The Green Lab is a social enterprise. This means we put community, wellbeing and environmental sustainability before profit.

We see our focus and impact in the context of the Living Standards Framework. We aim to contribute to the following wellbeing indicators:

Social capital: Our green spaces enable and promote social connections and community building. Our participatory approach empowers people and enables collective action among groups in society. This approach also supports positive social contacts and the development of support networks.

“[The Green Lab was] an integral part to help with the set-up of Kairos Free Store. They transformed the space to create a sense of community and inclusion. They brought life to an empty space, and in turn have created opportunity for customers to come along, enjoy the space and contribute to the maintenance. I often find volunteers come and help tidy and water the gardens. This in itself has contributed to their belonging and purpose at Kairos. The team were a dream to deal with and so professional. They believed in our kaupapa and helped us achieve the vision of creating an intentional community.” 

Project: Edible landscaping for the Kairos Freestore
Beth Hutt
Kairos Freestore Founder

Natural capital: Our green spaces enable a connection between people and nature within the built environment.  In our materials and design approach, we value environmental stewardship – we reduce, reuse and recycle.

“Working with the Green Lab at the Riverbend Refuge project was really special for us – the young people we work with became more connected with the Ōtākaro awa as part of this project, and got to share their beautiful artwork with the wider community! Seeing the Riverbend Refuge come to life was absolutely fantastic, and a testament to the hard working and creative people at the Green Lab. We would absolutely love to work together again.”

Project: Riverbend Refuge, Christchurch
Bridget White – Working Waters Trust Coordinator

Human capital: Our participatory approach enables skill development and capacity building, and encourages people to participate in society. A wealth of empirical research shows that green environments have a fundamental positive impact on human mental and physical health.

“Volunteering on the building [of Kotahitanga] was a very positive experience… the organisation of the building process was simplified so a novice like me could grasp it and achieve good quality work”

Project: Kotahitanga, Christchurch
– Phillipstown Community

The Green Lab started out as a post-earthquake, volunteer-driven organisation called Greening the Rubble. This is our story;

Greening the Rubble emerged after the 2010 Canterbury earthquakes to green rubble sites with temporary landscaping and planting projects to bring people back into the city and contribute to its rejuvenation. Initially a volunteer-driven, grass roots organisation, we became a Registered Charitable Trust in 2013. The Christchurch City Council came on board early to support the organisation with funding.

While we still do inner city greening projects the nature of our work changed with the city’s evolving needs. We started to create green spaces for residential regenerating communities, with a focus on working with communities to co-create spaces that support strong connections and wellbeing. By including end-users in the creation of the space, we enable capacity building and skill development. Recent examples are Kotahitanga, a gathering space created with the Phillipstown community, and Linwood Tiny Shops, a collaboration with Te Whare Roimata and the Christchurch City Council to create a micro-village of tiny shops and a garden for community use.

In 2019 we rebranded as The Green Lab. As Christchurch evolves beyond an immediate post-earthquake reality, so are we. While our name has changed, our focus remains the same: to create urban green spaces that support strong social connections and wellbeing. We will continue to work with communities to create urban green spaces but you will also see us provide indoor greening products and services for organisations and deliver workshops from our moveable workspace The Green Lab.

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