St Kilda Connections

Like many people I thought it was a great idea to connect with my neighbours and start living in a community instead of just a street, but I hadn’t got around to it. With Neighbour Day approaching on March 29 I bit the bullet and dropped an invitation for morning tea in my apartment in the letterboxes of all the people (owners and renters) in my building.

Fourteen neighbours came along, many meeting for the first time. We haven’t looked back! Every month or so we have morning tea in different apartments, with 10 to 20 people coming each time. We now have 25 neighbours wanting to connect out of 42 units. We have a list of activities neighbours would like to do with each other and contact details – some are playing bridge or table tennis together and we are bringing in composting. What blew me away was that someone suggested the idea that if a neighbour was unwell they’d be happy to help with shopping or something, and 10 people put their names to that! I think many of us are more than happy to help our neighbours – we just need to know them first.

One talented neighbour made the corridor on her floor an art exhibition for neighbours to come and see her beautiful paintings. Carin said, “This was the first time I showed my neighbours my work and I was really surprised at the interest and connection that it generated. It definitely helped increase the feeling of community. I shall definitely do it again!”

My wonderful neighbour Pat, who I met when searching for the source of a flute playing, is sharing the connecting role with me for our building and it’s great having someone to bounce ideas around with and share the organising.

We are looking forward to creating more opportunities to connect  and share.

Irene Opper

St Kilda, Victoria

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Talented neighbour Carin, shows off her artwork
Irenes st Kilda
Dinner with the neighbours
Itrenes group
Shared morning teas

Opening a chapter on Finniss Street

My partner Michelle and I moved in to Finniss Street about 15 months ago.  It ended a period where both of us were moving around, and while not exactly ‘settling down’, I could see we would be around long enough to get involved in the ‘hood.

I had already spent some time learning how different communities work.  One of the lessons I picked up was the importance of long-term neighbourhood championing.

The common factor I saw time and time again, that made the difference between a connected, welcoming neighbourhood, and one of strangers, was a local (or a few locals), with years of history and a long-term commitment to building relationships in their neighbourhood – whether directly, or through events…. most of the time both.

This left me in a pickle.  I was keen to do the work, but I was not going to be around for long enough to play this role.  Michelle I are nowhere near that settled, with too many other things going on.  And a couple of years of events and gatherings just wasn’t going to cut it…

What this means is that before I leave, I need to inspire others in my street to take up the role.  And there is no time to lose!

So about a year ago now, with Neighbour Day (2014) approaching, I thought… you know, we need to approach this from another angle.  Yes, I will put up my hand to host a Neighbour Day event, bring together some neighbours and see what happens.  But the FIRST thing I will do… is invite my neighbours to help!

So the very first thing I did was flyer and doorknock my street saying… hey, we should do something for Neighbour Day… do you want to help?

Out of a hundred flyers, how many people do you think put up their hand to say they could chip in?

Go on, guess!

What do you reckon?

BE PREPARED TO BE SURPRISED - crop

FIFTEEN people responded!

I was amazed!  You have probably heard the same stories that I have… oh, nobody has any time… nobody values community… oh, nobody will ever help… it is impossible to find good people… well I can tell you now, it’s not true!  We just need to ask!

Now as you can probably guess, there was no need at all for 15 people to organise a simple picnic – but I did get contact details for 15 allies who could chip in (with chairs and barbeques and balloons and umbrellas and telling the neighbours they knew), 15 allies who more-or-less guaranteed they would turn up on the day (by far the most important part!), and 15 allies who I know care about our neighbourhood just like I do – perhaps more so!

Neighbour Day was a lovely afternoon… a little too warm, with a little too much wine, and way too much food – just what you would expect with 15 cooks, and just what the neighbourhood ordered!

My favourite part was the people who said “you know, I have been here for decades, I have always thought of doing something like this… I don’t know why I never have… and I had no idea – there are so many people here I have never even met before!”

So from that 15 I am sure will be a handful who when I leave will say, you know what, this community thing, it ain’t so bad, it ain’t so hard, and you know what, we should do something about it.

But I haven’t left Finniss Street just yet, and I still have a few stories to tell before I do. ; )

Neighbour Day (neighbourday.org) is the last Sunday in March, every year, and is a great entry point — the perfect excuse to connect with the people around you.  Neighbour Day 2015 is Sunday 29 March… it’s coming up soon and now is the perfect time to jump on board.

Sharing stories, updates and challenges of Street by Street groups

Hilton Street By Street Group (WA)

I love the feeling of being connected to my neighbours and local community and wanted to build stronger links with more of the people around where I live. For the last 11 years my neighbour and I have held a street Christmas party and invited neighbours to come along and share food and a few drinks. We have it on the lawn under a tree at the factory grounds across the road(with permission!) and it’s always been fun, a great sense of community and people leave saying … we should do more of this!

Finally, the Street by Street Project has provided an opportunity to do just that by providing a framework and ideas to build our group on.

Around July 2014 I started by asking a few people I knew to join a street litter cleanup and they invited others they knew. We had about four families come long, did a 45 minute cleanup and had a shared morning tea afterwards and we all enjoyed the morning. I canvassed the group about starting a SxS group and with good feedback and encouragement arranged another letter drop to the 160 houses around where we live (there is a distinct area bound by a few main roads).

???????????????????????????????People responded, someone offered their home, we bought food to share and I led the discussion about how we wanted to connect more with each other. We made a list, decided we wanted to share skills and talents too and arranged our first event-a progressive dinner! I used Doodle Poll to canvass the group for best dates, people offered their homes and courses and the event was a great success. Good food, a lovely Perth night to walk the streets, we checked out gardens, had drinks on balconies and had a great time.

We have another cleanup planned next week and have decided to meet monthly to chat over a cuppa and action the plans we made originally and think of new ideas too. We have communicated by email and I think once we start meeting regularly, then organising activities and events will be shared amongst the group.

If you are considering starting a group or want to chat, you can email me at mmaher@iinet.net.au

Happy connecting!

Maureen

Hilton Street By Street Group (WA)

I love the feeling of being connected to my neighbours and local community and the wanted to build stronger links with more of the people around where I live. For the last 11 years my neighbour and I have held a street Christmas party and invited neighbours to come along and share food and a few drinks. We have it on the lawn under a tree at the factory grounds across the road(with permission!) and It’s always been fun, a great sense of community and people leave saying… we should do more of this!

Finally, the Street by Street Project has provided an opportunity to do just that by providing a framework and ideas to build our group on.

Around July 2014 I started by asking a few people I knew to join a street litter cleanup and they invited others they knew. We had about 4 families come long , did a 45 minute cleanup and had a shred morning tea afterwards and we all enjoyed the morning. I canvassed the group about starting a SxS group and with good feedback and encouragement arranged another letter drop to the 160 houses around where we live (there is a distinct area bound by a few main roads).

???????????????????????????????People responded, someone offered their home, we bought food to share and I led the discussion about how we wanted to connect more with each other. We made a list, decided we wanted to share skills and talents too and arranged our first event-a progressive dinner! I used Doodle Poll to canvass the group for best dates, people offered their homes and courses and the event was a great success. Good food, a lovely Perth night to walk the streets, we checked out gardens, has drinks on balconies and had a great time.

We have another cleanup planned next week and have decided to meet monthly to chat over a cuppa and action the plans we made originally and think of new ideas too.  We have communicated by email and I think once we start meeting regularly, then organising activities and events will be shared amongst the group.

If you are considering starting a group or want to chat , you can email me at maureen@streetbystreet.org.au.

Happy connecting !

Maureen