A hakari sharing stall, a communal whare heihei, beehives, an e-Waste collection, ideas for a pop up repair cafe, communal gardens, regular garden bees and new gardening knowledge, shared mahi and kai, energy reductions through solar heating, LED lighting, a walking school bus and generally just smarter ways of doing things.
These are just some of the results that have come out of the four groups who’ve been part of the 2016-17 Greener Neighbourhood programme. Now in their ninth month,the groups are reflecting over what they’ve done since coming together in June last year. At that point many participants didn’t know each other and have now become friends. Soon the groups will remeasure their eco footprint’s to gauge how their actions have made a measurable difference. They will be telling their stories to the Greener Neighbourhood’s judges and taking part in an awards ceremony where a $2000 award will be given to the group who has made the most significant progress. While this marks the end of the official programme, it’s really just the beginning for these groups who have built for themselves a dynamic, supportive community with social and environmental aspirations.
Council is again calling for new groups to take part in the 2017/18 Greener Neighbourhoods programme, which will begin in June this year. Groups of five or more neighbours can get together to take part. Groups begin by measuring their ecological footprint, then set about reducing it over the ten-month period. Soon after the start of Greener Neighbourhoods programme is No8 Wire week, where participants can take part in a series of free workshops and excursions that encourage resourcefulness, DIY and environmental responsibility. From here groups are supported by the Sustainable Communities Coordinator to set and reach goals, with additional support from Councils Green Gardener, Eco Home Advisor and Waste Minimisation Officer.
Kirsty Anderson, a Greener Neighbourhoods past participant reflects her experience:
‘The positive impacts of taking part in the programme can be felt long after it’s over’ says Kirsty, ‘We still do things differently now’. Having not long moved into their house, Kirsty says its was a great time to get set up correctly. Many families in their group were in a similar situation, keen to put in vegetable gardens and compost bins, and plant fruit trees. With help from the Council, the group hosted workshops on topics including permaculture, pruning and grey water.
‘It was good to work collectively’, says Kirsty, ‘everyone has knowledge to share. The benefits were more than just the learning opportunity- we had regular gardening bees, moving around the houses and often ending with a pot luck meal,' says Kirsty. 'We found it a fantastic way to get to know people, and made great friendships.'
Council are currently looking for four to six neighbourhood groups to take part in this year’s Greener Neighbourhood competition. Registrations close on 1 May. See the timeline below for more information or contact the Sustainabale Communities Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org