Updated: Nov 1, 2018
When dealing with government processes that seem to put plans ahead of people, I have sometimes heard Landcare people protesting: 'But it's all about the people!' To get things done in a community, you have to work with and through people, not impose your good ideas on them. This is something we need to remind our friends in government from time to time.
LVI Council member Sandy Mackenzie was at the Drought Summit recently, saying it again - Landcare strengthens communities and makes them more resilient in the face of droughts, and floods, and fire. A small but sustained investment in Landcare groups builds communities where people look after each other. Looking after something bigger than yourself - the physical place you live in - goes hand-in-hand with looking after the social world you share. We have to keep saying this: connect to the people, work with the community.
We can also learn from each other how to do this difficult work. There's an art and a science in working in community. 'The community' is never a single entity: it's different types of people, often with competing interests, who nevertheless hold together around some common purposes and values.
And a community is never a formed thing; it's always working out how it can survive and prosper. Landcare groups are in the middle of these networks and differences, creating the events and projects where people forge strong relationships. There's usually an environmental purpose, but as much as anything else, people really appreciate the chance to have a good time with the people they live alongside.
Newham and District Landcare have put food and their local primary school at the centre of their environmental efforts. As a result, they have done a lot of environmental work and strengthened their community. Here is Penny Roberts talking about what they have done:
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