The citizen engagement process carried out in the city of Palermo, part of the BiodiverCities project, focused on the relationship between the green spaces of the city and their role in education.The process involved school teachers, families and pupils reflecting on the role of green spaces within educational curricula, by understanding what is the impact of learning and growing up with a strong relationship with nature.
The overall objective of BiodiverCities project in the city of Palermo is to bring attention to the role of green infrastructure in educational processes happening in the city, both at the public and at the private level. The goal has been to envision the potential role of public green infrastructure in public educational curricula, and in the educational path of kids growing-up in the city; to gain a greater understanding of the state of art of public green infrastructure in the city; and to envision the necessary steps to reach the goal of integrating green areas and infrastructure in public and private educational paths.
The specific goals have been:
-to bring attention to the knowledge citizens have of public green spaces
-to bring attention to smaller green spaces, hidden in different neighbourhoods and to start conceiving them as ‘green areas’
-To identify the priorities and the steps needed to include green areas in school spaces
-To reflect on the potential of using green areas as learning space
The process encompassed three activities:
1. The first activity has been implemented in April-June 2021. Due
to Covid restriction, the activity was implemented online, using Zoom and Mural. A group of 15 teachers and educators have been involved to reflect, during three workshops, on the role that green infrastructure should have in public education system. The third workshop focused on the co-creation of surveys that served to validate the vision of the group, and to involve more actors in the reflection process.
2. The second activity consisted in the dissemination of the surveys amongst citizens, and the harvesting of collective findings. The surveys were shared amongst four different targets: a) school workers (teachers and school personnel); b) families and parents, c) students (aged 7-18) and kids
(aged 3-7). Participants to the first activity lead the dissemination of the survey in their schools and neighbourhoods.
3. The third activity was planned to be an intervention in the garden of a public kindergarten in Palermo. Due to lack of commitment of the municipality the planned activity, was not been implemented. To conclude the BiodiverCities project, a third activity was carried out in collaboration with the Observatory for Early School Leaving of the city of Palermo. The activity consisted into nine urban walks with families and children (part of the Observatory; 150 families in total), where several issues on the relationship with green areas were explored, to understand needs, desires and expectations of this particular target group. The output of this third activity consisted of maps.
When and Where
3. School pupils
4. Families from disadvantaged areas of the city
Due to Covid-19 restrictions and several process barriers encountered, the engagement activities did not produce long-lasting achievements.
The dropping out of the local municipality impacted the process, affecting the participants' motivation.
project activity to ensure the conclusion of the project, independently from authorities involvement. Practical difficulties also affected the implementation phase, as Covid-19 restrictions made it impossible to have meetings in-person for most of 2021 and part of 2022, for most of the activities foreseen. The activities were, therefore, implemented online, and the methodology was adapted to the format.
socio-economic context of a city in the southern periphery of Europe;
- Importance of time continuity and presence in the spaces to successfully accompany the process;
- Education, facilitation and participation. Can there be one without the other?
2. If municipalities are not responsive to the process, it is important to plan in advance what kind of "other" results (beside policy impact) the process might lead to