Groups with a sustainability focus


Transition Towns, sprinkled around Australia and the world, support the regional transition from oil dependency to local resilience. They act as catalysts in communities. They focus on the positive – on ideas, solutions and action strategies from and for the community. They link a community with local businesses, government and other key industries. They bring people together with a common goal of doing something significant and positive about climate change and peak oil.

They empower people by: positive visioning, helping people access good information, trusting them to make good decisions, being inclusive and open, sharing and networking, building resilience, addressing both inner and outer transition (not just the hands on things we need to do, but also the world views and belief systems we carry with us), enabling and supporting people to do what they are passionate about, decentralised organisation where everyone is empowered and decisions are made at appropriate levels.

Things Transition Towns do:

  • Organise working bees to set up food gardens
  • Car pool
  • School walking buses
  • Start food co-ops
  • Seed save
  • Care for neighbours
  • Hold street parties
  • Welcome people to the neighbourhood
  • Plant food trees on public land
  • Set up community compost centres
  • Community supported agriculture
  • Rain water tank bulk buys
  • Solar and wind energy bulk buys
  • Electric bike bulk buys
  • Dried organic food bulk buys
  • Publish ‘buy local’ guides
  • Run soil workshops
  • Set up Transition sections in public libraries
  • Run free film nights
  • Support programs like walk against warming
  • Build eco-villages
  • Hold creative writing workshops
  • Help neighbours build things
  • Get invited onto regional planning groups
  • Cooking workshops
  • Hold swap days – for clothes, tools, & materials
  • Recycle in their communities
  • Work with government to change legislation
  • Work with existing groups in their communities
  • Create Energy Descent Action Plans
  • Celebrate harvests, have parties
  • Contribute to the international Transition Network
  • Network, workshop and inspire each other
  • Teach others how to do it – great ideas for sustainability projects


Ideas for sustainable apartment buildings

Smartblocks – website to show you how to save power and money in apartment blocks. Sustainable steps to take inside your home –


Streetfilms has lots of wonderful examples of people power changing the way we promote walking, bike riding and public spaces.



RipeNearMe – A free website for sharing the food you grow and connecting with others within your community.  Founded in 2012 by two foodies, Alistair Martin and Helena Martin, in Adelaide, aiming to add variety to the food they grow and eat, reducing food waste, improving people’s quality of life and health. They envisioned an edible urban landscape, overflowing with food for all; putting food back in the hands of people. The website creates a platform for growers to connect with the community through the food they each grow themselves. You could post food that your grow yourselves and swap, sell or give away your goods.


Treasure Island is an area at the tip in Mt Nebo, a town just outside of Brisbane, with shelves for locals to put anything that someone else might be able to use. As there is no rubbish collection to the area, every resident uses the tip and most have found something weird or wonderful at Treasure Island. In fact, one now happily married couple found each other there!


Street Harvest – “In 2009 I undertook the ‘Street Harvest’ pilot project in Wodonga, Victoria. It grew out of a passion for transforming the local food system into one that is sustainable and strong. With seed funding provided by the City of Wodonga in partnership with VicHealth the project built community capacity and improved food security for Wodonga residents by distributing excess fruit and vegetables, harvested from residential gardens, to local residents and emergency food relief agencies. Home grown produce was redistributed by neighbours harvesting and swapping produce, emergency relief agencies supplying food parcels and community agencies supplying emergency meals. Engaging volunteers and partner agencies to map, harvest, process and distribute locally grown produce allowed the residents of Wodonga to make a positive contribution to the overall health of their community and improve the food security of those residents ‘at risk’ in the local community whilst delivering environmental benefits.” Catherine Byrne Street Harvest  Contact Catherine at to request a toolkit on how to develop Street Harvest in your area.


Sustainability and community building

Ecoburbia and Hulbert Street

  • ecoburbiaEcoburbia is many things – a housing development, a community group and a small business involved in sustainable education. Ecoburbia’s roots come from the experience of Shani Graham and Tim Darby who lived in Hulbert Street South Fremantle as they set out to make their lives, and the lives of our neighbours and community more sustainable.

Shani and Tim became facilitators of a program called Living Smart, an action based program based around reducing participants environmental footprint in the areas of power, water, transport, waste, and gardening. It also covers living simply, healthy home and you, and community. Community is viewed as an integral part of sustainability.

Their first course in Hulbert Street attracted over 30 residents, and things snowballed from there. A street skateboard ramp was the first big achievement, followed by weekly afternoon teas, verge gardening days, a co owned pizza oven and cargo bike, a street skills and resource register, a large guerilla garden, over 50% of the street installing solar panels, monthly sustainability movie nights out on the road, yearly garage sales . . . . . the list goes on.

Before long the garage sales had become the Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta. In it’s final year (2012) 7,500 people attended. The Fiesta was not just about stalls, food, fun and community, but with two open homes and five open food and native gardens, it really taught people about how they could embed sustainable principles and actions in their own lives by seeing real life examples.

Shani says that while it may be difficult to measure “sustainability” success in terms of what happened in Hulbert Street, there is no doubt a strong and resilient community has eventuated:

…One day things might get harder in our world, our country, our community and our little street – unemployment, food availability, climate changes, water shortages, power cuts, social instability, petrol prices changing our transport options. We all fear these things, and we wonder how we will cope. We have to work together to become more resilient.  And I know that the residents of Hulbert Street will be in a better position than many. They know each other, trust each other and have worked together. Community is sustainability after all.

Shani Graham and Tim Darby  Ecoburbia and Sandsculpturewa



“The Sumner Estate in Northcote, Melbourne, was lucky enough to be involved in Sustainability Street Program which began in 2006. Still today our community is very connected: – playgroup hosted at homes using a roster basis. Playgroup is one of the strong foundations of our neighbourhood and has been going for over 15 years. The connections that are made while our children are pre-schoolers continue once they start school. A group meeting in such a way on a weekly basis provides a great place to discuss community news and ideas. – events; Christmas carols, brunch in the park, movie nights in the park, Sumner Samba – email network – this has proven a good tool for ‘freecycling’, sharing resources and ideas, asking for advice, passing on tips about local services and advertising community events.

– Sharing shed – there is a shed in front of one of the houses where people can leave surplus produce and books, games, dvds, cds, puzzles etc that they want to give to a new home. The area recently became a 40km/h which one councillor said was unheard of without significant monitoring of speed in the area. This was because we could galvanise the community quickly. We are currently involved in a drive with your heart campaign which includes community decorated bollards, as well as regenerating the local parklands. We were involved in a very successful replacement of the local playground.” Zoe Austin-Crowe


The Lemon Tree ProjectCreating a place in every street for neighbours to congregate and share.

Lets face it, we don’t all have room for a lemon tree in our backyards and why should we need to when we have so much available space on our nature strips and verges. Lemon trees are versatile and abundant and lemons are almost infinitely useful. Then plant mandarins and oranges…