Over the last eight years eighteen groups involving 155 households have participated in the Greener Neighbourhoods programme. Extensive Greener Neighbourhood stories tell of communities coming together to build better, environmentally lighter lifestyles, enduring friendships and innovative projects with lasting positive impacts.
This year we have taken some time out to evaluate the Greener Neighbourhoods programme and are now calling for new groups to take part in the 2018. While staying true to its primary objectives to build community, reduce environmental impacts and increase resilience we have made some changes in response to feedback from participants and to align with Council’s commitment to support of community-led projects. The 2018 Greener Neighbourhoods programme is shifting from being a competition to offering an opportunity for groups to apply for a community-led grant for projects that reduce environmental impacts and build resilience. Also, after a successful trial of a whānau model in 2016 we are inviting both whānau and neighbourhood groups to take part.
Greener Neighbourhoods fosters and supports tangible work that directly reduces environmental impacts and increases resilience. Examples of this include:
These areas of focus have also shaped the Sustainable Communities programme for 2018 . Free/affordable services and activities are available to both Greener Neighbourhoods and the wider public, this includes No8 Wire Week, The Repair Cafe and a Community Garden Party series which will have its inaugural kick off in Autumn 2018.
Why Neighbourhood or Whānau groups?
Greener Neighbourhoods started out as ‘Greener Streets”, looking to connect together people to 'turn streets into neighbourhoods’. Groups often started not knowing each other, going on to build vibrant, resilient communities who work together to reduce their environmental impacts. The benefits of building place based communities are well proven - from increasing resilience and emergency preparedness to saving money through sharing resources, making your neighbourhood a safer place to live. Recognition of the benefits of building place based communities has led to initiatives such as Neighbours Day Aotearoa and the WREMO Civil Defence focus on Neighbourhood preparedness. As part of Greener Neighbourhoods, groups work to improve environmental impacts, with assistance to reduce waste, ensure homes are warm, dry and healthy and opportunities to share skills and resources.
In building resilient communities we also recognise the value and potential of whānau based communities - groups of people living in the same area (not necessarily the same street) who are already connected through a sense of being an ‘extended family’. This sense of family connectedness may be as relatives, or as a community connected through common purpose such as being members of the same school, club or association. Greener Neighbourhoods provides an opportunity for a whānau group to strengthen ties while collectively work together to benefit their households and the wider community.
Becoming a Greener Neighbourhood
In 2018 both neighbourhood and whānau groups (of five or more households living in the same area) are invited to take part in the Greener Neighbourhoods programme to collectively work together to reduce their household and collective environmental impacts.
Groups will be supported by the Sustainable Communities Coordinator and have access to Council expertise such as the Green Gardener, the Eco Home Advisor and the Waste Minimisation Officer. The programme begins with an eco-footprinting activity and a focus on improving environmental impacts at home.
From here groups can explore what they would like to do as a community. Groups can apply for a grant to support a project that makes meaningful changes to the benefit of their community and the environment.
If you are interested in forming a Greener Neighbourhood group get in contact! We are calling for expressions of interest in the programme through until Dec 1. The programme will officially launch in February 2018, between now and then there's opportunity for support to form groups. Getting together with your neighbours or whānau to share some Christmas cheer is a great way to get started - we can provide tips on how to approach the festive season in a way that’s friendly on the planet.