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Archive for April, 2009

Living Schools is working with the City of Ryde, Hornsby and Hunters Hill Councils to deliver series of three free workshops for local residents who are interested in learning how to better care for and protect their catchment.

We all live in a catchment and the decisions we make in our homes and gardens, such as the chemicals we use, how we design our gardens and the plants we choose, can make a big difference to the health of our creeks and bushland.

The first round of workshops will be held over the coming weeks. Bookings are essential and places are limited to residents of the partner Council areas. The workshops are as follows:

•    Understanding our impact – Sat 9th May, 1pm to 3.30pm
•    Low impact design for healthy ecosystems – Sat 30th May, 1pm to 3.30pm
•    Caring for our creeks by gardening sustainably – Sat 20th June, 1pm to 3.30pm

Each workshop builds on the previous one and participants are encouraged to attend all three, although this is not essential. A second round of workshops will be held in July and August.

Catchment Connections is assisted by the NSW Government through its Environmental Trust. For more information or to make a booking contact the City of Ryde on 9952 8222.

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In late 2009 Living Schools worked with the Australian Association for Environmental Education (NSW) to implement the Write it up! workshops and mentoring project. Write it up! was all about encouraging educators for sustainability to develop case studies of their projects and to share what they’ve learned with others in our community of practice.

Ten workshops were held successfully across New South Wales and then ten educators were mentored in the development of their case studies. These case studies are available online at www.aaeensw.org.au. They provide an intimate look at a range of excellent EfS projects including school garden projects, indigenous culture reclamation, online learning and more.

Write it up! was supported by the NSW Department of Environment and Climate Change through its Environmental Trust.

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In late 2008 Living Schools worked with Kogarah Council to initiate a community garden project on a local disused bowling green in Carrs Park.

Following initial promotion and community consultation regarding the concept an enthusiastic group had formed, eager to learn and to put their ideas to the test. Educators worked with the group, facilitating two full-day training session, the first focusing on strategic planning and group development and the second on site assessment and design.

Council’s landscape architect attended both sessions, listening closely to the ideas generated so that they could later be translated into a professional design. At the end of the process a strong group of about twenty people agreed on the date for their first independent planning meeting.

The top-down approach to community garden development is often cited as being problematic, probably due to the many examples where such an approach has failed because the community were never actually given ownership. This project suggests that with communication, respect and genuine shared ownership a community garden can indeed be successfully initiated from above. Council is now working collaboratively with the community group to make the garden a reality. We are eager to see how it progresses.

Living Schools have collated the work of the community group during the two training days to develop policy recommendations for council as well as a gardeners’ guide, gardeners’ agreement and initial action plan. These are available upon request to interested parties.

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