Greener Leith works to promote community engagement, better public spaces and sustainable development in and around Leith. Here’s how we do it.
Making a real difference to Leith’s public spaces:
- We plant bulbs, trees and fruit bushes: We’ve planted more than 120 fruit trees – many of rare varieties at risk of dying out – in Leith’s green spaces. We’ve planted hundreds more trees and bulbs throughout Leith.
- We support community garden projects: We’ve donated tools, materials, plants, advice and volunteer time to a number of local community garden projects.
- We clear up litter: We organise at least three clean-up events in local parks each year. Our volunteers have cleared hundreds of bags of rubbish over this time since 2006.
- We help Leithers get active: We’ve given away 50 recycled bikes, trained 11 local people in accredited bike maintenance and leadership, organised bike rides and walking groups, improved local bike parking facilities, distributed thousands of local travel maps and provided free bike maintenance services to more than 100 local people.
- We support the local economy: 85% of participants in our smart shopping campaigns say they are more likely to shop in local independent businesses because of our work.
Building consensus about the future:
We’ve pioneered the use of free digital tools to make it easier for people to take part in community consultation.
Our approach promotes partnership working and means that we can involve hundreds of Leithers in building a consensus and vision for the future of some of our key public spaces at very low cost:
- The Leith Links Ask – continues to inform priorities for funding in the park.
- Future Travel Plan – supported case for capital investment at The Shore and Leith-Portobello path upgrades.
- Vision for Leith Walk – influencing council decision making on future of street. Our work helped to boost the budget allocated to improving Leith Walk and Constitution Street from £2.3m to £9.1m in 2013.
We get something between 3000 and 5000 unique visitors to our award winning website each month. Tens of thousands of people have viewed our YouTube channel or listened to our audio podcasts that put a local spin on issues such as home energy use, zero waste, geology and even local council hustings.
- 67% of our readers rate our coverage of local news as “effective” or “very effective.”
- 62% say they have attended a community event after reading about it on our website.
- 56% say they have taken part in a consultation after finding out about it on our website.
- 44% said they’ve taken action to improve their neighbourhood after reading our website.
In 2011 The List magazine placed our website 6th in their list of the best 30 Scottish websites.
In 2010, the Greener Leith website was nominated as the top Green/Nature blog in the ScotBlog awards. In the same year, it also won the prize for best local special interest website in the UK at the Talk About Local/Guardian awards.
Protecting our heritage and promoting sustainable development:
We put together innovative behaviour change projects and campaign for better quality local development:
- 7 out of 10 participants in our We Love Leith project said they adopted Greener travel habits as a result of our project. They saved at least 273 tonnes of CO2 by doing this and if we assume these changes are maintained then these savings equate to at least 203 tonnes per year.
- Our active travel work contributed towards an observed 26% annual increase in the numbers of people commuting by bike in North Edinburgh in 2011.
- We helped local residents to save thousands of pounds by cutting their home energy use at the Some Like It Too Hot exhibition.
- We worked in partnership with the council and local businesses to give rewards to people who adopt pro-social behaviours – like binning their litter and clearing up after their dog. We filmed the results and within weeks hundreds more local people were thinking about how we all benefit when people treat their public spaces with respect.
- We played a significant role in galvanising a community campaign against an climate wrecking power plant proposal on Leith docks.
- We inform local residents of significant new planning applications and try to promote better quality development.
Developing Community-Owned Renewable Energy:
- We’re currently working with PEDAL-Portobello to develop a community owned wind energy project.
- We conducted a detailed feasibility study into micro-hydro on the Water of Leith at Redbraes, but concluded that it is probably uneconomic to proceed with the project. However, we published the reports and we’d be keen to hear from anyone who can work out a way to make it worthwhile to build.