I have been thinking about things that make or break community spirit. I believe that community planning is one of the key things that council can “make or break”.
Let’s stop for a moment to think of the volunteers re-energising and driving progress associations and township committees. If you live, interact or visit a community where one of these groups is active you can probably see what it looks like. Communities that are embracing the challenge of some form of community planning. These communities have made the connection. They have openly declared they need not wait for someone else to solve their problems or to achieve their aspirations.
So can council be doing more to support these types communities? Yes. The first step is to recognise the importance of the community planning process and second, give the community-identified priorities the time, focus and investment they deserve. Not just a “pat on the back, isn’t it nice they put this information together” type of acknowledgement.
I see this happenning, and I believe council has some way to go to ensure the communities that volunteer (often tirelessly) in these planning processes are rewarded with outcomes as a result of their efforts. It is reassuring that the recent draft of the City of Greater Bendigo Rural Communities Strategy identifies the need to formalise and strengthen council’s commitment in this space.
Empowered communities wait for no cavalry.
Empowered communities wait for no cavalry. As Chair of Community Leadership Loddon Murray, I speak and write about this often. Recently I put together my top five reasons why communities and leaders should not wait for the proverbial cavalry, or knight in shining armour. The reasons are simple:
This is spirit building. I know, I have been part of such an important process in my own town of Axedale. As an Eppalock Ward candidate in the October election for the new Greater Bendigo council, I recognise and have genuine first hand experience of the power of communities that are given wings to fly. If elected, I will strive to grow the wings of our communities, because if we don’t I fear that the looming rate-capping environment will crush the spirit of many communities. They work so hard to identify, connect, advocate and implement. They are key to going beyond roads, rates and rubbish. Our communities need support to make limited resources go a lot further, let’s respect what they do for our region and understand how elected leaders can remove the need for a cavalry.
COMMUNITY. INTEGRITY. ACTION.
Yvonne Wrigglesworth is a Councillor in the Eppalock Ward, City of Greater Bendigo Council.