The Adelaide Statement – Embrace Innovation

  • April 03, 2024
Embrace Innovation: Pioneering Sustainable Parks and Leisure
By PLA Advisory members:
Lucilla Marshall supported by Dr. John Tower and Stephanie McCallum

The Adelaide Statement, a platform born from the collaborative efforts of Parks & Leisure Australia (PLA), Green Adelaide and World Urban Parks, resonates with the heartbeat of our cities. Among its guiding principles, “Embrace Innovation” stands tall—a beacon illuminating our profession toward vibrant, inclusive, and sustainable urban spaces.

  1. Defining Innovation

Innovation transcends more than technological leaps. It encourages future thinking, tests ideas, challenges norms, and reimagines the familiar. For parks and leisure, it’s about going beyond the obvious – fostering creativity, adaptability, and resilience.

  1. The Why Behind Innovation

Why should we embrace innovation? Because static parks are likely to become stagnant —they decline. Innovation breathes life into our places and spaces, infusing them with purpose:

  • Enhanced Experiences: Imagine a park where interactive sculptures respond to touch, where QR codes unlock hidden stories, and where virtual tours connect us to distant ecosystems.
  • Sustainability: Innovations in energy-efficient lighting, rainwater harvesting, and native plant landscaping reduce our ecological footprint.
  • Inclusivity: From sensory gardens for neurodiverse visitors to multilingual signage, innovation ensures everyone feels welcome.
  1. The opportunity of Approaches

Let’s explore the kaleidoscope of innovative approaches:

  • Technological Marvels: Smart irrigation systems that adjust based on weather data, solar-powered charging stations, and virtual reality apps guiding us to move.
  • Design Transformation: Curved benches that invite conversation, kinetic sculptures that sway with the breeze, and green roofs that double as community gathering spots.
  • Programmatic opportunities: Pop-up outdoor cinemas, sunrise tai chi sessions, and community-led art installations—these are the spells that enchant our parks.
  • Sustainability options: Native plant corridors for pollinators, composting stations, and zero-waste events—our cauldron bubbles with eco-conscious magic.
  • Social Experimentation: Collaborations with schools, intergenerational play areas, and storytelling circles—we weave connections like golden threads.
  1. Challenges and the Pursuit for Solutions

Yet, innovation isn’t always smooth, and we will face challenges

  • Budget Constraints: Our budgets are limited as are our resources. But innovation doesn’t have to be expensive; sometimes, it thrives on imagination.
  • Fear of Change and Failure: There is always a fear factor when considering and moving through change. We must nurture a culture that embraces experimentation and learn from ventures that may not be as successful as we’d hoped.
  1. There are areas of success

Let’s celebrate those who aspire to introduce innovation:

  • The Rooftop Park: A disused parking lot transformed into a lush haven, complete with solar-powered charging stations and a rainwater-fed fountain.
  • The Inclusive Playground: Swings for all abilities, tactile pathways, and sign language guides—where every child finds their magic.
  • The Community Orchard: Abandoned land now bears fruit—literally. Locals tend apple trees, sharing harvests and stories.
  1. The Ongoing task

Let’s pledge to keep our eyes on the horizon. Innovation isn’t a one-time action; it’s a perpetual incantation, a journey of continuous improvement. Let’s continue to push the boundaries and balance imagination and pragmatism, to become extraordinary.

In our role as ideators, managers and keepers of our places and spaces, may innovation be our constant goal—a harmonious blend of progress, compassion, and wonder.