Why Throwing Money at Projects is not Always the Solution

Don’t get me wrong we love Victoria Park in Glasgow, spend a many pleasant hours there and appreciate the new signage. However, upon reading that several thousand £ were spend to bring the community more into the park, things could have been done differently and with higher impact:

1. The over the top light installment in Fossil Grove* is not only presenting a major health issue for everyone who suffers from epilepsy, migraines or other illnesses that are triggered by stroboscopic and overtly bright lights but it probably also took out a significant chunk of the budged.

 2. A badly executed bug collection establishes a ‘sort of’, ‘kinda’, ‘could-have-been’ link to life forms of the prehistoric forest. Engaging one of the museums’ pedagogues or asking a curator from one of Glasgow’s museums would have really helped there. In my experience the people working there are really helpful and friendly—or, for heavens sake, there are three universities in Glasgow one with a high-profile archeology department, make it a PR thing. Corporate comms surely is happy to support such co-operation …

These are only the minor issues I am having with the project—my major problem is this: The aim was to bring the community more into the park, yet none of the community have been involved in this—well besides a vague invitation to come to a meeting, which we unfortunately got too late.

Why have the local Scouts, the schools and kindergarten who regularly use the park—and with this I mean the actual children (with their parents)—not been involve to bring forward ideas of how they would use the park or what they would like to see there? (Including an exhibition of their ideas in the local library etc)

Why has the local Scouts troop not been involved in setting up a fixed installed treasure hunt, plant learning trail or Geocaching?

Why was there no month of community participation during which afternoons of free tea & cookies (and tea + Costco cookies can come cheap, involve the local churches to help you) to bring people along and make them sign up for some volunteering, or even simply collecting ideas for what would make people participate more?

Why did our usually very engaged and involved little Whiteinch Library not have a ‘Victoria Park’ month? They have access to archives, could have involved people, put out information, be a gathering point, offered children afternoons etc.

Not knowing that this project was going on until reading about it in the news paper (and this although the tree tops of the park almost touch our house) makes one point very clear—the aim of involving the community with this funding was not met.

Throwing money at light installations and a mediocre display does not equal community involvement. A simple but nice website or blog can be hosted for free, a Facebook page costs nothing, asking for help from schools, library or local churches can be surprisingly effective.

It never ceases to amaze me that here in the UK a problem seems always attempted to be solved by throwing money at it, whilst in the work environments I grew up in always looked for highest impact with lowest costs.

This project could have been a successful act for community involvement and education and I am sad to see that the resources went into a technological overdo that is above all inappropriate and does nothing to enhance the interpretation of Fossil Grove [the only exemption the screen displaying ‘this is how these forests looked’ pictures].

* For the ones of you who do not know Victoria Park hosts a fossilized trees grove, a house was build over it to protect the stone tree trunks from erosion.

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