9 June 2022
GoGreenRoutes goes to Versailles: Explorations in connecting cities closer to nature
At GoGreenRoutes, our partners, cities and stakeholders believe in the power of multidisciplinary and collaborative processes. Recently, GoGreenRoutes partners met together in Versailles to discuss a wide range of topics: co creation, health, biodiversity, research, gender inclusion and diversity, citizens’ voice monitoring, and evaluation measures. Moreover, stakeholders present strategised ways in which we can combine these important issues to create meaningful and lasting impact in the Cultivating Cities where interventions are to take place.
In the beautiful Cultivating City of Versailles (France), partners engaged in interactive dialogues to further inspire and support nature-connectedness in Lahti (Finland), Burgas (Bulgaria), Tallinn (Estonia), Limerick (Ireland), and Umeå (Sweden). Cities were joined by experts from Maynooth University, who coordinate the project and many partners and stakeholders representing over 16 countries. The updates culminated in a visual narrative, created by Sarah O Malley, which showed the work each city had contributed to improving green spaces in their respective areas.
Inspired by these collaborative conversations, GoGreenRoutes is exploring how it can best engage with citizens in creating and shaping co-creative and collaborative processes for nature based solutions. Much success has already been achieved in engaging with citizens in many Cultivating Cities. In Limerick for example, when discussing the progress in revitalising its Castleroy Greenway, the local schools are very pleased already with local work there. Limerick Council claimed that the best complaint they have received to date was that the footway needed to be extended to accommodate the sudden influx of people meeting there to jog, bike and play. Soon there will even be a tree-naming project to ensure that school children become custodians of natural areas.
Similarly in Umeå, a local preschool is brainstorming future designs for their green route, known as Bölevägen. In Tallinn inpsiring work is taking place to "recognise the existing natural and cultural values of Vormsi park’s green area through site-specific green solutions". Burgas is using its interventions to raise environmental awareness and life quality for residents. Ivaylo Trendafilov, Burgas Municipality explains,"This is not just about planting trees, but making the area accessible to citizens for cycling and running. These two territories are part of the co puzzle-small places in the city that we believe if we renovate and connect them as much as possible, will make the whole picture better".
The work of GoGreenRoutes is not possible without the collaboration from citizens and without contributions from city partners. As Franck Remy, Head of the Innovative Projects Unit, City of Versailles noted, “Alone we go faster. Together we go further.” In Versailles, city leaders are collaborating closely with citizens to develop nature based solutions which cater to user needs. Lahti's groundbreaking “health forest” next to the healthcare centre in the Kintterö nature conservation area, serves as another excellent example of the many benefits that are obtained from bridging citizens closer to nature both with physical restoration spots, as well as the inclusion of virtual nature tours.
As these green interventions, known as “Seedbed Interventions” grow and evolve with community input, GoGreenRoutes will work further to keep communities connected and to make sure these outputs further serve them. We are committed to this mission. As programme coordinator Tadhg MacIntyre stated, “We will work hard to connect people to green space using social, digital and psychological innovations.” With upcoming inputs from the Citizens’ Voice monitor and from the newly launched GoGreenRoutes Gender, Inclusion, Diversity Panel, collaboration will be further focused towards serving the needs and priorities of citizens.
As the event closed some took to bikes to discover more of this Ville Nature, while the Irish contingent went to Paris to the Irish Embassy for a visit. After such passionate exchange, GoGreenRoutes partners have emerged from these collaborative dialogues more energised than ever before to tackle challenges and seize windows of opportunity to advocate for greener, more biodiverse and healthy communities.
Image (mixed source, see author line) by "City of Versailles, @maxwellpix, Adriana Duarte,", licensed under for promotion