industry need to play an active role in this, and made more aware of the financial benefits of doing so
- Influencing good green space outcomes depends on clear and effective communication that goes beyond ‘Town Hall’ meetings and the usual suspects
- Communities can be your best advocates for more green space provided they are equipped with the tools to better tell the story
- Given the current planning reforms in Adelaide, there is a sense of urgency in terms of getting these stories out among the broader community so that green space remains a planning priority in practice
This state's program:
- Facilitated discussion among a range of experts, including an economist from the Grattan Institute; the Deputy Secretary of the Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning; an indigenous researcher from the Clean Air Urban Landscape Hub; and a futurist who specialises in strategic thinking for future trends and challenges
- Acknowledged that the research results did not mention engagement with indigenous people and narratives, and this was addressed as part of the panel discussion as a risk but also an opportunity
- Shared practical case studies that demonstrate best practice thinking and how to overcome obstacles to achieve more green space, including an urban renewal project in suburban Melbourne; a street tree community consultation project; the power of green space data monitoring and analysis; and alternate models of democratic community engagement
- Included an interactive session designed to translate the research and learnings from the day into powerful stories that gain better green space outcomes. These stories were pitched to the Ian Shears, (the then) Practice Lead of Urban Ecology and Green Infrastructure at the City of Melbourne who provided very constructive feedback.
Key discussions points and insights:
- ‘Community’ is not a homogenous group, therefore being thoughtful about using language which is inclusive is key to engaging diverse groups, stakeholders and community members in urban greening projects
- A conversation that polarises people into ‘yes’ or ‘no’ camps, is not at all productive and instead creates division and mistrust, good community engagement surrounding urban green space is about finding points of commonality and positive shared experiences - when this language is used people end up prioritising urban greening
- To be sustainable and successful in the long term, urban greening projects need to both suits the particular needs of, and add value to the specific space in which they are implemented
- There needs to be better integration between the conversation around the need for more and better urban green space, and conversations around essential urban infrastructure and the cost-benefits of a green city.
- Facilitated discussion among a range of experts, including the Executive Director of the Property Council WA, the Mayor of the City of Bayswater, the Director of Urban Design at the Metropolitan Redevelopment Authority and Noongar elder Dr Richard Walley OAM
- Shared practical case studies that demonstrate best practice thinking and how to overcome obstacles to achieve more green space, including a recent seaside project from Lendlease; insights on engagement campaigns from the City of Stirling and Murdoch University; and a model of explaining water sensitive urban design from Urbaqua
- Included an interactive session designed to translate the research and learnings from the day into powerful stories that gain better green space outcomes. These stories were pitched to David Caddy, the Chairman of the Western Australian Planning Commission.
- Green space and trees provide a really important public service to the community by providing a sense of place and create a sanctuary for people in the urban environment
- There are clear parallels between the WA Property Council’s What Perth Wants report and the Growing Together research that places high priority on urban green space as an indicator for liveability
- Planners should endeavour to strive for balance between creating spaces that do this well for the community, while also taking into consideration indigenous principles of caring for country
- Indigenous input can also open the way for new green space stories to be told through integrating Aboriginal storytelling practices into existing narratives
- There is a lot of jargon when it comes to water sensitive urban design and much of the research presented by Shelly Shepard on behalf of Water Sensitive Cities confirmed the findings of the 20V research
- Practitioners can assist the community in overcoming comprehension barriers to green space projects and plans by critically analysing commonly used jargon (e.g. water sensitive urban design) and reframing these issues using language that the community can understand as well as capture the desired outcomes of the project (e.g. cool cities).
New South Wales
- Facilitated discussion among a range of high-profile experts, including the Executive Director of the Property Council NSW; a journalist from the Sydney Morning Herald; the Deputy Secretary of Place Design and Public Spaces at the NSW Department of Planning; and the Environment Commissioner at the Greater Sydney Commission
- Shared practical case studies that demonstrate best practice thinking and how to overcome obstacles to achieve more green space, including an inner-city indigenous rooftop garden; Melbourne’s “Green Your Laneway” project; the China-Australia Millennial Project; and the St Mary’s Street Tree program from Western Sydney
- Provided an overview and update of recent exciting research projects related to green infrastructure, including the Centre for Smart Green Cities’ “Which Plant Where” project; urban heat and green cover research from the Department of Planning, Industry and Environment; and green canopy and mental health research from the University of Wollongong.
Insights and themes that emerged included:
- Urban heat is now on the State Government’s risk register which means that over time, it’s expected that planning legislation will increasingly need to address this
- Awareness that people who inhabit buildings and communities where buildings that get hotter than 50 degrees in summer will need to play a key role in how this will be managed
- Urban forestry strategies that work tend to have the following attributes; the council leading by example and greening their own assets and land, develop and maintain private sector partnerships, undertake targeted advocacy and also provide effective regulation
- Increasingly sensor technology and data will play an important role in terms of not only identifying where green space is needed, but also the benefits such as cooling and air quality as well as tree health and soil moisture to determine more effective irrigation and maintenance schedules
- ‘Pilot Projects’ like the laneway greening in Melbourne, are very effective in overcoming bureaucratic silos such as those that exist between tree teams and engineers
- Facilitated discussion among a range of experts, including the Executive Director for Policy and Statutory Planning, Department of State Development, Manufacturing, Infrastructure and Planning., QLD Government; Director of Industry and Community Engagement at the School of Public Health at QUT; National President of the AILA; Head of Community Engagement at Mosaic Property Group
- Shared practical case studies that demonstrate best practice thinking and how to overcome obstacles to achieve more green space, including the Sunshine Coast Council’s Street Tree Master Plan; the Woodlea Connect project out of QUT; Water Wise Street Tree activations from Healthy Land and Water; and the Green the Streets project.
- Provided the opportunity to hear about the best and worst community engagement practices for indigenous communities from Alex Bond from the Aboriginal Environments Research Centre at the University of Queensland; and new research from Dr Lyndal Plant regarding community demand and preference for and against urban trees.
Notable insight that emerged were:
- The planning system in Queensland means that often residential communities only become aware that a development is happening in their neighbourhoods when trees and buildings are being removed, from a Developers perspective this leads to problematic and costly outcomes and there seems to be a push from the developer sector to do a better job of informing and engaging with the community
- There is a range of very interesting community-led greening projects in Queensland that are very inspiring, this work was highlighted by Catherine Simpson from Roberts Day who also presented some excellent future scenario images - which are effectively adverts for plants and trees being prioritised in the public domain
- Health and particularly skin cancer avoidance is a very compelling framework for arguing for more and better greenspace in Queensland and is something that the 202020 Vision will continue to explore in future
- Urban areas in Queensland are very vast and incredibly different in terms of local contexts, capacities and common practices. Unlike in other States, the City of Brisbane control an incredibly large amount of urban land which significantly influences both the market, but also state government planning policies - the Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast are also significant urban areas.
The 2019 Growing Together tour was a great success in each state, drawing a consistent number of attendees from a diverse cross-section of urban greening professions and organisations. It showcased real-life examples of how to engage local communities in greening from a broad variety of 202020 Vision partners including state and local governments, urban designers, community advocates and development sector representatives.
Across all of the states, it was noted that the greatest challenge is to ensure that there are systems and policies in place to guarantee that while urban areas become more densely populated that trees, plants, turf and the allocation of open space for parks and field is prioritised.
Additionally, research presented during the tour highlighted that water scarcity and tree species vulnerability to changing climatic conditions will become significant issues in the coming years. Greener Spaces Better Places will continue to share knowledge and innovative solutions and amplify the latest research in these areas so that green space practitioners are equipped with the tools and resources to address the challenges in coming years.