Ciara Shannon's Blog

Ciara loves following the 'rubik cube' nature of sustainability (social, economic and environmental) as it twists and turns the world. Ciara is the Founding Director of Eden Ventures that specialises in sustainability/ climate change issues and has been working under Planet Eden a registered society to bring to Hong Kong an environmental edu-inspiring park. Prior to setting up Eden Ventures, Ciara initiated and ran the Climate Change Business Forum (CCBF) for the Business Environment Council (BEC). Ciara has been a sustainability professional since 2000 and is Hong Kong born.

City Grass Challenge

(In addition to the lucky birds)
August 24, 2012

I loved watching Wimbledon, the Jubilee (when it wasn't raining) and the Olympics for many reasons, but also to see people sitting on the grass - hanging out with friends, being part of and soaking up the fun.
Here's a challenge...when did you last see anyone in Hong Kong sit on the grass?!
As ridiculous as it sounds it's true. Hong Kong's city grass is roped off with plenty of signage saying to not walk on it (never mind sit or lie on it); leaving instead our wee bits of city green, for the lucky magpie robins to hop around and enjoy.
Yes, plans are afoot by the MTR Corporation West Kowloon’s Express Rail terminus for a three-hectare park. Then if we consider the West Kowloon Cultural District 19 hectare City Park scheme with over 5,000 trees - West Kowloon's park (if you can get there) has the potential for us to just laze or idle the day under a tree.
All positive perhaps.
Any successful park space (according the world renowned Project for Public Spaces) has to be a lively space and a place where people want to be, are allowed to enjoy and can easily get to; with at least ten distinct destinations within the park that will build off each other and create a vibrant destination. They call this idea the Power of Ten. Another thing that makes a successful park is how it is managed. Central Park in New York as an example is managed by the Central Park Conservancy. The Conservancy is responsible for day-to-day maintenance of the park; establishes a wide range of activities, events and educational programs throughout the park, and has an extensive volunteer program.
In my mind, what's missing from all the West Kowloon proposed schemes or indeed anywhere in Hong Kong is a eco-destination that is specifically dedicated to celebrating the rich cultural and artistic value of the environment and what it brings to our lives. If we look to the Eden Project in Cornwall (UK) it is far more than its iconic greenhouse biomes and its planted landscapes; it is a place that successfully encourages people to think differently about the environment and it is a hot bed of the eco-possible. It also a place that works with artists and musicians to keep people entertained and enthused by its environmental message. The Eden Project understands that “saving the planet” must come from collective, joined-up action rather than a series of individual actions and one brilliant way to ‘rally the collective’ is to inspire people through creativity and hands-on mucking in and doing.
These days as the angry red clock of climate change and other environmental problems loom over us, just thinking about the environment can be depressing and all of us have much to learn and do. Hong Kong really needs somewhere as an environmental haven to educate, entertain and immerse us in the realities of today’s environmental problems and solutions, as well providing fun and excitement for the entire family.
It’s a good call especially if it ends up that we still can't sit on zeeee grass.



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