Community support through arts & sustainability

sustainability Melbourne

Councils in Melbourne build community support through engagements across many areas of council business. Arts and sustainability for example. The opening of ‘Small Worlds’ exhibition at Footscray Library last week demonstrated Maribyrnong City Council’s great work in this area. I submitted a piece titled ‘Road Trips’ and really appreciated the opportunity!

And the treasure hunt, or the ‘Recycled Art Trail” If you could answer question 1. Find something that helps you find your way when you are travelling you’d see my piece, which includes a Melways picked up on the street.

sustainability Melbourne
Janet Rice senator elect Greens, Grant Miles, Mayor, and the judges

Janet Rice, once a Maribyrnong councillor, spoke about  the value of constraints in creativity. She’s seen this using recycled materials in garden design and gift making. A neat segue led to a modestly optimistic conclusion. When we embrace climate mitigation and adaptation, this creativity will kick in.

I felt like a winner hearing her carefully considered speech. Makers of some of my favourites, ‘Herbs for the Burbs’ and ‘Helibot’ got to shake the Mayor’s hand and collect $200. A really exciting  range of creative work exploring re-used materials. What was great for me was that ‘Road Trips’ evoked the response I’d hoped for.

To me, being able to hit the mark without being pushy, pedantic or plain boring, makes creativity, purposefully directed, important in all plans and their implementation.

## If  you want to push your Facebook buttons for me – here’s a link to the People’s Choice voting!

Squashed flat on a road trip.

High line, goods line, Sydney urban green space

urban green space

New York’s Highline is a magnificent urban green space. Here’s my favourite planting.


Did you know Sydney has an 1854 rail line between Broadway and Darling Harbour? Now the city is looking to develop its Goods Line, linking key locations and increasing urban green space. As well as tourism potential – my walks on the Highline were shoulder-to-shoulder with tourists from all over.

The Institute for Sustainable Futures will be designing monitoring and evaluation research to help the city understand exactly how such green spaces contribute to a better quality of city living. Read more.

You can find a great account of Highline creator Robert Hammond’s talk at Melbourne Town Hall on Port Places’ post The Highline by my sister Janet Bolitho. She notes that Hammond was more enthusiastic about the culture of the Highline than its plantings. Nice reminder that I really enjoyed meeting a man sitting on a folding stool with a suitcase, who writes stories for people, for a small fee. He was having a doco made about him and chatted to us in a break.


Melbourne CBD walk – sustainable and cultural

A great afternoon with the University of Melbourne Planning Student’s Association out in the rainy streets of the CBD on Friday.

The objective?

– To facilitate exchange between recently enrolled students, those in second semester and final year of study.
–  To learn about the CBD as a place influenced by people from different cultures, walks of life and sustainable policy and planning directions

35 students met at Mid-City, once a Hoyts cinema, now a shopping arcade. There was a fabulous diversity of backgrounds: people from New South Wales, Mauritius, north west and north east China, Vietnam, Melbourne north and south of the river, people who had heard Rob Adams speak three times or more, people who didn’t know where Little Collins Street was, people who loved Brutalism and people who’d been learning about green infrastructure.

The most surprising stop for most students? … a laneway off little Bourke Street with tip top waste management. The most fascinating? … the ‘Perfect Tree’ in Russell Street.

that perfect tree2

‘You opened our eyes,’ said a number of students, with one adding, ‘you got us thinking about things that we’d usually only glance at.’

Photo credit, Perfect Tree: Alexander Sheko

Changing mind; making up mind

Just read Stuart Brand’s ‘Whole Earth Discipline, an eco-pragmatist manifesto’. Brand was editor of the optimistic, 70s Whole Earth Catalogue. Now he’s back willing to consider radically different alternative alternatives, in the face of climate change.

He’s undertaken the book in the spirit of debate, and with ‘the long now’ in mind – the future 10,000 years. What bugs him is the pessimism of those who still hold ’70s’ view. He sees them as romantic’mossback environmentalists’. In transformative times, he regards environmentalism’s purposeful agendas as a problem. Why aren’t they willing to change their minds?

He’s changed his. With coal burning as a no no, he’s getting behind nuclear power. This puts him onside with James Lovelock, Tim Flannery and Bill McKibben who gave judicious support to an IPCC proposal that nuclear energy should provide an increased 2% of the world’s energy supply. Brand believes that ‘seizing the century’ involves getting on board with green biohackers, technophiles, GE researchers, urbanists and infrastructure rebuilders.

The book’s very upbeat. It really engaged me. Brand believes  we can’t assume that future humans will be like us, either in terms of available technologies or basic concerns. In other words that having a cautious future orientation is paternalistic. We should be prepared to take steps along the way in an emergent adaptation plan, including nuclear energy. We shouldn’t turn away from anything that limits the burning of coal.

This book is very optimistic about science. Unfortunately, there are no great deliberations in society, either between between scientists, politicians, policy makers or the people when it comes to testing out assumptions about following where science leads. Ever wonder why so many spokespeople give views with the proviso ‘I’m not a climate scientist’?

Maybe that line isn’t really about climate science expertise. Maybe it’s really saying that there’s a lot more to climate politics and culture change than energy related problem solving.