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How to manage networks? Lessons from COVID-19

Edited on

25 June 2020
Read time: 3 minutes

Health & Greenspace Action Planning Network had its Phase II Kick-off meeting on June 16-17th. This means that 9 EU cities embark on a 2-year long journey on involving local stakeholders and planning actions together on improving urban greenspaces. Our topics remained the same from greenspace design and management related to mental and physical health, urban heat islands, air pollution, social inclusion but the context changed largely: after finishing Phase I, COVID-19 stroke and created massive crisis all over the world including our partner countries. 

    Physical meetings had to be cancelled, city budgets were cut, however, one thing became clearly noticable: during the times of isolation and stay-at-home measures citizens became more aware than ever about the need for equal access to greenspaces and their enormous value regarding physical and mental health. It is not a coincidence that one of our partner cities, Breda registered more than 100 interested participants to its July 1st ULG meeting.  

    We as a network certainly need to leverage this grown interest in our topic, therefore we have discussed the importance to learn new tools for online facilitation, social media and other channels of communication to spread our news more effectively. During our kick-off meeting the following tips emerged that could be helpful for all planning urban projects and citizen engagement:

    • Link projects together and look for synergies!
    • Use social media and online communication to spread news before, during and after your activities!
    • Offer online broadcasting options for those who are not able to join in person!
    • Find ways and ideas on how to implement action plans - implementing should start during the project (for small-scale actions) Look for other sources of funding!
    • Use various tools for online communication (Basecamp, Slack, Miro, Jamboard, Zoom, Mentimeter, Google Docs, etc.)
    • Learn basic online facilitation methods (frontal teaching just won't cut it online)
    • Explain everything more thorougly as it is easier to misunderstand each other in the online space. (this includes thorough preparation before the meetings, sending detailed agenda and questions before, taking notes during meetings and sending reminders afterwards)

    Let's create healthier greenspaces together! 

    On the photo: Greenspaces surrounding our partners' (home)offices depicting the amazing natural diversity we have in our project