Monday, December 20, 2010

What is Placemaking?

We have a grant to do some "Placemaking" - but what is this concept and how do we go about achieving it?
Think of a physical place you like to be and think of social situations which warm you and make you feel good, combine the two and you have placemaking in action. That's an abbreviated and very simplistic definition. Here are some quotes to expand the idea

"Placemaking , the creation of liveable, people friendly, walkable, resilient and beautiful places, revitalises and renews existing communities, creates social sustainability."

“Placemaking is the process of creating spaces that are vibrant and pleasurable by engaging the senses, the intellect and memory.”

P”"Place making is not about making ‘great places’ – it is about making great places – for people. “

“Place making is the process of creating ‘places’ that provide economic, intellectual, cultural, emotional and sensory nourishment for the people who will use them - builds relationships between people, and between people and their places.”

"A place is attractive to people because it has a unique identity that is authentic to the location – “spirit of place”, “soliphilia”. This makes the place meaningful to people because they can connect to it in a personal and often emotional way. When the identity of a place changes, e.g. a main street deteriorates,  people’s perception of that place will change too. (Solistalgia)

Perception of the character of a place is key to their participation in the life of that place i.e. if it feels dangerous they won’t come or if it is dominated by one group it may appear that others are not welcome. For these reasons an essential aspect of any place making process is the involvement with the community who uses or wants to use a place. It is their knowledge and aspirations that should guide the creation of place – after all they are the people who are going to use them. "

"1. reveal and respond to the character of the place
2. involve people in the planning and activation of the place
3. respond to people’s emotional needs and aspirations
4. create ‘attractive’ places for people by providing them with multiple experiences
5. create pleasurable experiences that evoke sensory and emotional delight."

Our Place at 31A Church Street is a public place on privately owned land. It already has many of the characteristics - it involves people socially and emotionally, is attractive, provides multiple experiences, it has a history, invokes memory and engages intellect. Our task is to show more people in the local community how this is open to them too. 

This piece of land was once part of the lush and dense woodland and rainforest which grew before European settlement. It would have been traversed by many Awabakal feet over many thousands of years. A short walk to the top of the hill to what is now Crebert Street and they would have seen the river and it's channels where Industrial Highway now runs. The rock you see next to roads and exposed along the Highway contains Chert, a very hard rock which makes durable and sharp stone tools of all sizes. These were highly prized and traded far inland along trade routes - this area was an industrial site long before 1801. 
From Newcastle Regional gallery collection, painted by convict/colonial artist, Joseph Lycett, a hint of the scene you might have seen from what was Platt's Channel and is now Steel City, looking towards  Keepa Keepa (Mt Sugarloaf)      
Lost to contemporary memory as this is a photo of a funeral in 1900 leaving the old St Andrew's church, built in 1861 when Mayfield wasn't even called Mayfield and was way out in the bush, a day's trip by wagon and a few hours on horseback or a hard row up the river.
Barefooted boys in the foreground at this St Andrew's carnival day in 1920 play on the grounds where Church Street Community Garden now grows. The carnival ride they are enjoying would NEVER be allowed today - insurance and Occupational  Health and Safety requirements would prevent that.

The old St Andrew's church, demolished decades ago. The oldest member of  Rotary Club of Newcastle Enterprise remembers teaching Sunday school in this building.

 History, memory, community, simple pleasures, a bit of fun and a laugh or too, sometimes some deeply philosophical discussions, sometimes chat and trivia, a bit of spray-can "art" on occasions, good food, engaging the senses - we have it all and more in this small space.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Carol for Gardeners

City Farm Community Garden, Ash Island Hexham

To the tune of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen"

"Come all you weary gardeners
Don't throw your rakes away
The weeds aren't always thick and high 
The way they are today
Our pumpkins make the sweetest pie
The beans reach to the sky
We've got corn, peas and lettuces
Spinach by the ton
Melons, radish, carrots and some capsicum

Cabbage moths and funguses 
Will always pass us by
There's hoverflies and dragonflies
And ladybugs as well
The garlic spray annoys the pests 
And makes them run away
We have creeping crawly worms, bugs, wasps
Beetles and bees
And never ever aches or muddy knees

We know it is impossible
For choko vines to die
Our tanks will always be full up
The soil will never dry
Magic garden gnomes will work
While we sit idly by
We'll have gardening in comfort and joy
Comfort and Joy
We'll have gardening in comfort and Joy!"

Monday, December 13, 2010

Costa wants more weeds

Costa and Kathy Heyman
Costa talking to the "Elders" of March Street Community Garden and as you can see, very comfortable on the purple caterpillar

The pizza oven tended by Alex

The evening was full of colour and fun

Some of the crowd of over a hundred

Costa was inspired to visit Newcastle's community gardens after seeing Jamie's "Placestory" about Villiers Street and the need to move. Jamie Pomfrett and Jenny Cameron have collaborated to bring the story of many of the community gardens into context. A garden is not just a garden. It's a place where friendships build, individuals use and sometimes abuse them in their own way, food is grown and shared. Community gardens of all types are keepers of the knowledge of growing food in a social setting. They are a buffer against the reduction in home-grown produce. Over 50% of Australia's food is now imported. Costa says we should all be like the weeds in a bitumen carpark, getting seeds germinating in tiny cracks, wriggling roots into the soil, forming mycorrhizal connections with soil fungi, breaking down the barriers to water and bringing back productivity and growth, regenerating the land. "Be weeds" he said!  He has an hour-long special on Australia Day - worth recording if you can't watch it on the day.

Urban farm in Detroit USA 

Here's an idea for Newcastle.
As Costa says, even if your garden is one plant in a pot you are a farmer. Putting the areas of all the big, little, guerilla and domestic gardens together there is a considerable mosaic of farm-land.  In Newcastle there is a large piece of degraded land between  Throsby Creek, the railway line and Chatham Road, Hamilton North. It is roughly triangular, about 450 Metres by about 170 Metres so it is approximately 38 Hectares.  Some nice old brick buildings on it and enormous potential for an urban farm. Preserve some of our built heritage and re-use it as a base for a community green space producing food, now there's an idea.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sunflowers, mathematics and Fibonacci

The Fibonacci numbers are the numbers in the following integer sequence
By definition, the first two Fibonacci numbers are 0 and 1, and each subsequent number is the sum of the previous two. Some sources begin the sequence with two 1s. 
The Fibonacci sequence is named after Leonardo of Pisa, known as Fibonacci (a contraction of filius Bonacci, "son of Bonaccio").  Fibonacci sequences are used in finance and also appear in biological settings, such as branching in trees and in the model for the pattern of florets in the head of a sunflower. There is a formula which explains how the seeds pack together with the greatest efficiency, resulting in a spiral pattern.
Two very large sunflower heads with the spiral pattern very clear
 Mathematics - the language of Nature. If you want to know more follow this link to wikipedia and Fibonacci

Monday, December 6, 2010

Costa will visit Newcastle on December 13th

The plan is for everyone to gather around 6pm and share food, and then from 8pm we'll have the outdoor screening of stories from the PlaceStories website. Please bring seats/blankets to sit on. The Croatian Club will be open and serving drinks (and that's where we'll go if it's raining).

Re Food.
The pizza oven will be going from 6pm, and Fig Tree have kindly offered to make pizza bases. But that means we need to bring toppings, especially the basic cheese and tomato paste.  And it would be good to have some finger food that doesn't need to go into the pizza oven (just so people get fed!).

So could everyone coordinate within their community garden group to make sure that people bring along some of the basic cheese and tomato toppings, plus some extra toppings, as well as some finger food that doesn't need to go into the oven. 

The previous posts tell the story of why Costa is coming to Newcastle.

Echium in flower at Aldinga Community Garden in South Australia

Friday, December 3, 2010

Jamie's Placestory and our Placemaking grant from NCC

Copy and paste this link into your browser  or click on the link

Jamie has produced a "Placestory" as a brief introduction to the transition Villiers Street Comunity Garden made to becoming Church Street Community Garden.  We are all waiting to see if a notable TV gardening presenter will be able to launch it very soon.  
But wait! there's more! We are in the process of receiving a "Placemaking" grant from Newcastle City Council, just the paperwork and funds transfer to complete. This grant, combined with the grant we received for Villiers Street as a seed grant, is a huge boost to us. From little things big things grow. 
We are very grateful to NCC for the financial support we have received. Gratitude is one of the least long-lived emotions, so we will use the cash to turn it into long-term social, emotional and environmental gold in our local community. The grant application was for a picnic setting which is safe and suitable for public use, and for an event to promote membership and community participation in the garden.  Now we will have the pleasure and fun of making it all happen.

Church Street Community Garden Inc is an autonomous community group hosted by St Andrew's Mayfield. Rev Andrew emailed the link 
to a Uniting Church newsletter and it shows just how community, humanity and environmental stewardship unites us all. 

The picture is apropos absolutely nothing in particular except, is this what bakers do when they are bored stiff?  Driving from Adelaide to Ardrossan on Yorke Peninsula, stopped at an eatery for lunch and there were these wild cakes.

And another, just because the sky and the sea at Ardrossan were being gorgeous.