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Better Block at Melbourne Sustainable Living Festival

Team Better Block is working with the Sustainable Living Festival in Melbourne Australia over the coming week to explore how better block can advance sustainable living and putting to work many of the wonderful innovations in green technology emerging from Australia. Kicking-off in Melbourne, Jason and I spoke to a packed crowd of enthusiastic doers and thinkers.

Melbourne is proving that every community has all the resources and talent to make change, they just need to be activated and provided  a platform to work together. The better block has been well received by the science community in Australia because it uses scientific methods in testing new ways of using the built environment. I am learning that better block is a pathway not only for community collaboration, but individual life changes that lead to sustainability. My own story of leaving corporate america, ditching the auto commute for walking commute, replacing many business trips with video conferences and social media and simply living local in Oak Cliff has made my life more sustainable and greatly reduced my carbon footprint.

I see now that the better block facilitates this type of lifestyle change. Many of the volunteers and leaders we have worked with have made these lifestyle changes on their own following the better block experience. They have started their own business, reduced auto use, built a cooperative housing project, started a co-working office or simply started living more locally. I am encouraged by this Festival and increasingly seeing how better block is meshing with the greater environmental movement to advance change.

In Australia they don’t have years to involve people in creating a shared vision of a sustainable future. They literally have six months.  That is the next election cycle is coming around and climate change is at the center of the debate. Too many people see climate change as a daunting task and are more focused on immediate human needs. The better block could be a powerful key for Australians to collectively step up and demonstrate what a low carbon world means to them.

I recommend that projects highlight how green technology can be retrofitted into streets to reduce the need for fossil fuels by, for example, installing  solar lighting and wind capture. I see using the better block as a temporary testing ground for integrating new ideas into the streetscape and urban fabric. We created testing zones for nuclear weapons and subverted laws for years to advance military technology. Why not create sustainability testing zones in cities that advance green technology, incubate new businesses and foster housing improvements?

Six months is plenty of time for Australia to accomplish 4 better block projects and give a snap shot of what a ‘sustainability testing zone’ would look like! I can only imagine what will come from the creative folks I have met here. For tour details see below:

A mini better block in Melbourne accomplished in three hours using crate paper, sticky notes, plastic bags and CHALK!


  1. GEELONG, Activating Community Lecture Better Block Lecture

Tues, 19 Feb, 6 – 7pm, Percy Baxter Theatre, Deakin University (Waterfront), 1 Gheringhap Street, Geelong, VIC 3220. Gold coin donation.

  1. GEELONG, Activating Community Lecture Better Block Workshop

Weds 20 Feb, 9am – 12pm, Courthouse Arts, Gheringhap St

Geelong, VIC 322, Geelong, free.

  1. TRARALGON, Better Block Presentation and Workshop Thurs, 21 Feb, 6 -9pm, free.

  1. BALLARAT, Better Block Presentation and Workshop Sat, 23 Feb, 10am – 1pm, free.

  1. HEIDELBERG HEIGHTS, Making A Better Block – Murundaka

*Inspired by Better Block

Sat 23 Feb 10am – 4pm, Murundaka Co-Housing, Heidelberg Heights, $50 Full, $40 Conc,

  1. SYDNEY, Better Block Presentation and Networking event Tues, 26 Feb, 6-9pm, Riderfood Warehouse, 303 Cleveland Street, Redfern, Sydney, free


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