Recreating the Sustainability Hub through placemaking

THE NAME OF THE GAME IS PLACEMAKING — and it’s a serious but constructive and fun sort of game that brought a bunch of people together to think creatively about how the Randwick Sustainability Hub—located at Randwick Community Centre—could be better used.

Although the place is already in use, the time has come to populate it with new ideas and new community ventures and the placemaking process was ideal for this—explaining how that worked was my role. The purpose of placemaking is to engage people in generating ideas to create safe, attractive places where people like to gather. It is a participatory, inclusive process that is powered more by what citizens want than by the ideas and desires of professional designers.

The Permaculture Interpretive Garden complements the energy and water efficiency retrofitting of the centre’s buildings

Fiona Campbell and Grahame Collier.

Led by Fiona Campbell, council’s sustainability educator, and sustainability education consultant, Grahame Collier, the session raised quite a lot of good ideas.

Grahame explained that the challenge was where those present want to take the facility now that the energy and water efficient retrofit and educational facilities are almost complete and the associated Permaculture Interpretive Garden close to completion too. A range of participatory processes was used to extract and define ideas and these were documented.

Ideas flowed:  a more welcoming entrance, drop-in centre function, video evenings and discussions, building on the social ambience during the Food Connect City Cousin weekly food box collection, the coming workshop in creating a food forest in the Permaculture Interpretive Garden, a parents’ and children’s’ group, restarting the children’s EcoHero club at the centre, activities in the garden, Sydney LETS market days, a sewers’ swap where people could exchange things sewers need such as buttons and fabric, a jelly—a co-working facility and more.

The Hub, with its wind turbine and solar photovoltaic array producing energy or the grid, has been in use since it was opened last year and is venue for council’s Living Smart, community leadership and Sustainable Gardening courses as well as for workshops and collaborative consumption-type swaps.