Category Archives: Perth

Joondanna Community Food Garden

Last week I had the chance to visit the Joondanna Community Food Garden (corner of Stoneham and Wade Streets in Joondanna). Through my role as Coordinator of Growing Communities WA (2008 – 2010), I provided advice and support to the garden during its feasibility and start-up stages, so it was great to finally have a chance to visit to see how the community’s plans have borne fruit (sorry it’s hard to resist a gardening pun!).

The garden is nestled in the middle of a suburban neighbourhood in Perth, surrounded by houses and blocks of units. It has some lovely established native trees onsite that shade a gathering area that can be used for events, as well as allotment gardens and fruit and olive trees.

Here are some snaps from my visit:

A striking community art piece next to clear garden signage makes a good first impression

Allotment garden beds that are leased to community members

Garden art adds personality to the garden

A type of garden edging I haven’t seen before – paving slabs

Social activities and working bees are an important part of sustaining the gardening community and maintaining the garden

Giving some produce away for free is a useful strategy for minimising theft in a garden that’s open to the public at all times

A worm shed onsite = happy vegetables!

Gardeners enjoying a pleasant Saturday afternoon

For more info about community gardens in WA and to find a garden near you visit Community Gardens WA.

For info about the specialist advice and support services that are available to help you at whatever stage you are up to with a community garden – feasibility, start-up, visioning and design, construction and development, ongoing management or partnering with a garden – check out Community Gardens.

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A father’s day visit to Northbridge

My dad is an avid ‘people watcher’. He likes to get out amongst it and soak up the ‘goings on’ of his community. It was only recently that I made the connection between this interest of his and my own interest in helping to create and sustain lively community places through place making. I like getting out amongst it too and helping there to be more in Perth to get out amongst! Could it be that place making is in the genes?

So for father’s day this year I decided to pass over the standard presents of socks, chocolates and wine; wanting instead to share with my dad some time out in our local community, exploring together some recent place making developments and (hopefully) getting a bit of a dose of cultural vitality. I chose Northbridge for our Sunday afternoon place making adventure. It was to be a bit of test really: would there be enough going on to keep us amused on a father-daughter date?

Well, we wondered down William Street through Chinatown, ran our eye over the construction of the State Theatre building, peeked in the window of The Bird bar and sampled a little rocket and lettuce from the Perth Cultural Centre’s Urban Orchard. My dad passed on the options of checking out an exhibition at the Art Gallery of WA, the ‘A Day in Pompeii’ exhibition at the WA Museum, browsing in the State Library bookshop or attending a contemporary theatre performance at PICA that were all on offer. He also wasn’t quite game for a traditional chinese massage from my favourite masseuse on James Street. Instead we wandered down to the Northbridge Piazza to soak up the dying moments of a footy final showing there on the big screen. (Did you know you there’s a daily TV guide to what’s screening that you can check online? You can also find Northbridge Piazza on facebook.)

Northbridge Piazza, place making

Watching the footy at Northbridge Piazza

Northbridge Piazza, place making

A relaxed Sunday feel at the Piazza

From a place making perspective, there were some positives to be seen at the Piazza. Community places thrive on having activities and uses to pull people in. It’s evident that the footy final screening had attracted a range people to the space – groups of friends, couples, families, people who’d come prepared for the event and others who’d obviously just ‘stumbled on the fun’. The cafe is also working as a drawcard for people. Now, imagine if there were another 5 activities on offer in the space – an interesting artwork that kids could play on, some board games that you could rent from the cafe, free wireless internet, a roving street performer, or a long table lunch served up by Valentino’s Restaurant across the road perhaps?  Additional activities and uses would help to attract more people to stop by and stay awhile at the Piazza and these people in turn would attract others who just want to soak up the vibe of a buzzing place. I’m hopeful that we’ll see more and more activities and uses layered onto this space in the coming months.

Northbridge Piazza, place making

Another father-daughter date perhaps?

And so the final verdict on our father’s day visit to Northbridge? Whilst my dad and I certainly weren’t overwhelmed by the life and activity on the streets, I was pleased to find there were a variety of activities on offer and enough to keep us happy on our sunny Sunday afternoon sojourn. Things are getting better in Northbridge – why don’t you explore for yourself sometime soon and write a comment letting me know your thoughts on current place making developments in the area.

Place making for reconciliation

Are you interested in Reconciliation? Do you live or work in the Town of Vincent?

If you answered yes, then you’re invited to be part of the Reconciliation Place project at Banks Reserve in East Perth, next to the Derbaal Yerrigan (Swan River). The project aims to further develop Banks Reserve as a place of reconciliation for the Town of Vincent community, through bringing people of all backgrounds together to create community artwork that will promote reconciliation between Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal people and enhance the existing features and community uses of Banks Reserve.

The project kicked off with a very special Reconciliation Ceremony held during National Reconciliation Week in May.

The next step is a community workshop to develop a vision of how reconciliation can be celebrated in the park. Full details of the upcoming workshop are here.

Banks Reserve Reconciliation Ceremony 29 May

Come and celebrate the growth of community gardens in WA

We are hosting a final Growing Communities WA sundowner to celebrate all of the exciting developments that have happened for community gardens since the project began in July 2008.

See full event details here Growing Communities WA Final Event.

June gardening workshop at the Lockridge Community Garden

the twister game experiment

I have a lot of questions ticking around in my mind at the moment related to my place making work in Perth, including:

  • How do the people of Perth relate to the city’s public spaces?
  • What sort of relationship with public space does our ‘Perth culture’ sanction?
  • Are we active participants in our public spaces?
  • Do we make our public spaces our own?
  • What behaviours and activities are acceptable (socially sanctioned) in our city’s public spaces?

I want to experiment; to help me answer these questions.

You’re invited to join me in:

twister

Over the next 4 weeks, 4 people will set up and play a game of twister for 1 hour once a week in a selection of public spaces in Perth’s city centre.

  • 1 person spins
  • 2 people play
  • 1 person is the audience for the game and also the observer

We see what happens. And what we can learn to support our work to create lively community places in the city.

If you have a penchant for twister and an hour to spare over lunchtime in the next 4 weeks, drop me an email and be part of the experiment.

What are your thoughts on my questions? Write a comment and let us know what you think.

WA community garden sector’s premier event for 2009

Growing Communities WA (the exciting project I’m lucky enough to be coordinating on a part-time basis) is delighted to be hosting the WA community garden sector’s premier event for 2009:

WA Community Gardens Forum 2009

Find full details here.

Look forward to seeing you there!

What I meant to say on radio (or how small bars and other great places can help solve the world’s problems)

I’ve recently had the opportunity to talk on radio about two of my passions – place making and community gardens. A bit of a radio novice, I’m still getting the hang of identifying what my ‘key messages’ are and making sure I get them out on air. Coming off an interview with Graham Maybury for Radio 6PR’s Nightline show recently, I realised that I didn’t get a chance to say one of the things I really wanted to say about place making. Whilst Graham got me talking about what makes a lively community place and how to improve Perth’s laneways, he didn’t ask, and I neglected to address, what to me is the really pertinent question about place making at the moment i.e. what’s the point?

These days there’s lots of talk about livening up Perth, the need to enhance the waterfront and to get the Cultural Centre cranking as it should. If you’re a place maker like me you’ll be excited by the increasing attention being paid to Perth’s public spaces. However, at some point you might also stop and ask yourself (as I’ve done): in these challenging times of environmental and economic crisis that we’re currently experiencing, should ‘more small bars’ and ‘lively cultural precincts’ really be a priority?

Well, I think we can say a firm yes!

When we’re grappling with environmental issues of the scale of climate change and peak oil and also dealing with economic challenges, it’s clear we need everyone’s best ideas to plot ourselves a course towards a bright future. It’s absolutely critical that we pull together and, for that, we need places that build connections and where innovation and creativity can grow and develop.

In his worldwide study of innovation, Richard Lester from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology identified four conditions for innovation to flourish.* Not surprisingly, one condition is to have talented people with ideas. Crucially, he also identified the necessity of having places for these people to meet, to get together and to share ideas. That’s where lively community places come in. Whether we’re talking about town squares, main streets, community centres or local cafes, the thing that all great public places have in common is that they bring people out of their private worlds and into connection with each other.

When I see people meeting in one of Perth’s new small bars for instance, I don’t just see people sharing a drink. I see people sharing their hopes, their dreams, ideas and aspirations. I see bridges being built between people, creative endeavours sprouting and a healthy engagement in public life. I see good things happening! Good things that will help to secure our future.

So having more small bars in Perth is still important, phew. My new favourite is Mrs Brown, 241 Queen Victoria Street, North Fremantle. See you there soon so we can chat, connect and solve the world’s problems.

Mrs Brown

Mrs Brown

Do you have an experience of how a lively public place strengthens community? If so, post a comment and share it with all of us.

*Thanks to Carol Coletta from CEOs for Cities for drawing my attention to this work during her visit to Perth (hosted by FORM) in 2007.