It’s not often I venture outside the garden, but there’s a few things happening locally that impact on the garden, and definitely on its gardeners.
Firstly, over the river at the railway Artshub where three of our garden members are part of a group exhibition – Reiteration. The Opening (and yes, I ventured outside the garden) saw more than 100 people converge on this very loved building which has been renewed and repurposed. Go and look without the crowds. It’s on till February 28th – Fridays til Sundays 11am till 4pm – see too what’s been done to our station.
Secondly, there’s the Rotunda Park. The loss of the very much loved Rotunda within it to white ants and decay has prompted Mount Alexander Shire to undertake a survey and see what locals value about the park and how it might be designed/managed in the future. The Newstead Landcare Group have been caring for its surrounds, quite quietly, since 2000 when they first undertook bridal veil creeper and gorse control and then started planting out with local grasses, shrubs and trees, and later installed seating and interpretive signage. It’s quite a significant site, both environmentally and historically. Just see Dawn for more historical info – especially about the Major Mitchell Cairn, which her grandfather (the then school principal) designed and had built, and the pine plantation – she also has some fantastic photos of local use of the park in those early days. Dawn and Karen have been the key keepers of our Rotunda Park’s history. The fact that groups such as the Historical Society, Landcare, local walkers and visitors from afar have been able to share the space with the other (non-human) locals makes the space even more special. So, there’s a survey: https://www.facebook.com/NewsteadCommunity/posts/1028760737191352 – or you could contact Flynn at Pollen Design who is working with Council on the Plan. I won’t mention powerful owls here, but Natural Newstead might.
And there’s the local Mount Alexander Shire Urban Growth Plan. Is it any use looking at parks or buildings or road crossings or streetscapes/trees in isolation? Council are seeking feedback into their Urban Growth Plan. Newstead has grown a lot since the last iteration (and certainly since I moved here about 18 years ago). It would be good to have local input into how our community might grow, as it inevitably will (and as more people find out how special it is). Open spaces and places, like the community garden, Rotunda Park, railway station, Loddon River, school, pool, Newstead park, courthouse, recreation reserve, racecourse, preschool, bowls, RTC, croquet, Muckleford Forest, levee bank, cemetery, main street businesses – and all those other significant places that we use; that link us and that we relate to, that provide solace, engagement, interaction, connection and services (shade, shelter, pollination, healthy water, carbon capture, soil, food, etc.) are the lifeblood of a community, I reckon.
Growth – it’s a big question, not just for us: but the nation, and the world. Perhaps we might just try to choose, and pave, our own way locally? Maybe the Community Plan in 2013 did, or didn’t address it. Perhaps it’s an opportunity for us to think about the places and spaces and how we value them.
But enough with the philosophising. Dates for both these things are next week, 18th and 19th February.
Finally, on renewable energy, which certainly impacts on the garden, if not built infrastructure. On Monday, the State Government’s Energy Minister will visit Newstead to make an announcement.
The big deal isn’t really for Newstead, just yet, but it’s a big shift in thinking by the State government and Powercor. Renewable Newstead have signed a memorandum of understanding with Powercor as part of a project that the State government funded last year (for Newstead to develop a business case and plan for transitioning to 100% renewable energy) and it just might mean positive economic – and energy – benefits for our community in the future. Come along, and perhaps chat about all things outside of the garden, or inclusive.