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“For the Community, By The Community”: How Innate Ecology in Geelong, Australia Created

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Thanks to Innate Ecology, Inc.  for providing the following detailed report on their 2014 Better Block project in Geelong, Victoria, Australia. You can download their full report here. 


The Geelong North Better Block was held in Labuan Square, 10am – 3pm Saturday March 15, 2014. The project engaged residents, community groups and business across Geelong to discuss change within the community and local urban areas over a seven week period.

The Better Block brought together community groups and residents to create an event by the community, for the community with activities to suit a range of ages and interests in an urban area in need of greater interaction and activation.

The day included many free activities such as business advice for emerging business to workshops on edible gardening, beekeeping and backyard chooks. The Labuan Art Space was a popular feature with numerous art activities including the making of two lantern types for the Mountain to Mouth walk (M~M2014) to be held locally in May.

From toddler, children’s and teenager’s activities to devonshire teas, craft stalls and live acoustic music the local community were able to access something for all ages. With a focus on health the local food swap, walking and cycling maps, free bike maintenance, and local fresh food and BBQ corn were a great success.

On the day, local councillor, Kylie Fisher was on hand to talk to locals and The Pulse local television film crew took footage of the event and conducted interviews with particpants for a future Channel 31 TV segment on local activities in Geelong.

The day was the culmination of a series of community engagement workshops and conversations, with support from nine community groups, twelve local businesses, two schools, five local groups and five council departments. With more than an estimated three hundred and twenty (320) participants on the day and eighty (80) volunteers creating the event the day was deemed a great success.

Volunteers commented on the fantastic community feeling on the day, how excited many of the children were to see so much happening in the local shopping area and the value of having free workshops and a local craft market available in the square.

Geelong North Better Block

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Events organised by Innate Ecology in 2013 with the Better Block co-founders included public lectures and workshops aimed at engaging and empowering local community to create a one day activation in their urban environment. This culminated in the Geelong Better Block, June 2013 strongly supported by Future Proofing Geelong and the City of Greater Geelong.


_To engage local community in discussion on what their shopping area needs _To facilitate local groups & residents in creating their own event _To support emerging craftmakers, musicians and business _To promote fresh and healthy food _To promote healthy lifestyles, walking and cycling _To empower residents to create positive change _To stimulate the Norlane and Geelong North community

The project is a Sustainable Living Festival Geelong 2014 event, coinciding with national and regional marketing of SLF2014.

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Prior to the event promotion ocurred across community radio, local and regional newspapers, community and neighbourhood centres, schools, cycling groups, Sustainable Living Festival 2014 media & events, City of Greater Geelong marketing, Geelong Sustainability Group events & marketing, Innate Ecology marketing and via social media including Facebook & Twitter.

On the day event promotion occurred across community radio, Innate Ecology marketing and via social media including facebook & twitter. Cr Kylie Fisher attended the day, Mayor Darryn Lyons, Cr Andy Richards and MP declined to attend. Mayor Darryn Lyons retweeted on the event. Channel 31 The Pulse TV filmed the event and interviews for later use on local televsion.

Outcome: The promotion of the event to the Geelong region, creating awareness of community led events in Geelong North and attracting visitors.


The process covered a five month period from late October 2013 through to late March 2014. Project proposal and initial funding agreement occurred in October and November 2013 with funding applications continuing throughout December and January 2014.

Early consultation with key stakeholders in the Geelong North area and key Geelong support groups ocurred in November and December 2013. Local Publicity in Geelong North local publication, ‘Northerly Aspects’ January issue provided information to residents on the event and the two scheduled community engagement workshops conducted locally. Community Engagement Workshops were held in January and February to define what was missing from the local shopping areas and what activities and support residents would like to see in their neighbourhood. Workshops were attended by twenty people and held at Urban Seed, Norlane with a meal provided at the end of the workshop. At the conclusion of the workshops a group of local residents formed a GNBB event team. GNBB event team met in February and March 2014 with inspiration via social media on the Geelong Better Block facebook page and twitter.

Local Council Coordination and event approval was provided by Innate Ecology and CoGG. Innate Ecology coordinated event plans, day schedules and volunteer listing, while CoGG coordinator liaised with council for event approvals, permits, insurance and with other departments.

Active Involvement

Volunteers at the event

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Estimated number of visitors at the event Three hundred and twenty (320)

Nine Local Community Groups/Social Enterprises Two & Five Inc. (Labuan Square); Cloverdale Community Centre: Rosewall Neighbourhood Centre; Diversitat; The Pulse 94.7FM Community Radio; Geelong West Neighbourhood House; Playgroup Geelong; Urban Seed; Northern Geelong Rental Housing Co-operative Ltd

Five Local Groups Cycling Geelong; Cloverdale chat group for Indigenous plants; M~M 2014 Area Representatives; Bellarine Ukulele flash mob; Not the Wolf (band)

Eight Local Businesses at Labuan Square Open at the Event Pharmacy, Post Office, Supermarket, Bottle’O, Two and Five, Envy Icecreamery, Gary’s Collectables and Men’s Jewellery, SMS Hairdressing

Twelve Geelong Businesses Gary’s Collectables and Men’s Jewellery & owner Shop 9 (Labuan Square); Envy Icecreamery (Labuan Square); Shop 5 Owner (Vacant Shop – Labuan Square); Shop 13 Owners (Vacant Shop – Labuan Square); De Grandi Cycling and Sport; Urban Planters; The Chicken Feeder; Hobo Country Bakers Coffee Van; Poppy & Clover; Vintage Mama; The Leather Man, Innate Ecology;

One School Geelong Technical Education Centre, East Geelong

Five City of Greater Geelong Departments COGG Future Proofing Geelong (funding contribution); CoGG Community Development (Liaison with council); COGG Enterprise Geelong (Business Hub); COGG Events Department (event approval); and COGG Youth Development (Youth Can Van)

Public Relations

Meetings held with Cr Kylie Fisher, Sam Smith, FPG, Cathy Walker CoGG, Northern Bay Technical College Principal and Trade Coordinator, GTEC Trade Teacher.

Communication with Cloverdale Community Centre, Norlane Neighbourhood Centre, Rosewall Neighbourhood Centre, Diversitat, Wathaurong Community, Geelong Mens Shed, Queenscliff Mens Shed, Victoria Police

Councilors /Politicians invited to the event:

Mayor Darryn Lyons (not available) (retweeted event tweets across two accounts on the day)

Cr Kylie Fisher (Corio Ward) Attended Cr Andy Richards (not available)

The Hon Richard Marles MP, Shadow Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, Member for Corio (not available)

Funding the Project

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Financial support was proposed for a five month period of coordination at a reduced cost of $8000 by Innate Ecology. Future Proofing Geelong committed $3000, with a further committment to assist with an application to council for the remaining funds. In addition City of Greater Geelong personnel were committed as support for the internal event coordination.

Due to changes with the council community funding process in late 2013, the remaining funding was difficult to obtain. The final outcome resulted in the City of Greater Geelong COGG funding non-profit Two and Five Inc. $1950 for event costs and coordination.

The remaining $3050 was unfunded. This became an additional probono contribution to the community project by Innate Ecology totalling $9795. While Innate Ecology supports community engagement and events this level of contribution by a small emerging business is unsustainable. Funding will need to be secured prior to project commencement in future.

Project Value

Innate Ecology

1. Event Co-ordination October 2013 to March 2014 by Including: Meetings, Community Engagement Workshops, Traders Coordination, Graphic Design, Marketing, Event Day, Event Report valued at: $14,580

2. Expenses (excluding travel costs) – $165

Total Innate Ecology valued at: $14,745

Community Volunteer Time

1. Volunteer participation at workshops and meetings: $2,100

2. Community event team: $3,375

3. Three vacant retail shops on day and storage: $1,500

4. Gardening workshops: $800

5. Musicians: $400

6. Volunteers on the day: $12,300

Total community volunteer time valued at: $20,475


1. GTEC street furniture and bicycle rack hire estimated value: $300

2. De Grandi bicycle repair kits valued at: $50

3. Marketing value estimated at: $10,000

Total other: $15,350

Total project estimated value (excl. council time and input): $45,570

Funding allocated from CoGG and Future Proofing Geelong

1. CoGG FPG Contribution to event coordination: $3,000

2. CoGG contribution to event contribution to Two & Five Inc: $1,950


The value of empowering community to create positive change in their own neighbourhood!

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About Innate Ecology We contribute to the evolution of healthy, livable communities, towns and cities based on equality, diversity, regional foods and services. Our work encompasses innovative strategy, design and research for the development of urban ecologies and settlements.

Contact Suzette Jackson, Director |


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