Cross-sector project to build community through nature.

Systems Change Collaboration

That was really valuable. We’ve got a strong platform to build on now and the capacity to go forward.

- Lab Participant

Project info

Adelaide National Park City: Nature Lab


With the establishment of the new Adelaide National Park City, Green Adelaide wanted to reach beyond the usual suspects to better involve diverse stakeholders in the newly established Adelaide National Park City.


We designed and ran a 'Collaborative Innovation Lab' asking "how might we better build community through nature in SA?” 

We brought together nine community groups and organisations including two schools, a yoga studio, a local market, a multicultural community group, a youth sport group, a community music hub, a faith-based group, and a community housing provider. 

The lab had five main components: initial recruiting and screening, three workshops to introduce participants and lay the groundwork around connecting to nature and building community, 1:1 mentoring for teams, prototype projects and a closing reflection.

The whole experience wove together capacity building around connecting to nature, building community, and design and innovation.

How was it different from most collaborative projects?

Grounded in expertise and theory
Unlike a normal partnership or shared project, the experience began by giving participants a body of background knowledge. This gave them a shared vocabulary for talking about their own work and ways to generate new ideas.

Coaching and support
Participants had the opportunity to access 1:1 mentoring and support to help clarify their projects and reflect on their learning.

How was it different from most courses?

Building on existing knowledge
We expected that everyone participating in the lab had a history of doing community-based work with existing practical knowledge about what it takes to make that work. The background material was presented in a way that incorporated, validated, and gave new language to their existing expertise. 

Rather than only attend the workshops, teams were encouraged to apply their learning and ideas in real-world projects aiming to build community through nature. This wasn’t possible for all teams, but the ones who did found it highly valuable.

How was it different from most professional development activities

Learning from each other
In order to make the most use of existing knowledge, space for breakout groups allowed participants to meet and learn from each other and build new relationships for future collaborations.

Building ongoing capacity
Because participants all had existing work practices with existing communities, success was not just a one-off project but rather changes to the ongoing practice of the team or organisation.


The participants thoroughly enjoyed the process and got a lot out of the workshops, engaging with people from other sectors, and trying out new ideas.

Participants said things like "The option to really use nature as the vehicle for connection was a great way into building that community," "It really has started a whole program for us," and "We’ve got a strong platform to build on now and the capacity to go forward.”

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