Two years ago, Kate Leslie from Transition Hobsons Bay mentioned a US based environmental movement called Global Earth Exchange. Knowing that I was anxious to see the Jack Madigan Reserve cleaned up, Kate suggested that the Global Earth Exchange’s aim of honouring damaged places might suit a community activity at the reserve. I was happy to coordinate that activity and so we organised an event to recognize the potential for the Jack Madigan Reserve to be remediated and made safe and beautiful.
And wasn’t that potential true! It’s wonderful to see the Reserve transformed from a fenced off polluted area to this piece of recreational artwork which recognizes the history of the site.
But back to our action 2 years ago on 22 June 2013. Many people pitched in. We designed a survey which we letter boxed to 700 households in the area. We door knocked and chatted to local people. We put up a Facebook page with photos of the fenced off reserve and community comments. We approached the Council. We talked to the media. We researched the Reserve’s history, including the various environmental audits that had been conducted on the site. We tracked down Jack Madigan’s family and invited them to our event.
We found that many people in the community, like me, were concerned about the Reserve. They were worried about the contamination and possible pollution of surrounding land and air, about the site being unused, about the loss of a public space and about THAT fence which had surrounded the Reserve for nearly a decade. When 70 people gathered at the Reserve on Global Earth Exchange Day, we hung a glittering sign and art work from the fence and threaded ribbons and flowers through it. Mark Fawcett rewrote words to This Land is Your Land, and, like today, the choir sang – and thanks to Mark for updating the song to reflect the changes to this land. Our event in 2013 even reached a world-wide audience, as the Global Earth Exchange website carried news of groups’ activities all over the world.
We can’t claim that our community action resulted in Angela’s announcement on that day that the Council had budgeted for the remediation, but we believe our action did alert Council to the strength of feeling in the community. This interest in the Reserve also resulted in community feed-in to a consultation process towards the beautiful design you see here today – and many thanks to Council officers for listening to that feedback.
There are many people to thank in the community. Transition Hobsons Bay, members of the Newport Community Choir, community members who attended design consultations, neighbours of the Reserve. And not excluding the ward councillors who are, of course, also members of the community. I hope, like me, the local community is pleased with the outcome and will come together to share the Reserve and enjoy it into the future.
For more information: http://www.hobsonsbay.vic.gov.au/Council/Major_projects/Parks_and_foreshore_projects/Jack_Madigan_Reserve/Jack_Madigan_Reserve_Background