Incremental change to transformation

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Mar 22, 2017
by Oscar Tollast
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Incremental change to transformation

Fellows hear case studies of initiatives which have made significant progress in a short space of time Participants from Session 574 The Child in the City pose for a group photo outside Schloss Leopoldskron [Photo: Ela Grieshaber]

Ideas and words can change the world, but without the right execution, the majority of people will fail to benefit. With that in mind, participants at Salzburg Global’s session The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play have received insight into how they can leap from incremental change to transformation.

To help them, participants have heard several case studies taking place in different areas around the world.

Reimagining the Civic Commons is a U.S. initiative supporting placed-based efforts to catalyze lasting change through the creative use of civic assets. It has involved engagement at all levels and has encouraged prototyping. Storytelling is important to its core. Participating cities such as Chicago and Detroit can learn from one another.

How Housing Matters is an online resource which depicts how quality and affordable housing can benefit everyone. It collected the research, refined the message and told the story. It built a bigger boat to bring more people on board.

In 1965, the idea of a Garden City was put forward in Singapore - not a concrete jungle but a place where people wanted to live. People now talk about the “city in the garden.” The first transformation involved reframing the issue. The second concerned housing. The third change involved connected parks. After being expelled from Malaysia in 1965, Singapore survived by transforming itself. To survive, participants heard you need the best resources and best investment.

There is a campaign in the U.K. to make London the first National Park City. The campaign draws on principles visible in national parks but ties them to an urban environment. The campaign has used maps, data, and voices from those in London. It has gained traction through local councilors and is reaching the decision-makers. In two years, it could be a reality.

The Urban Land Institute’s primary audience is the private sector. Materials, messages, and activities are geared toward them. The private sector can fund parks and enhancements and become a powerful ally. Projects like Complete Streets and Vision Zero are based on a core set of shared values, which rely on a coalition of partners. Both started small and scaled upwards. They share the responsibility for action between professionals and individuals.

A speaker said to create a transformation, a list of ingredients is required. This includes setting a goal, having a unique insight, having a value proposition, a theory of change, partners, customization, maintenance, and the ability to learn.

Participants were told to have a bold vision, a coalition of partners, a story to tell, and leverage the evidence.


The Salzburg Global program The Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play is part of the multi-year Parks for the Planet Forum, a series held in partnership with the IUCN and Huffington Foundation. The session is being supported by Parks Canada and Korea National Park. It is being sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation. More information on the session can be found here: www.salzburgglobal.org/go/574 - You can follow all the discussions on Twitter by following the hashtag #SGSparks