Randwick Eco-Living Fair, 15 September

 

The Fairground

The Fair in full swing

Yesterday I attended the Randwick Eco-Living Fair, a one day event organised by Randwick City Council held at the new Community Centre and surrounding Environmental Park on Munda Street, Randwick.

After a slightly blustery, rainy morning threatened to scare people off the sun appeared and everyone came out in force.  The event was a great way to showcase the council’s new facilities on the large site which include halls, exhibition spaces, playgrounds, large garden area and covered workshop spaces.  These new facilities are located on former Defence Force lands which had been in use since WWI as Randwick Army Barracks.  Parcels began to be redeveloped in the 1990’s with a large area protected as parklands as it functions as a haven for birdlife and some protected species of flora and fauna.    

Randwick Council obviously knows that it is all very well to have whiz-bang new facilities but if no-one actually knows where they are and what they can be used for then there is no point right?  Because I reside at the Clovelly end of Coogee I don’t get down that way often and I was very pleasantly surprised at the renewal and redevelopment that the area has experienced.  New housing in terrace/townhouse style surrounds the centre on Bundock Street and surrounds.

The style and medium density format of the newer development fits well with the existing older housing in the suburb.  There is also some really loving landscape elements (which the picture below doesn’t actually show well) but the inclusion of Australian natives, established trees and shrubs and ground covers made all the difference to my impression of the streetscape.

Modern take on terraced housing in Randwick

Modern take on terraced housing leading down to Randwick Community Centre

Signage to the Centre

Signage to the Centre

Walking In

Walking In

As I chatted to one of the organisers Ben Eadie from October Sun he explained that organising an event like this was like installing a mini semi-permanent city- you need infrastructure, waste, food, power, ATMs, shade, accessibility, first aid and seating as well as entertainment and traffic management.  Hovering above all these needs is of course the need to make the event as sustainable and low impact as possible.  

Clear and accessible waste management is key to reducing the clean-up and bump out at the end of the day.  He also said that the rise of the food trucks helped along by City of Sydney has been a huge factor in reducing the events management headache. These vans operate self sufficiently by producing their own power, water, lighting and gas as well as BYOing their own serving utensils, cups and plates.  They also look fantastic and contribute to the atmosphere of the event- my personal favourite is the ‘Nighthawk Diner’ pictured below housed in a vintage airstream caravan so shiny you can check your teeth for cheeseburger after your meal!

the Nighthawk Diner

the Nighthawk Diner

Although there was plenty to do for adults I felt like a real focus of the event was kids and kids environmental education, particularly introducing them to insects and bug life through a show by INSECTUS the insect man and to lizards and reptiles as well as a brilliant show about water and its importance.  Little giggles and squeals of delight from the audience abounded as a giant book opened to reveal a hand painted backdrop for the show.  And all for free- I can imagine my glee if I was a parent in Sydney finding such a high calibre of educational entertainment for FREE! And outside in a beautiful setting.     

Insektus the Insect man

Insektus the Insect man

There was also a great range of stores selling local produce and home and garden products to up your green factor.  Amongst all this there were roaming representatives from Council’s various environmental initiatives interviewing people from the community to get their feedback on various environmental projects including the controversial environmental levy.

I’m hoping as the success and popularity of events such as these becomes clear more councils will adopt some of the strategies and techniques displayed by Randwick.  Sometimes promoting sustainability is as simple as getting people outside into the sunshine to eat fresh local foods and lie on the grass while the kids zip around having the time of their lives! 

Til next time,
Em x

Stilts Performers

Stilts Performers

Landscape features

Symmetrical  landscape features

Veggie Garden

The Veggie Garden & a workshop in progress

Local pooches

Local pooches

the big top

the big top

Colour

Never has waste management looked so good

Finding a bit of shade

A diamond python finds a bit of shade

Spectators

Spectators soak up the sun

Bike Friendly Clovelly + Better Block (the Video!)

 

Still's from Elin's video

Still’s from Elin’s video

 

Stills from Elin's video

Stills from Elin’s video

 

Things are starting to gain pace on the Better Block Clovelly planning front.  The event date is set for the 27th of October with a lot of planning, logistics and meetings to happen before then.  Our next gathering is this Sunday 3pm at the Creativity Unlimited Studios Clovelly Road.  In the meantime I’d like to share a beautiful video of our first meeting made by Elin Bandmann.

Elin runs the cool bike friendly blog PUT THE FUN BETWEEN YOUR LEGS and has become super involved in bike friendly initiatives all throughout Sydney. I love the tongue-in-cheek title of her blog- literally putting the fun back into cycling daily for all her readers.  

Look out for familiar faces in the video below, including mine and Grace’s!

Elin (just because she hasn’t been amazing enough already) has also designed this excellent logo below to promote cycling for fun and transport throughout the Eastern Suburbs and Clovelly.  The idea is that the logo can be made into stickers, displayed on bumpers, poles and in cafe and shop windows to generate awareness around cycling and even incorporate a discount for patrons who used their bike to get to the cafe/shop/event/business.  It is an excellent initiative and as it is being rolled out at the same time as Better Block I’m hoping that Bike Friendly Clovelly will be able to piggyback off some of the exposure and publicity we generate in the lead up to the event.

Elin Bandmann's logo for Bike Friendly Clovelly

Elin Bandmann’s logo for Bike Friendly Clovelly

 

Til next time!

Em   

 

Clovelly Road Better Block Inception Meeting

Better Block poster

Yesterday the community inception meeting for Sydney’s first ‘Better Block’ happening on the 27th of October 2013 was held at Creativity Unlimited Studios Clovelly Road.  Better Block is a neighbourhood demonstration movement which was started in the US by a guy named Jason Roberts.  The movement basically advocates grassroots urban design interventions in streets, blocks and neighbourhoods which are installed temporarily over a day or weekend in order to demonstrate how easily the community can engage in the activity of place making– particularly when it is planned from the ground up.

The particular interventions undertaken have varied from site to site as the Better Block movement has gained momentum in the United States.  They might comprise of dropping off a load of trees and pot plants to introduce foliage to the streetscape, opening up vacant or neglected buildings to host a temporary art show, painting demonstration pedestrian crossings, placing street furniture and cafe seating in places where the city codes prevent such activities from happening…the possibilities are only limited by the skills and willingness of communities to get behind the initiative and participate.  As Jason Roberts explains in his TED talk below, often the planning regulations preventing such things from happening on streets were simply the outdated legacy of laws which had been in place for over fifty years i.e for so long that people were loath to question why things were that way, as they were just the way they’ve always been.  Right? Sound familiar?

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So, despite over forty Better Block events having occurred already in the US, Clovelly Road Better Block will be the second in Australia and the first in Sydney.  Those pesky Victorians beat us to the punch as per usual with a Better Block back in June 2013 in Geelong :D.  The man behind Clovelly Road Better Block is Phil Stubbs who is an active Eastern Suburbs sustainability voice who also lectures in Urban Planning at UNSW.  His partner Lisa runs kids and adults art classes out of Creativity Unlimited Studios and the space will also double as Better Block HQ in the lead up to the event.

Outside BB HQ

So why Clovelly Road? And why this particular stretch of Clovelly Road? This year, new strategic planning terms handed down by NSW Department of Planning and Infrastructure designate the area as a ‘Neighbourhood Centre’- meaning a focal point for the surrounding area, a convergence point for business and social activities and a symbol of neighbourhood pride and identity.  This is all very well (on paper) however as Phil points out, this particular strip of Clovelly Road has seen approximately 12 businesses fail in the last couple of years.  Increased traffic and congestion on key linking roads such as Arden Street make walking and other alternative modes of transport less then attractive.  Clovelly at times seems sandwiched between bigger fish to fry like Coogee Beach and Randwick Junction.

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Fundamentally though, I think the area was chosen as perfect for a Better Block event because of its innate potential to be a great street.  Clovelly Road East features stunning vistas down to the ocean, wide sunny streets and broad footpaths coupled with a vibrant variety of small local business who have managed to hold on despite the difficulty of competing with nearby mega mall Bondi Junction.  These elements make for excellent building blocks, but the true potential of the area is yet to be fully explored and it is being held back by an inactive concrete dominated streetscape that does not respond well to social movement and flow.  And at night time well… compared to nearby Bondi or Randwick, there is nothing doing.  To me ‘neighbourhood centre’ implies activity throughout the day and into the night, that lingering element that you get in the European squares and public spaces that Jason Roberts eludes to early in his talk.

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Yesterdays meeting was about garnering interest, brain storming and gathering ideas for the event.  The turnout was great.  Over sixty people showed up, some just dropping by for a scone and a cuppa but most stayed for the long haul and all posted ideas and contributions which are going to make this event so interesting and exciting for everyone involved. There were representatives from local business, politics, other sustainability groups, Rotary- even celeb gardener Costa Georgiadis popped by for a chat! Phil’s method is entirely open source, if you have an idea Better Block can help make it happen.  Things will happen in groups, with a group for Cycling, Food, Art, Furniture and kids activities.  Phil explained that even traffic engineers had responded to the event with positivity- saying that as a one day thing, a lot more becomes doable and permissible.

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I’ll be updating about Clovelly Road Better Block event progress in the lead up to the event.  If you want to learn more or become involved, like the Facebook Page and get in contact with Phil.  It is shaping up to be a fantastic event that will change the way we think about the Clovelly Road.

Thank you to Lisa & Phil for having us (all sixty or so of us)!

Til next time

Emma

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