We all love our parks

They are our common heritage; our shared wealth and they belong to all of us that call Plymouth home. We have a dazzling range of woodlands, parks, squares and waterfronts covering some 1600 hectares – over one third of the city’s land area. As the world changes, the way we think about and care for our parks must also change. With cuts to government spending, a changing climate, loss of biodiversity and growing issues around public health, our parks are more important than ever.

Plymouth is one of eight places in the UK to win a place on the National Trust’s and Heritage Fund’s Future Parks Accelerator. With this opportunity, the Plymouth Green Estates Management Solutions (GEMS) project will explore how we can bring a new way of thinking to supporting and protecting the future of our parks. One strand of the GEMS project – Enrich – will focus on how social enterprise and community business thinking can be used to find positive solutions to sustaining our parks.

Plymouth’s ability to innovate when it comes to doing things differently is nationally recognised.  We are the UK’s first Social Enterprise City. Often described as “businesses for good”, social enterprises trade whilst at the same time helping tackle issues such as public health and the environment. We now have 200 such community businesses, regenerating our neighbourhoods, creating jobs, and providing sporting and cultural activities – even generating local, green electricity.

How can we bring social enterprise thinking to our urban green spaces?

The Enrich programme, Oct 2019 – Jan 2020

The Enrich programme will bring together 40 ‘experts’ over the course of six days to learn, discuss, do and decide together about enterprising approaches to our green spaces and how they are managed. When we say experts, in addition to experts in social enterprise, we mean also experts in Plymouth parks. This includes parks users, residents and communities, as well as council staff. Basically, anyone with any interest of any sort in our parks.

With social enterprise in mind, outcomes of the Enrich programme could include a new set of guidelines and tools for how we manage our parks; changes to longer term uses to parts of our park estate, maybe for food growing or renewables, or possibly increases in short term uses for sporting or cultural activities. It’s a blank page in an open book.

Running from October to January 2020, there will be a time commitment from participants, though we promise it will be a fun and inspiring programme combining ideas workshops, expert seminars, site visits, live project development and social events.

If you are a ‘doer’ and ready to build on shared interests, then please contact Tom Butt at the Real Ideas Organisations, for further information and an application form.

tom.butt@realideas.org | 07815 500 624