5 tips for organizing a perfect event

During the UBC Talks on marine litter we discussed how four of UBC member cities organize their events for cleaning the coasts and beaches of the Baltic Sea. Participants from Rostock, Saint Petersburg, Tallinn and Turku shared their views.

What does it take to organize a perfect campaign and how to involve citizens? Here are 5 tips for organizing the events – even if you’re doing it for the first time!

1. Attract young generation and focus on local communities

Tallinn: Raise the understanding of the marine litter problem among citizens by addressing the young generation from schools and universities. They will share this knowledge within their families and can encourage friends to protect the environment.

Engage local communities and provide help with organizing local events. Even 20 years ago involving people into the cleanup campaigns could be difficult, but now citizens are more aware of the problem and are proactive, they want to organize and join the events, but don’t know how. Here, the municipality can help, involving and directing the initiative.

Turku: Involving student organizations helps with raising the involvement rate and spreading the information about the event. Many student organizations, including the exchange students, joined the cleanup event in Turku. They were interested, because they wanted to do something concrete, – and their active groups in social media helped attracting more participants to the event.

2. Make it small and easily accessible

Rostock: The cleanup campaign organized on the International Coastal Cleanup Day in September 2019 included 12 different cleanup events launched along the river and sea shore in Rostock, attracting altogether 500 people that could take part in the location they preferred. The same approach was taken in January 2020: then, a New Year coastal cleanup campaign focusing on removing firework remnants was done simultaneously at 4 locations.

Turku: In Finland, an event with more than 200 attendees requires emergency planning and contacting local emergency authorities, so, when organizing your first event, you can focus on making it smaller to lessen the bureaucratic burden.

3. Share with friends for the snowball effect

Saint Petersburg: You can publish the news about your event in local newspapers and websites. However, sharing information through the grapevine sometimes can be more effective than official invitations: people discuss the events with their friends, and so the word is spread.

Rostock: Use the snowball system of inviting friends to the event. At the first event in Rostock organizers knew each other and brought to the campaign their friends and their connections.

Keep in mind that if the event is only shared among the friends and their friends, you cannot plan it too much, since you wouldn’t be able to assess how many will attend. Be prepared for anything, from 10 to 1000 participants, with a flexible approach!

4. Make it fun

Rostock: Organize a fun day full of activities. The campaign that attracted 500 participants involved a variety of activities that people could join on 12 locations: paddle boats, stand-up paddle boats with rows, horse carriages for everyone to try. Divers were picking up the trash from the bottom of the river, presentations about the marine litter and the organized campaign run in the arranged informative booth. The ferry was free of charge that day – people could take it to get to the event locations.

Turku: During the Turku Day in the autumn, the cleaning event at Aura River also included divers collecting the litter from the river – it is a good way to attract media and take good promotional photos!

5. Demonstrate the effect

Saint Petersburg: Share the data regarding the collected litter with HELCOM. For the Clean Beach in St. Petersburg, contributing to HELCOM Regional Action Plan on Marine Litter is an important part of the action: in 2019 the monitoring of marine litter was included in both spring and autumn cleanup campaigns, among other, providing the numbers of collected and detected items of litter.

Rostock: Emphasize the results for the people that joined the event, but also for the media. In Rostock, the litter collected at all 12 locations (altogether 2,7 tons) was brought to one place for everyone to see it and be proud of the action taken.

Part of the collected trash can become an art project. A local artist in Rostock has built a whale sculpture, which was then filled with nets, garbage bags and some funny stuff collected from the coast. The art project is a good way of raising awareness of what was done during that day and how vast was the amount of collected litter.

Whale art sculpture

Photo: Matthias Goerres

 

We would like to thank the representatives of the cities for the provided tips: Gennadi Gramberg (Tallinn), Tove Holm (Turku), Rebecca Kain (Rostock), Ivan Serebritsky and Dmirty Krutoy (Saint Petersburg).

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plastic bottle on the shore