This one thing has changed my community organising practice… and other stories

Even though the days haven’t been filled with much sunshine so far this August, we’re trying to bring a bit of light your way with a selection of Summer blogs from our community organising team at Grapevine.

We hope it provides an interesting glimpse behind the scenes of some of our Connecting for Good work, funded by The National Lottery Community Fund to leave a lasting legacy where ordinary people have the power to keep making Coventry better for everyone.

First up we have ‘The Power of the Parklet’ by Melissa Smith. She writes: “You might be asking yourself, what the heck is a parklet?

A trolley containing rolls of faux grass and handmade placards is pulled across Coventry city centre for a Grapevine parklet.
Grapevine parklet in transit!

“Put simply it’s our way of disrupting a space in an eye-catching way. So that we can reach out to a wide range of people while creating awareness about an idea or issue.

Think faux grass, deckchairs, plants, placards and honest conversation on some of the issues we face.

“Our intention is to make it look and feel completely different from a normal conversation.

“Listening is a fundamental aspect of community organising. We listen in a variety of ways – the parklet is one of them.”

Read Melissa’s blog on Medium to learn how listening in this way helps us build relationships and connect with new people, uncovering and understanding issues that people might want to take action on.

two white women in sunglasses smiling for a selfie in front of newly planted wooden planters outside the Herbert Art Gallery & Museum in Coventry. One woman wears a white Coventry Urban Eden t-shirt with green tree logo.
Coventry Urban Eden volunteers.

We’ve been using Medium for a while now, sharing our community organising perspectives and methods on the global platform and building a knowledge bank of the highs, lows and everything in between, week-by-week, recorded by our team of organisers.

Coaching for good

Next, Gemma Musgreaves shares how completing her recent coaching course with MOE Foundation will help her help others to uncover their own answers to the problems they want to address – growing leadership skills and self-trust as they develop their solutions.

“Less feedback from the coach is more time for the coachee to explore their thoughts and reach their own outcomes.

“The power of asking questions… it is such a simple revelation but really, practice it, the results are electric,” writes Gemma.

Coincidentally, it’s also the first anniversary of Coventry Urban Eden – an idea originally seeded at Collaboration Station, a free bi-monthly event run by Gemma and a core team of locals.

Their vision is a greener city centre, raising awareness of the need to appreciate what we have and respect and care for our green spaces for the future. Gemma helps support their progress towards that vision. Here’s a bit about their story so far.

Click here to read Gemma’s blog, ‘This one thing has changed my practice – coaching’.

A white woman with short blonde hair wearing coloured bracelets and smiling broadly while sheltering under an umbrella.
Grapevine community organiser Gemma Musgreaves smiles through the rain at 2022’s Reconnection Tour in Coventry city centre.

Gemma’s next topic to give you food for thought is reflection and how our community organisers use it to help them learn, to better understand team dynamics, to guage success of various tactics and to bring in different perspectives.

Including four prompts to help focus the discussion. Read more here.

Self and collective care

Our fourth and final blog for this series (there are more to discover on Medium), offers some useful insights on self and collective care.

Collective care Gemma experienced during a ‘low’ week included a colleague texting to check in after she was quiet during a meeting, positive feedback on “worthwhile” training she had delivered, plus several fine cups of tea made for her in the office.

Gemma writes: “As a community organiser we talk a lot about self care and collective care but how do we actually do it?

“Some days are harder than others, and this week my energy has been really low.

“What would I say to a community team member in this case? Self care — do what you need to do and take a break.

“Of course, it’s always easier to tell somebody else how to re-energise.”

Grab a cuppa and have a read here.

Two sides of the same coin

Drop into the Connecting for Good blog anytime for more stories of current community initiatives in Coventry, written by the people making them happen.

Follow our work behind the scenes on Medium.

About Connecting for Good in Coventry

Connecting for Good, sparked by Grapevine and local people, is a movement tackling isolation and marginalisation in the city.

We are building constituencies of people focusing on the structural causes, not just solutions. This means identifying communities who want to act and commit to doing so together – moving them from feeling strongly about an issue to taking action.

26 initiatives have been sparked since 2018.

Current examples include improving city centre toilet provision, greening Coventry for the community, shifting power to local people in the ownership of land and reforming the experience of LGBTQ+ sexual abuse survivors through the reporting process and accessing specialised support.

The inaugural Cov Cares Awards 2023 celebrated businesses and organisations putting connection and belonging at the heart of our high streets. The long-term aim is creating a network making Coventry more inclusive, accessible and kind.

In Ball Hill, place based social action is reigniting neighbourhood pride through core teams of locals working across themes of environment, air pollution, business, creativity and community. Including University of Warwick training for ‘citizen scientists’ who can contribute to research, advocate for their community and influence policy so ordinary people get a fairer deal.

For more, visit

Connecting for Good is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and forms part of our Sparking Community and Shifting Power work.