Greening Marion pilot

A trial project that helped us work together for greener suburbs

The Greening Marion pilot built the capacity of a local ‘greening system’, to help people work better together for greener, more sustainable suburbs.

The local greening system was made up of people and organisations – and their activities – that contributed towards greening in Marion, Oaklands Park or Park Holme.

This included local and state government, community groups, schools, NGOs and social enterprises, with activities ranging from council policies to a community garden.

What the pilot involved

The pilot began in February 2019, and finished with the culmination of two workshops in June 2020.

During this time we:

  • interviewed 41 people, from 15 different organisations or formalised groups
  • mapped how 56 greening activities supported the overall greening system
  • identified system strengths and opportunities
  • developed written resources and an illustrated video to help explain the thinking behind taking this approach, and results of the mapping
  • held two online workshops.

Two online ‘connect ups’ were held in late 2020, to provide the opportunity for further networking amongst participants.

The pilot was developed based on an approach informed by complexity science, developed by Wicked Lab. Check out the video below for more on complexity science.


What did the pilot tell us?

After mapping the greening system, we learnt what its key strength and opportunities were.

Key strength:

  • Almost all greening activities (89%) were ‘shaking things up’ – for example, by creating passion for action and bringing out different points of views on greening.

Opportunities to improve the way the greening system worked, included seeing more greening activities that:

  • Joined up and rippled out – supported connections and communication. For example, more greening activities that were linked, catered for different views, and supported safe and open discussions. Activities that supported collective action, and helped people to see their place in the greening system.
  • Created identity and combined resources – to encourage the greening system to organise itself. For example, more greening activities that shared information, worked together, built a shared understanding of goals and issues, and encouraged greening role models.
  • Connected community and government – to improve communication between government and the community. For example, more greening activities that helped government (elected representatives and administration staff) to tap into community thinking, be transparent, communicate clearly, support community initiatives that addressed government plans, and made community know-how available for others.

Recommendations from the pilot

There were three key areas of recommendations.

  1. Leverage benefits and learning delivered by the pilot
    Build on the recognition, goodwill and motivation from the pilot, by expanding the Greening Marion brand across the council area, delivering council-wide greening forums, continuing to build local system capability, and providing incentives for more greening activities to:
    • join up and ripple out
    • create identity and combine resources
    • connect community and government.

2. Adapt the model that was trialled – so future system level projects are governed by a diverse, multi-disciplinary and cross-sector team, and involve participants up front in collective visioning and a simplified, rapid-mapping process.

3. Develop sector capacity to work in this space – by role modelling working in this space, supporting future system level projects, and starting a community of practice.

Practitioner’s report on pilot

Executive summary – a five page summary of the pilot project.

Full report – a detailed and technical practitioner’s report on the pilot. It provides an account of the project and its findings, to support others who are interested in taking a similar approach.

The full report includes:

  • purpose of the pilot
  • geographical boundary
  • processes to deliver the pilot
  • results from the system mapping
  • results on how the pilot delivered against its objectives
  • reflections and recommendations.

Pilot outcomes

Outcomes of the pilot project included an improvement in participants’:

  • Understanding of the greening system
  • Awareness of opportunities to strengthen the system (e.g. through enhancing connections, networks, and collaboration).

The workshops supported diverse participants to meet, share ideas and develop new, organic connections, for example between:

  • council projects and community groups
  • a resident and community group
  • school initiatives and Green Adelaide
  • beyond the current stakeholder group and greening system – including internationally.

Actions taken or planned as a direct result of Greening Marion:

  • tree planting days
  • connecting with international schools
  • nominating a local champion for an award
  • developing an information resource for developers
  • sharing residents’ greening stories.

A longer timeframe would be required to measure changes across the greening system.

The pilot project also developed an adapted model that could be used for wicked problems elsewhere (see Appendix 10 of the full report).

What’s happening next?

The pilot stage of Greening Marion has finished. City of Marion and Green Adelaide are using the results and recommendations of the pilot to help inform future programs. Council is continuing to use the Greening Marion brand across all its greening activities, and will continue to support these activities to:

  • join up and ripple out
  • create identity and combine resources
  • connect community and government.

For example, through delivering council-wide greening forums, sharing stories of greening efforts on social media and its Green Thymes enews, continuing to priorities tree planting and urban greening projects on council land, and looking at ways to retain and improve greening of private land.

The City of Marion is continuing to work with Green Adelaide to apply learnings from the pilot into the design of new greening activities, such as through the development of a ‘biodiversity sensitive urban design (BSUD) masterplan for the Sturt River (funded through a Green Adelaide grant).

Find out more

Green Adelaide, email or phone 8463 3733.

City of Marion, keep in touch with what the City of Marion is doing to support Greening Marion, ask to be signed up to the monthly Green Thymes newsletter, email or phone 8375 6624.