NATUR I BYEN / “NATURE IN THE CITY”: MAPPING AND FACILITATING A SELF ORGANIZING NETWORK
Broadening urban nature awareness among citizens and creating a network-platform for nature oriented entrepreneurs and organizations.
By increasing network bonds and visibility of urban nature, we stimulated actor-driven motivation to collaborate and develop. This leads to an alternative cluster-formation, inclusive and long-sighted.
Access to nature in the city increases property value, improves well-being of citizens and employees, and strengthen cultural life and social bonds. In spite of this, urban nature remains a second or third priority in urban development, in Copenhagen as in most other cities.
The public institutions and NGO’s in the field lacked the overview of actors in the field and lacked touch with the local innovative potential in for urban nature in Copenhagen. Pioneer entrepreneurs, educators, and change-makers are too isolated, often working on the edge of stress and at the mercy of sponsors. NaTur i Byen (NiB) was created to change this picture, open up visibility, strenghten bonds, and draw contours of the first proto-cluster for urban nature actors.
NiB was established as a partnership project with two primary goals:
1) broadening awareness of urban nature among citizens of Copenhagen, and
2) mapping and growing a self-organizing network of professionals and volunteers engaged in urban nature related activities in the city. The network feeds into the public website http://naturibyen.com, where the broader audience can see activities, events, and articles about urban nature.
From 17 dedicated people showing up at the first network meeting in May, to a network of 560+ members, sharing ideas and practices, inviting each other and developing new concepts, the keywords are dedication and trust. The growth of the network spreads like a mycelium, half over the surface and half beneath it; our role being to cultivate a culture of involving, from the smaller group to the widely branching network. After four months of cultural mapping and network development, there is a burgeoning of connecting between volunteers, small-scale entrepreneurs, researchers, and educators in the network. More than three out of four members are actively sharing knowledge and opening up to new collaboration, strengthening their impact on the role of urban nature in the capital city. We facilitate this process through a network social media platform, a low degree of moderation and positive feedback.
The values of the network focus on hands-on, practical actions in urban nature. This makes face-to-face collaboration and informal relations natural, and relations remain informal and creative, yet action-oriented. We focus on stimulating experience sharing, and letting members be active and responsible. We then concentrate on bridging between innovative actors and decision makers, and on mapping strengths, skills and actions we wouldn’t access through a centralized approach. By the end of the pilot year, the institutional level will be ready to gain experience with process-based innovation, and continue cross-pollinating and spiralling experiences.After two more years, the circle of innovating will have been completed, leading to new public initiatives and new nature-based business innovations, maybe even new urban nature clusters in Copenhagen and other cities.
ORGANISATION OF NATUR I BYEN
The project is carried out by three partners: Agenda 21 Centre Central Copenhagen, Growing Pathways, and Life Exhibitions. NiB received 4.7 million Danish Kroner in funding (632.000€) from the Nordea Foundation in February 2017. Additional financial and in-kind funding (value of app 0,5 M DK) is provided by stakeholders, partners, and minor sponsors.
NiB’s primary associated partners are The University of Copenhagen, The National Museum of Science, The Municipality of Frederiksberg (a city within the Capital), The Municipality of Copenhagen, and the Agenda 21 Centres in CPH W, E, C, & S.