How do we enable our communities to support great outcomes in their local environments, and how in turn does this help to make our communities stronger?
This is the question that our Strategy Lead Ange Van Es recently explored in her session at the Social Impact Festival and Creating Communities is currently exploring this concept with land developer Cedar Woods in their new Bushmead development.
Through our work in metropolitan, regional and remote settings we’ve seen that the natural environment can become a powerful focal point for building shared experience and pride in communities, providing the opportunity for diverse groups of people and stakeholders to come together in productive ways.
In her talk, Ange highlighted the following learnings from past projects working with communities, industry and government to develop innovative environmental initiatives:
- That caring for the environment can take many different forms from grassroots action and advocacy to education – all of which are just as valid and important as each other.
- That it’s important to connect with the heart and spirit of the community by listening to their aspirations and concerns, and harnessing local knowledge to inform solutions.
- To never do it alone – bringing on as many partners as possible by clearly articulating the value proposition for them to get involved.
These learnings have helped to inform the approach in Bushmead, a unique housing development nestled amongst 185 hectares of bush (that’s the equivalent of 93 football ovals!) which aims to protect and enhance the existing natural values and character of the site, minimise environmental impact and foster an engaged, healthy and connected community.
Even though no residents have moved in yet, Cedar Woods and Creating Communities have kick started a conversation with local stakeholders and community representatives on how they can work together to maximise the sustainability outcomes of the project and build community around a shared love of, and sense of custodianship over, the bush.
It’s been fantastic to see the level of excitement and interest from local primary schools, community led environmental groups, local Bendigo Bank branches, and many others. While the initiatives are still emerging, we’ve been chuffed to see the positive impact of people coming together in discussion!