'Greener Neighbourhoods' has lift off!
The first round of Greener Neighbourhoods got underway on Sunday with past and present participants keener than ever to share ideas and grow more resilient communities.
A round of introductions kicked things off as participants shared their names and hopes for the competition. There was a common desire to get to know neighbours better and engage on a meaningful level.
“One woman highlighted the potential benefits when she told the group she was hearing-impaired and not as able as she used to be,” Council’s Sustainable Communities Coordinator Stacey Gasson says. “She knew she would need help from others in case of a civil defence emergency and wanted to know those people before then.”
There was also a keen interest in exploring ways to live a more sustainable life and ideas for combining forces to do so. These included stream restoration, community land development, a beach clean, large scale composting, gardening bees and workshops to learn more about fruit tree pruning.
Embracing the spirit of neighbourhoods, all groups in this round (except Toroa Rd) are made up of several streets encircling a block: Tilley/Tarawa/Smith/Porter in Paekākāriki, Ocean/Wellington/The Parade in Paekākāriki and Matai/Fincham/Gavin in Raumati Beach.
Past participants in the Greenest Neighbourhood competition confirmed the hopes of the new participants as they discussed the on-going effect it has had on their lives.
Vicky Noon from Ames Street spoke about how their neighbourhood has changed and the way the Greenest Neighbourhood principles live on as they continue with their various projects, get-togethers and just generally being neighbours who know and help each other.
Simon Calcinai from Waimeha Lagoon said his neighbourhood was a different place since they took part. The group recently gained permission for the first stage of a community orchard, drawing 90 local residents to the planting.
Councillor Diane Amundsen welcomed everyone on behalf of the Mayor, noting that 109 households have taken part in versions of the Greener Neighbourhoods project since 2010.
“The emphasis on building community, increasing resilience and reducing environmental impact has proven to be a tried-and-true combination. Time and again, groups have surprised support staff with the ambition and impact of their projects. Stories of the on-going effects continue to filter back and are spreading beyond the district,” she says.
“Even the act of getting together to discuss taking part in the project means your neighbourhoods will never be the same again - for some of you it will be the first time you have ever spoken to or even seen some of your neighbours and now you know each other’s names.”
The Greener Neighbourhoods project is an eight-month initiative in which groups of five or more households get together to explore ways of building community, increasing resilience and reducing their environmental impact, with the support and assistance of Council staff. Unlike previous versions – Kāpiti Coast’s Greenest Street and Kāpiti Coast’s Greenest Neighbourhood – it is not a competition.