As a coastal city, Zadar is vulnerable to many climate change effects, but a severe lack of civic engagement in the area has hindered our efforts in dealing with these issues. Our project will empower local citizens and groups in the advocating, networking, and skill-building surrounding the creation and maintenance of public green spaces (PGS). Through this example, we aim to build a network of individuals and organizations with experience and skills to deal with various environmental issues.
City of Zadar, Dalmatia
Climate change is affecting everyone regardless of backgrounds and viewpoints. However, due to lack of opportunities for civic engagement, our community is not equipped with the resilience needed to face this pressing issue. As a result, the city is often stuck with backward and patched up solutions for urban development in the context of climate change. In particular, due to tourism, unawareness, and a lack of foresight in city planning, Zadar is increasingly converted into concrete surfaces. Meanwhile, existing public areas are highly manicured, which could instead be used to create green oases to promote wildlife while providing psychological and social benefits to community members.
- 10+ local schools;
- Students in 5+ university departments;
- 5+ local NGO/action groups working in the following topics: public spaces, environment and sustainability, underprivileged groups, people with disabilities, youth, arts and culture;
- Hundreds of other individual citizens of Zadar.
Through activities aiming at all levels of civic engagement, we will involve citizens in the building of practical skills & knowledge, supporting networks, and capacity to advocate for their stewarding of PGS.
1. Raising interest: Movie screening & public debate to generate discussions on the need of PGS in Zadar -> identify individuals & local groups interested in working on this topic.
2. Preparing the ground:
- Network building activities: Meetings among citizens & local groups to discuss & pool resources & expertise to promote & support PGS.
- Educational & skill-building activities: Form gardening groups working on 3 sites to exchange knowledge & together learn more about ecological ways to build & care for these demo PGS: gather information about local species, design PGS as wildlife habitats, obtain native plant species, plant & maintain plots in the establishment phase.
- Advocacy activities:
+ Workshops for citizens: How to put your idea into practice.
+ Public meetings with city councils about changes in legislation regarding PGS.
3. Supporting citizens in the realization of their ideas: With our financial & advisory support, citizens & local groups will engage others & propose their own PGS projects to the city council, including the location in their neighborhoods, the design & how they will participate in the implementation & maintenance of these PGS.
We expect that by the end, we will have created favorable political conditions, identified resources, support & empowered citizens to take on the stewarding of PGS.
- 3 demonstrate sites (city library, homeless shelter, a local schoolyard) showing how PGS can be used as community space, a place to enrich our experience with nature, & a simple but effective tool to mitigate climate change;
- 5 funded PGS proposals from citizen groups;
- A network of citizens & local groups to deal with climate change issues & A forum to identify & discuss further projects related to nature-based solutions that we can perform as individuals & community;
- City council recognizes providing wildlife habitat as a function of public spaces;
- A guide for citizens about why & how to engage in civic actions.
- Our project provides various opportunities for community members to voice their concerns and discuss ideas in both formal and informal settings: movie screenings with discussion periods, public debates, public meetings with the city councils, network meetings, survey questionnaires, interactive workshops, work parties at demo sites, social media interactions…
- The educational activities help them learn about green spaces & biodiversity in the context of climate change & human well-being.
- The advocacy workshops and guide provide them with concrete ideas about how to actively engage in improving their quality of life.
Željka Jurlina is a sociologist & pedagogist who believes in the power of non-formal education & transformative potential of personal & social development. She was a cofounder of well known non-formal initiatives in Zadar & is now a project associate at Eko-Zadar. Danira Travica is a student of Applied Ecology in Agriculture & a project associate at Eko-Zadar. After living & studying abroad for a couple of years, she came back to her hometown with a new awareness that the best way to preserve nature & implement changes she wishes to see is to act locally. Phanh Nguyen is a biologist & an environmental educator who has been involved in food & gardening projects across the globe. As a recent immigrant, Phanh brings new perspectives & experiences in community building through urban gardening.
Funding requested from Civic Europe
Personnel costs = 24000 EUR
Funding for citizen proposals, garden expenses = 4000 EUR
Educational & skill-building workshops = 2500 EUR
Network meetings, community events = 2000 EUR
Public relations, promotion materials = 2000 EUR
Office expenses = 500 EUR
All feedback is welcome! Do you have any thoughts on how we could do more to engage citizens who lack trust in public institutions in participating in the advocating part? We are also hoping to meet people from other organisations and to broaden our experience.