Through the fog of uncertainty surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic for the last two years, we have seen a reconnaissance of strong and connected communities, supporting each other through challenging times. For many who aren’t able to see families and loved ones for such a long period of time, being part of a supportive, welcoming community can have a huge impact on their mental wellbeing.
We know that COVID-19 will continue to impact on our lives, and so our focus this year has been to identify opportunities with stakeholders and community members that will lead to strong, local connections. These are some of the highlights of this year.
We have continued to partner with land developers who recognise the importance of human connection in neighbourhoods. From welcome breakfasts, tree planting and new mothers’ groups, to over 60s coffee catch ups, sundowners and live music in the park, we are reminded of the importance of community and local connections across all the projects we work on with land developers.
At Bushmead Estate, we have seen residents come together over a shared vision and passion for environmental conservationism. With a mission to maintain 69% of retained bushland, Cedar Woods engaged Creating Communities to encourage community involvement, specifically through the creation of the environmental group, the Bushmead Cobbers, and regular local tree planting events. In August, the Bushmead community celebrated a major milestone with the planting of the 500,000th tree, at an official ceremony at the estate. Not only has this seen the rejuvenation of native bushland, but by coming together for regular tree plantings and conservation meetings, it has fostered a tightknit community.
At the Village at Wellard, we saw the power that a connected, strong community can have when a group of dedicated residents saw an opportunity to transform a vacant lot into a temporary community hub. We connected stakeholders, local government and agencies with the Wellard Village People to co-design and approve the use of the space. The Wellard Village People then applied for and received a $7,000 grant for the project through the RAC Connecting Communities Fund and launched the activation of the space at the annual Thrillage at Wellard Halloween Event. Named the Wondering Orchard Temporary Community Hub, instead of an empty, vacant lot, the space is being used for small scale community gatherings and events and is an area for people to gather at the Wellard Square Shopping Precinct. This is the power of community.
By actively engaging with communities, we learn about their interests, their demographics, and what makes them unique. As a result, the events and activities we facilitate are customised to maximise the capacity of bringing people together and forging connections through mutual and shared interests. At Lakelands, we identified the community’s strong interest in music and worked with the residents to host Buskers by the Lake, which featured young and upcoming musicians performing for their neighbours as well as a series of drumming workshops.
At Golden Bay, we invited the over-60s residents to come together on a weekly basis for coffee morning catch ups, while at Brabham, we identified the need for new mums to have a space to connect with each other every week and helped them form the Bubs of Brabham.
Our work in the Western Australian regions continues to gather pace, strengthening the fabric of communities in Hedland and Newman, where we have seen the collective efforts of the stakeholders, organisations and industry working with the communities to drive transformational change.
As we head towards 2022, with the uncertainty of the pandemic still lingering, we recognise the value more than ever before in our work of supporting communities and encouraging hyper local connections. To ensure communities remain supported and connected regardless of what the pandemic throws at us, we have built digital platforms across some of our projects, while all of our projects have contingency COVID plans to allow us to pivot quickly. Because we know that when people feel connected with their community, it can have a profound and lasting impact on the well-being of individuals.