In October 2015, in the splendid surroundings of the Sir Joseph Banks building at Royal Botanic Kew, Arc was announced winner in the CIRIA Big Biodiversity Challenge; it was a tremendously fun and uplifting occasion, and we were very, very proud to be there!
Our winning category was for ‘Small Scale Permanent’, a title that pretty much defines everything we do. Our advocacy for, and delivery of, small interventions in the public realm, resourcing new developments and fixing old ones, is anchored to a fundamental belief in positive action to connect people and wildlife. The Big Biodiversity Challenge Awards did much more than pat us on the back for this.
CIRIAis a network of significant organisations, leaders in their fields, international practitioners and pioneering research academics; their validation counts. Winning the award has pushed us to take our own ideas further and the publicity and profile our award attracted has helped to build confidence and interest in our clients, partners and funders in a way that would have taken far longer for us to have independently achieved (it has also influenced and encouraged some of our clients who are likely to sign up to the 2016 Challenge themselves!).
We like awards very much, but we like doing useful and interesting things much more, and CIRIA’s Big Biodiversity Challenge encompasses both. Winning a national award for one of our smallest interventions reminds us that good work doesn’t have to wait until it is monumental in scale or in budget, you can do little things, layer them and build them up to accumulate long-term benefits in short-term steps. We’re the lead partner on the Bay Coastal Community team here on the Isle of Wight and this is the only approach possible, rolling out a programme of public projects little by little, as funding and time allows, to a coherent plan but flexible enough to respond to opportunity and serendipity, revitalising community spaces and our visitor economy.
Perhaps the most important thing to come from our experience has been a relationship with CIRIA itself, joining that network, learning from seminars and publications, finding project partners and developing new ideas. So our advice is Have A Go! Put up the stuff that captures what you’re up to and where you’re going, don’t just trawl the archive for off-the-peg ready-mades, use the projects you’re most excited about, the platforms to where you’re heading next. Good luck and maybe, if we get lucky too, we’ll meet you at the next ceremony!