Over the last eight years eighteen groups involving 155 households have participated in the Greener Neighbourhoods programme. Extensive Greener Neighbourhood stories tell of communities coming together to build better, environmentally lighter lifestyles, enduring friendships and innovative projects with lasting positive impacts.
After taking some time out to evaluate the Greener Neighbourhoods programme and are introducing a new structure for 2018. While staying true to its primary objectives to build community, reduce environmental impacts and increase resilience we have made some changes in response to feedback from participants and to align with Council’s commitment to support of community-led projects. The 2018 Greener Neighbourhoods programme is shifting from being a competition to offering a grant for community-led projects that reduce environmental impacts and build resilience. Also, after a successful trial of a whānau model in 2016 we are inviting both whānau and neighbourhood groups to take part.
Greener Neighbourhoods fosters and supports tangible work that directly reduces environmental impacts and increases resilience. Examples of this include:
These areas of focus have also shaped the Sustainable Communities programme for 2018 . Free/affordable services and activities are available to both Greener Neighbourhoods and the wider public, this includes No8 Wire Week, The Repair Cafe and a Community Garden Party series which will have its inaugural kick off in Autumn 2018.
Why Neighbourhood or Whānau groups?
Greener Neighbourhoods started out as ‘Greener Streets”, looking to connect together people to 'turn streets into neighbourhoods’. Groups often started not knowing each other, going on to build vibrant, resilient communities who work together to reduce their environmental impacts. The benefits of building place based communities are well proven - from increasing resilience and emergency preparedness to saving money through sharing resources, making your neighbourhood a safer place to live. Recognition of the benefits of building place based communities has led to initiatives such as Neighbours Day Aotearoa and the WREMO Civil Defence focus on Neighbourhood preparedness. As part of Greener Neighbourhoods, groups work to improve environmental impacts, with assistance to reduce waste, ensure homes are warm, dry and healthy and opportunities to share skills and resources.
In building resilient communities we also recognise the value and potential of whānau based communities - groups of people living in the same area (not necessarily the same street) who are already connected through a sense of being an ‘extended family’. This sense of family connectedness may be as relatives, or as a community connected through common purpose or interest such as being members of the same school, club or association. Greener Neighbourhoods provides an opportunity for a whānau group to strengthen ties while collectively work together to benefit their households and the wider community.
Becoming a Greener Neighbourhood
In 2018 both neighbourhood and whānau groups (of five or more households living in the same area) are invited to take part in the Greener Neighbourhoods programme to collectively work together on a project that fits our programme objectives.
Groups will be supported by the Sustainable Communities Coordinator and have access to Council expertise such as the Green Gardener, the Eco Home Advisor and the Waste Minimisation Officer. Groups can access funding to support a project that makes meaningful changes to the benefit of their community and the environment.
If you are interested in forming a Greener Neighbourhood group get in contact!
Benefits of participation for individuals and communities:
A full discussion of the benefits and outcomes of the preceeding competitions can be found in a report, Building Sustainable Communities: Kāpiti Coast’s Greenest Street competition. Here is a summary of the benefits that previous particiants have experienced:
Health and wellbeing. Healthy lifestyle changes can have positive effects on the physical wellbeing of participants (e.g. warmer homes, homegrown food, and active modes of transport such as walking and cycling). Improvements to the health of the natural environment, such as air and water quality and having quality natural spaces to enjoy, also impact on human health.
Sharing skills. By working collectively, participants expand the range of skills and abilities available to them, make more efficient use of their resources (including time and tools), and provide each other with support and encouragement.
Creating community resilience and social cohesion. Resilience can be hard to assess until a crisis arises, but evidence suggests that improved social networks and community involvement can make a crucial difference to our ability to cope in a crisis situation and may be a literal lifesaver.
Disaster preparedness. Against the backdrop of the Christchurch earthquake, local examples of strong communities faring better in the aftermath reinforce the benefits of well-functioning communities.
Wider community benefits. Examples from preceeding Greenest Street competitions include Wellington Road’s rat-trapping project and community composting facility; Rainbow Court’s community garden; Kakariki Street’s partnership with Chill-Ed, a local community education initiative; Alexander Road’s bid to remove polystyrene trays from local supermarkets; and Grange Park Ave and Kakariki Street’s community mulchers.
Less directly, the types of activities participants engage in, such as energy and water conservation, waste reduction and recycling, tree planting, composting, carpooling and food growing, have positive spillover effects for the district. They reduce the demand for natural resources, reduce pollution and enhance biodiversity.