I love being a staff writer for 3BL Media/Justmeans on topics - Social Innovation, Social Enterprise and Social Entrepreneurs. When I am not writing for 3BL Media/Justmeans, I wear my other hat as owner of Serendipity PR. Over the years I have worked with high-profile, big, powerful brands and organisations within the public, not-for-profit and corporate sectors; and won awards from my industry....
Social Innovation: The Royal Parks Foundation, London's Green Heroes
This is a wonderful story of social innovation that belongs to the Royal Parks Foundation, a charity that looks after London's eight amazing Royal Parks to ensure that everyone enjoys them now, and in the future. The eight Royal Parks are: Bushy Park, The Green Park, Greenwich Park, Hyde Park, Kensington Gardens, The Regent's Park (with Primrose Hill), Richmond Park and St James's Park. This is a total of 5,000 acres that is carefully conserved urban parkland, home to hundreds of thousands of trees, plants and wildlife, plus numerous historic monuments and more than 37 million visitors each year.
The Foundation receives a government grant and also works hard to raise funds, making the most of every opportunity to create a wide variety of social innovation projects to make The Royal Parks better places for everyone. One such mission was to build a hidden oasis in the heart of Hyde Park, called the Isis Education Centre. It has been designed to uncover the natural world; to discover minibeasts lurking under logs; what lives under the water and explore our senses through touch and smell in the sensory garden.
Another social innovation scheme was the restoration of the Italian Gardens to recapture the glory of the 1860s, when the Gardens were first created as a gift from Prince Albert to his wife Queen Victoria. The 150-year-old Grade II listed ornamental water gardens, near Lancaster Gate in Kensington Gardens, have undergone significant work. The restoration is the final element of the Tiffany-Across the Water, a campaign that focuses on restoring ornamental and drinking fountains across the eight Royal Parks. This particular project in Kensington Gardens was made possible by a $1.25 million grant (£784,000) from the Tiffany & Co. Foundation to the Royal Parks Foundation (USA), a charity established to enable Americans to support the natural history and heritage of London's Royal Parks.
The Royal Parks Foundation (USA) is an independent charity supporting the social innovation work of the Royal Parks Foundation in the U.K. It aims to strengthen and reinforce Anglo-American ties, and the many links that exist between parkland in America and Britain. One of joint projects is London's Grosvenor Square, where the U.S. Embassy is located. It is now has a memorial garden dedicated to those who lost their lives in the terrorist attacks on 11 September 2001. The garden features British and American plant species, planted side-by-side. There is also a wooden pavilion where the names of all the UK citizens who lost their lives are listed.
Everything the Foundation does is designed to help protect and enhance The Royal Parks as they are so integral to London life, Londoners and the history of the country. The natural heritage and beauty of London's Royal Parks has at some time touched many locals and the city without them would be a very different and much less welcoming place. This is a small social innovation organisation and London life owes a lot to these 'green heroes'.
Photo Credit: The Parks Foundation Main Website