By nature, I’m a reflective person. So I enjoy the end of year/new year period for the opportunity it offers to sit back and take stock of the year that’s been. I’ve been doing just that over the past few weeks and wanted to share some of my community development and place making highlights for 2010 (I got all excited and inspired pulling this list together!).
These are some of the good things that kept me juiced up last year:
1. Developing the new Community Gardens WA website as a virtual hub for the WA community garden sector was a highlight. The site gives people easy access to information, connections and avenues of support for their community gardening initiatives. This should be your first port of call if you want to know about community gardens in WA!
2. After two years of working intensively in the community gardening sector through managing the Growing Communities WA project, I felt grateful to have the chance in 2010 to put some of my learnings about community gardens down on paper in the form of two new resources – Community Gardening Success Factors and Funding Your Community Garden – to help WA gardens grow. These are free to download at Community Gardens WA.
3. Working with the Vincent Reconciliation Group and the Town of Vincent on the Banks Reserve Reconciliation Place project and seeing the positive impact for people of being involved in visioning processes was truly special. The project aims to make a local contribution to fostering reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal Australians by building relationships across cultures around a shared connection with a special place in the Town – Banks Reserve on the banks of the Biliya (also know as Derbarl Yerrigan or you might know it as the Swan River!).
It was particularly touching to receive the following feedback from Noongar elder Doolann-Leisha Eatts who has been closely involved in the development of the project: “I never thought I would see this day come: when people would be gathering together to heal the wounds of our past and present. I really feel hope now – I really feel that my grandchildren and great grandchildren have a future. I really feel that we are being heard and we can walk together”. Wow. This is the reason I do the work I do!
4. In the course of working on a cultural plan for the City of Melville I had the privilege of chatting with a wide range of passionate and skilled community members who are contributing to creating a lively and inclusive arts and cultural scene in the area. I was blown away by the contribution all of these people are making to their local community, on a voluntary basis. And the people I met would just be the tip of the iceberg. Isn’t it awesome what people do to help build strong and vibrant communities?
5. Having a hand in helping Perth City Farm obtain funding to realise their 8-year dream of opening a training cafe on site was a real highlight. The café is generating numerous benefits for City Farm. If you haven’t already, make sure you cycle down there soon to check it out. The food and ambience is ace.
6. I enjoyed some travels within WA and interstate during 2010 and relished the opportunities to discover, explore and connect into local places and pick up some new ideas to add to my place maker toolkit. If you like travel diaries, you can dip into mine here and here.
7. Bringing a little piece of the East St Jetty to Eighth Avenue for the launch of creative maylands during the Maylands Festival was a lot of fun and reinforced for me how effective it is to take standard community engagement tools and give them a ‘flavour’ of the place where I am using them. We chatted to lots of people throughout the day about what they think is special about Maylands and recorded their ideas on colourful fish that gradually filled our ‘river’ to the brim.
8. Building on my work with Growing Communities WA, in 2010 I began offering a new range of development support services for community gardens called How Does Your Garden Grow. This paved the way for me to support an exciting initiative to develop a new community garden in Armadale, under the auspices of a local Indigenous Corporation, that has the potential to bring significant benefits to the local community. Yay!
So, what about you? What community development or place making initiatives got you fired up 2010? I’d love to hear about your highlights for the year and how you plan to build on them in 2011. Let’s have your comments…