Tag Archives: Place Making

Snapshots From the Caring for Country Reconciliation Event

Snapshots from the recent Caring for Country Community Planting Event held as part of the Place of Reconciliation project at Banks Reserve / Warndoolier. You can find this special part of the world on Joel Terrace in East Perth.

The event was hosted by the City of Vincent, with support from the Vincent Reconciliation Group and participation by the Claise Brook Catchment Group.

It was a very chilly morning, but luckily a very heart warming event!

Elders Doolann-Leisha and Walter Eatts preparing to deliver the Welcome to Country, accompanied by Samuel Pilot-Kickett on the didgeridoo

Elders Doolann-Leisha and Walter Eatts preparing to deliver the Welcome to Country, accompanied by Samuel Pilot-Kickett on the didgeridoo

Community members planting out the banks of Walter's Brook

Community members planting out the banks of Walter’s Brook

Community members helping with the final stages of planting

Community members helping with the final stages of planting

Even our youngest community members got involved!

Even our youngest community members got involved!

Enjoying the day

Enjoying the day



Reconciliation Week: Caring for Country Community Planting Event

place of reconciliation

Those of you who have been following this blog for a while might remember that back in May 2012 the people and City of Vincent and Nyungah Elders officially recognised Banks Reserve, a beautiful local riverside park that rests on land known to Whadjuk-Nyungah people as Warndoolier, as a ‘Place of Reconciliation’.

The event was part of a partnership project between the Vincent Reconciliation Group and the City of Vincent. You can read more about the history of the reconciliation project here and here.

Reconciliation Week is rolling around again and this year the City of Vincent is hosting a Community Planting Day to celebrate the completion of one significant element of the ongoing Place of Reconciliation project – the restoration of Walter’s Brook.

Community members are invited to join in planting 800 plants around Walter’s Brook over two planting sessions, followed by a relaxing BBQ.

See here for full event details and to register to attend.

I’ll be there getting my hands dirty! Would love to see you there too.

A CAN-do approach to community-led place making

Have you ever spent time in a local park in your neighbourhood and thought ‘this place would be so much better if…’?

My colleague at Social Fabric, Emma Slavin, has. And she didn’t stop there. As a member of the Ashfield Community Action Network (AshfieldCAN), Emma has been leading a project to transform her local park, Gary Blanch Reserve in Ashfield.

Through community discussions, events and workshops, an inspiring concept plan for revamping the park has been developed. The local council, the Town of Bassendean, recently voted unanimously to endorse the concept plan and to support this community-led place making project with funding and resources. Yay!

A big congratulations to Emma and all the members of AshfieldCAN for getting this project off the ground! And well done to the Town of Bassendean for getting behind positive community-driven projects.


Source: Eastern Reporter Newspaper 18 March 2014

Emma will be speaking about the project at the latest Perth Green Drinks event being held this Wednesday as part of Left of Central. I think the event is sold out but for those of you lucky enough to have registered, make sure you come and say hello!

New grant funding for WA community gardens

I want to share some exciting news!

Today the WA Government announced a new Community Gardens Grants Program. $400,000 is available over four years to assist with the establishment or development of community gardens in WA.

I took a welcome break from my office this afternoon to join Local Government and Community Services Minister Tony Simpson, the Mayor and CEO from the City of Stirling, Department of Local Government and Communities staff, and local community gardeners at the always charming Joondanna Community Garden for the official announcement.

In addition to funding for individual gardens, grants can also go towards activities or initiatives that build the capacity of the WA community garden sector (think networking events, bus tours, training, and so on – like the support provided during the Growing Communities WA project).

Full details and application forms can be found on the Department of Local Government and Communities’ website. The closing date for applications for the 2014 round of funding is 5pm Thursday 27 February 2014.

Social Fabric provides specialist advice and support services to new and established community gardens and their partners. If you’d like to know more check out the Community Gardens page or get in touch with me.

CF Funding launch

Today’s launch event for the new grants program, at Joondanna Community Garden

How magic happens in public spaces

It’s a sunny winter’s day back in July of this year. I’m on a family road trip through Victoria and we’ve stopped at a roadside rest area off the Princes Highway between Colac and Melbourne. My one year old niece needs a feed, so my partner and I get out of the ‘people mover’ to stretch our legs while we wait.

There’s a picnic table, a toilet block, and a big wide empty expanse of bitumen carpark. Our gang are the only one’s here. We wander a little, we explore, and then I ask my partner to dance.

We waltz in the carpark. We practice some swing dancing turns on the bitumen. We get the timing wrong. We laugh. We try a few lifts. We’re at a rest area, in the middle of no place much, and yet there’s magic in the air…

Then my sister calls out that they’re ready to go and we’re on the road again.

As we continue on our journey, I reflect on how magic happens in public spaces*. How a roadside rest stop becomes a stage set for dancing and a place where lasting memories are made.

Three ingredients I noticed were present in this instance:

1. Quality design details 

Whoever is in charge of roadside amenities on this patch of highway in Victoria is doing a good job. The picnic table and toilet block were made of interesting and quality materials and were attractive and inviting (no photos to share unfortunately!). Whilst I’d be the first person to tell you that design is definitely not the ‘be all and end all’ of making places great, I agree with Project for Public Spaces when they say: “good details tantalise – they send a signal that someone took the time and energy to design amenities that welcome, intrigue, or help”. Beauty inspires beautiful acts.

2. Imaginative connections

In October 2012 I visited the thought-provoking Postcards for Perth exhibition by Robyn Creagh, PhD Candidate and Associate Lecturer in the School of Built Environment at Curtin University. Robyn’s work explored how personal memories of place shape our urban experience. She invited us to notice how the imaginative connections we make between places we’ve experienced in the past and those we’re enjoying today can actually shape our experience of our current places.

At the roadside rest area I found my imagination transporting me back to another time and place. The physical qualities of the location and the experience of being on a roadtrip reminded me of another roadside stop I made on a trip across the Nullabor with friends in my early 20s. That time my friends and I stopped by the side of the road and held a brief but fun ‘Nullabor Disco’ – filming our disco dancing moves to the soundtrack of Disco Inferno. The imaginative connection I made with that past experience of a ‘similar’ place helped to get my feet dancing again over 10 years later!

3. A playful attitude to public space

We can choose how we engage with and make use of our public spaces.

PPS talk about “the tendency of people (particularly in the developed world) to see regulations where they don’t exist. After decades of society turning its back on public life in favor of the private realm of home, office, and car, a lot of people now feel that they need permission to use public spaces the way they’d like to“. One of my roles as a place maker is to help people to ‘see’ public spaces differently, to expand their ideas about what they can use public spaces for and what the potential of our shared spaces can be. It’s my job to disrupt and inspire.

The playful attitude I brought with me into the space of the roadside rest area helped me to see an empty car park as a dance floor.

Principle 9 for Making a Great Place - Make It Enchanting

Principle 9 for Making a Great Place – Make It Enchanting

Which public places have you experienced moments of (perhaps unexpected) magic in?
What ingredients do you think are important for making magic in public places?
I’d love to hear your thoughts…

Magic‘ seems to me to be the best word to sum up those moments when our senses are heightened, we feel very alive, connected and open, and experience a sense of wonder in the midst of the everyday.

Place making conference coming to Mandurah

ICTC conference, Mandurah, place making

The popular International Cities, Town Centres & Communities Conference run by the ICTC Society is coming to Mandurah in 2013!

With the theme of ‘Dynamic Cities – Vibrant, Liveable and Innovative’ – the conference program includes keynote speakers, workshops and field trips covering topics like place making, city activation, community engagement, creating liveable neighbourhoods, sustainability and urban environments, and economic development (to name a few!).

I’m excited to be presenting a workshop at the conference on behalf of Social Fabric that will explore how to create distinctive and authentic local places. The workshop aims to provide an opportunity for co-learning on this topic, so I’d love you to come along and share your ideas and experience too!

The conference runs from 16 – 18 October 2013. Check out the full ICTC2013registrationbrochure.

P.S. ICTC Society members pay a reduced rate for registration. Good news is it’s free to become a member so make sure you take advantage of the cheaper registration rate.

P.P.S. For details of other upcoming presentations and workshops see this page.

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.