Con(Temporary) Place, Fawkner
One project that stands out as being particularly successful was our (Con)Tempory Place project in Fawkner. After conversations with several local business operators and residents, we found a very simple problem. There was nowhere around the Bonwick Street Shops for people to sit, to talk and to be in each other’s company. Discussions with Moreland City Council representatives revealed an apprehension about the nature of the suburb. A misreading of the Scanlon Foundation Social Cohesion Report (2013) had led Community Engagement Officers to believe that Fawkner ‘would not appreciate’ any additional funding spent on seating or community places provided. I set out to improve the flow of communication between residents and Council, and to demonstrate that even with modest investment, communities could activate under utilised common areas with respect and consideration.
With a $5000 investment from The City of Moreland, we recruited Fawkner Community House, Fawkner Library and Fawkner Leisure Centre, John Fawkner Secondary College, Mercy College, St Matthews Primary School, Sustainable Fawkner, and along with the generosity of local businesses and residents, we built a mall from a laneway. The two-week program included a BBQ and a market to showcase the work of local micro-businesses operating in the area by women working predominantly from home. For the first time, Reading Time was conducted outside the walls of the library, out in the sunshine; and families and friends enjoyed meals from the various small eateries in the street on communal tables and chairs.