Greening Marion

Greening Marion is a Systemic Innovation Lab in South Australia focused on addressing greening in the City of Marion.  The lab is a partnership between state and local government - City of Marion and Green Adelaide (Department for Environment and Water). 

Systemic Innovation Lab 

Government of South Australia 
City of Marion

What is Greening Marion?

This pilot project aimed to better understand and strengthen the City of Marion’s ‘greening system’, in order to respond and adapt to climate change and urban infill.

Greening Marion's objectives were to:

  1. Increase understanding of the Oaklands Park, Marion and Park Holme ‘system’ of stakeholders, organisations and initiatives (projects, programs, services, policies and plans) that contribute to greening

  2. Increase capacity for partners, stakeholders and initiatives to work adaptively and cohesively

  3. Support the development of new and adapted initiatives that are relevant to the overall system needs, and which work in cohesion with the rest of the system


The lab's place-based focus is three suburbs in the City of Marion: Park Holme, Oaklands Park and Marion. It has a core team made up of representatives from a number of government agencies, that is lead by Tania MacDonald from Green Adelaide and Rebecca Neumann from City of Marion. This core team is also supported by staff who carried out hands-on aspects of the project. 

​The project partner's included: 

  • Green Adelaide (lead organisation)

  • City of Marion

  • Wicked Lab

  • Water Sensitive SA ​

What was the Greening Marion process?

This pilot project is the first Systemic Innovation Lab in South Australia. The Lab followed the FEMLAS process, a Systemic Innovation Lab methodology that has developed by Wicked Lab. This process includes six stages;  Form, Explore, Map, Learn, Address and Share. 

The FEMLAS process supported the lab's core team to: 

  • map the solution ecosystem of initiatives and organisations working on greening in Park Holme, Oaklands Park and Marion

  • develop a 'cross walk' that translated Wicked Lab's nine Focus Areas into language relatable to greening and the City of Marion community 

  • interview initiative owners to understand how their work in contributing to systems change across these nine Focus Areas

  • use Wicked Lab’s online Tool for Systemic Change to identify opportunities to strengthen initiatives working on greening

  • deliver a number of large group workshops that engaged stakeholders in a co-design process to strengthen the 'greening system' in the City of Marion


​The core team, including support staff, undertook both Wicked Lab's Complex Systems Leadership Program and Systemic Innovation Lab elective. This built the knowledge and skills of the team to take a complexity-informed approach to leading systemic change for greening. 

What insights did the Lab uncover? 

The lab used Wicked Lab's Tool for Systemic Change to map 56 activities and 43 organisations from across Adelaide that are part of Oaklands Park, Marion and Park Holme’s ‘greening system’. This included interviewing 39 people from across a diverse range of stakeholders working on greening initiatives in these suburbs. 

Key insights from the lab to date are:

  • 81% of activities are ‘shaking things up’ (Focus Area 1) around urban greening, where they are generating passion, creating community conversations and preparing for action 

  • Most of the activities (89%) related to greening in public areas, compared to 57% that impacted or influenced privately owned areas, such as people’s yards


The lab held large group workshops. To further strengthen the greening system, the lab focused these workshops on three areas; 

  • Join up and ripple out – experiment, collaborate, encourage open discussions, and connect with different views 

  • Self-organise and share – more branding, role models, and sharing information and resources 

  • Connect community with government – align priorities, shape policies, and tap into community know-how and initiatives

What's next for Greening Marion? 

During the workshops, many participants expressed that they would like to continue to connect and collaborate on greening initiatives in the Park Holme, Oaklands Park and Marion area. The lab now runs an ongoing ‘Connect Up’ event, a space to share what greening initiatives are being worked on, and a place to bring people together to collaborate on creating greener, more sustainable suburbs.

Addressing Greening Marion recommendations

Recommendations made in the Greening Marion final report included the need to ‘Undertake a mapping process with stakeholders to collectively identify causal factors, existing initiatives that address those factors, and gaps in effort’ and ‘Support initiatives to deliver outcomes and provide system functionality at the same time’ (Green Adelaide, 2021a, p. 54). It was recognised in the final report that ‘Wicked Lab has developed a Challenge Lab methodology to do this’ and the Challenge Lab methodology was included as an Appendix in the final report (Green Adelaide, 2021a, p. 54).

Reports

Greening Marion's Final Report can be found here