Five students of Management of the Living Environment in Velp have been nominated for the Green Impact Award with their project ‘Handboek Prettig Groen Wonen’ (Handbook for Pleasant Green Living). Students Jur Kuijper, Pleun Kievits, Heleen de Lange, Myriam Rault and Louise van Stam have produced a practical handbook for housing associations under the supervision of lecturer Frans van den Goorbergh. The handbook provides guidance for housing associations for working together with residents of a neighbourhood or street to create a pleasant green living environment. The Green Impact Award will be presented on 4 March during an online event with Twan Huys, Carola Schouten and Frans Timmermans.
Housing associations often struggle with the quality of their outdoor spaces. The ‘Pleasant Green Living’ project aims to improve the greenery in the vicinity of social housing. A relatively large number of vulnerable groups live in social housing that would benefit from good quality green spaces. More greenery in the neighbourhood not only helps to mitigate heat, absorb torrential rain and muffle traffic noise, but also offers peace and relaxation. The value of the outdoor space increases when housing associations involve residents in the process and build a base of support. Brainstorming and encouraging participation promotes social cohesion between residents, provides health benefits and creates a safe and pleasant living environment.
The students are proud of the nomination and of their handbook. Pleun Kievits: “I thought it was really nice to see that we were able to get something moving with the residents and with the housing association. We've been able to work very well with everyone involved.” Heleen de Lange adds: “The residents in The Hague even invited us for coffee and were really excited about our project.”
The Handbook for Pleasant Green Living has become a practical guide for housing associations that want to upgrade the outdoor space of a district, street or neighbourhood together with the residents. The students have developed a roadmap that provides an effective and efficient process. The handbook has already been applied in a pilot project with the Staedion housing association in The Hague. Here, residents and the association worked together to redesign courtyard gardens. MBO students from Wellantcollege created designs for the gardens based on the joint wishes. "I found the collaboration with the MBO very valuable”, says Heleen, “I would like to see more educational institutions working together.” The ‘Handbook for Pleasant Green Living’ project was commissioned by Wageningen Environmental Research and Staedion.
For the students, it was an instructive project. For example, they learned that a residents' evening goes like clockwork if you script it well. And they experienced how everyone in a project has their own interests: the housing association, the municipality and the various residents all have different wishes. Pleun: “Such a project shows how things tend to go in society. And now we were the process managers who had to bring all these interests together. In this respect, the project fits in perfectly with our study programme Management of the Living Environment”, says Pleun. “We do our best to represent all interests, we know how to approach residents and engage with them constructively.”
Heleen hopes that housing associations will benefit from their handbook: “I wish people a say in their own garden and an inspiring outdoor space they feel connected to, where they can meet and where there’s a warm sociable vibe.”
The Green Impact Award is awarded for innovative projects, research and startups that impact food, climate, and/or quality of life in some way. Three projects have been nominated in each of the four categories of VMBO, MBO, HBO and WO. The award ceremony will take place on Thursday 4 March during the Jongeren aan zet - live event. Twan Huys will welcome outgoing minister Carola Schouten (Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality) and Frans Timmermans (European Commission) who will enter into discussion with young people. If you want to watch the event, you can register on the GroenPact website.
Are you looking for information on this project or are you interested in the Handbook (only available in Dutch), please send an e-mail to [email protected].