Compiling and promoting ‘Where to go to get it’- an accessible register of skills, produce, knowledge and creativity incorporating three rural settlements on the boundary of Hepburn and Mt Alexander shires- Yandoit, Clydesdale and Franklinford- to support local livelihoods and community connection.
Skills training in website administration, e-news and social media for Localising Leanganook, to promote community conversations and initiate actions which sustain viable local economies, act on social and ecological justice, reclaim democracy, revitalise spirituality, create new paradigms, showcase innovative and sustainable local initiatives, and incubate ideas and strategies that strengthen community connection and resilience across central Victoria.
Initiating a food mapping exercise across Hepburn shire that demonstrates an interactive picture of ecology, food growing environments and human settlements. The common source map will enable communities within the shire and across central Victoria to be more strategic in relation to food production and distribution. It will also strengthen resilience as our climate changes; identify data needed to make significant structural changes and alternative visionary ways of approaching food growing; gain a broad view of past, current and future food growing activities/opportunities; provide an overview of conventional and regenerative food growing, food security, zoning, local livelihoods, common land food, share farming opportunities, fertile agricultural land, regenerative farming etc.; and contribute towards maintaining prime agricultural land and central Victoria as a regional food bowl.
PROJECT: Re-localising: skills, food and community conversation
GRANTEE: Nikki Marshall
Inspired by her commitment to community and the completion of a Masters Degree in Sustainability and Social Change in which she focused on gift relationships, Nikki felt ‘called’ to re-locate from Melbourne to Yandoit – a small settlement between Castlemaine and Daylesford in central Victoria.
With the support of a strong network of friends and local contacts, Nikki was instrumental in organising Local Lives Global Matters - A Conference for Futures Sake held in Castlemaine in 2015. This conference, with both local and international speakers, generated a surge of interest and activity. It centred on how to shift from living in ways determined by a globalised neo-capitalist economy to one creatively attentive to human flourishing and living within the capacity of natural systems.
Nikki articulates in compelling detail how this project emerged from conversations over kitchen tables and took shape in the developing networks of a community committed to change. The way in which the project has been implemented testifies to the commitment of those who are co-creating alternative ways of living in central Victoria, whether in townships like Castlemaine or Daylesford or in small rural Victorian settlements like Yandoit, Clydesdale and Franklinford, which nestle on the boundaries of Hepburn and Mt Alexander Shires. Their work is built around the awareness that global issues can impact on regional, localised communities and the importance of a robust local response to these challenges.
Smaller, localised communities have the potential, they say, to inspire change in regional, national and global spheres through a process of rippling out and inspiring others. It is a practice rooted in the understanding that we all have the power to make a telling difference within our sphere of influence.
The Project comprised three components and NED Foundation Funding supported stages two and three.
‘Where to go to get it’- an accessible register of skills, produce, knowledge and creativity which is designed to support local livelihoods and community connection. The register is a continual work in progress and available through the yandoit.net community website.
The second stage, supported by NED funding, was the provision of skills training in website administration, e-news and social media, to promote community conversations and initiate action, through the Localising Leanganook platform, emerging out of the Local Lives Global Matters Conference.
Five trained community members now meet to produce a newsletter (on the website www.leanganook.org.) and liaise with local media every four to six weeks with a particular focus on upcoming community conversations and localising thinking and action. In addition to text and images the e-news and website provides access to featured video clips of stimulating community conversations, as well as links to other relevant audio visual material.
The community’s activities showcase innovative and sustainable local initiatives, incubate ideas and implement strategies that strengthen community connection across central Victoria. The aim is to sustain viable local economies, act on social and ecological justice, reclaim democracy and revitalise spirituality.
Localising Leanganook’s e-news and website play a key role in promoting and supporting a wide range of relocalisation activities across the rural cities, towns and small communities within central Victoria. Since the website and e-news training combined with regular production and distribution of e-newsletters, subscriptions have increase by around 300%.
The final component, also supported by NED funding, was a food mapping exercise across Hepburn shire that demonstrates an interactive picture of ecology, food growing environments and human settlements using an open source map – www.localfoodmaps.org. This enables communities within the shire and across central Victoria to be more strategic in relation to food production and distribution, while strengthening resilience as our climate changes. Taking a broad view of past, current and future food production, and supported by the data collected, helps build on the best of both conventional and regenerative means of food production. Nikki and her community are hopeful that this more visionary approach will support future food security, more considered land use zoning, creative and sustaining support for local livelihoods and a more open approach to the use of common land and share-farming activity.
As Nikki says, “We are committed to maintaining and improving prime agricultural land using regenerative approaches to increase central Victoria’s capacity as a food bowl.”
Through this relocalising work community networks have expanded, a variety of activities are on offer such as climate action campaigns and reclaiming democracy projects, and regenerative food production knowledge is shared. Repair Cafes bring locals together to replace a button, sharpen tools, repair carts and much more. Local folk share their lives in eco-villages; renewable energy projects are developed, ‘rites of passage’ weekends are available to men and boys and many come together to celebrate community festivals.
Since its inception at the end of 2016, Localising Leanganook has hosted regular community conversations with between 20 and 120 people in attendance. Topics covered have included:
- Cooperatives as alternative economic structures;
- Climate, system change and young voices;
- Eco-collaborative housing and de-growth;
- Regenerative economies;
- How can we do democracy better?
- Political economy of housing and real estate;
- Community participation in the transition to Zero-net energy;
- Food Sovereignty and La Via Campesina;
- Earth jurisprudence and the Australian Earth Laws Alliance;
- Rites of passage for boys and men;
- Renewable Newstead;
- The Commons, the Cooperative and the Wardrobe;
- Democracy from the ground up.
Other community events supported and promoted have included:
- The Stop Adani film and blockade with q and a in Daylesford;
- Starting up and encouraging Repair Cafes in Castlemaine, Daylesford, Bendigo and Woodend;
- Biodiversity and revegetation talks,
- Plastic bag free campaigns and boomerang bags;
- School strike for climate;
- Mt Alexander eco-housing;
- Daylesford/Macedon Ranges open studios;
- No more coal letter writing cafes;
- Castlemaine State festival and Documentary Film festival;
- Daylesford Culture club;
- Fire resilience workshops;
- Words in Winter festival- Daylesford;
- Democracy for dinner;
- Bringing permaculture co-originator David Holmgren and Retro Suburbia to Castlemaine;
- Food sovereignty forums;
- Castlemaine Seed library;
- Wild Fennel medical plants
- Western highway expansion community campaign
Three key directions have emerged. The first is to explore cooperatives as alternative economic structures. The second is based on The Voices for Indi model- introducing Kitchen Table Conversations reaching out to diverse sectors of the community to bring together a range views and groups of people in a process to deepen democracy.
‘The third direction is to rekindle and extend the energy generated at the Local Lives Global Matters : a conference for futures sake, hosted in Castlemaine in 2015, by hosting a Convergence focused on insight and action in Spring 2020.
‘This will help our community to build on the work we have done in creating real and sustainable change to ensure that local and global communities and ecologies can recover and thrive,’ Nikki says.