When park benches pop up in your local shopping area or you see a free market being advertised there’s a good chance it’s because of a group of volunteers from a local Town Team.
There are now more than 100 of these volunteer groups from Albany to Broome in WA as well as the eastern states and New Zealand, organising everything from festivals to community gardens.
Co-founder of the movement, entrepreneur Jimmy Murphy, says the group grew out of the State’s first town team, The Beaufort Street Network. It was started in 2017, by now State Housing and Local Government Minister John Carey who was a co-founder of the highly successful Beaufort Street Festival.
“Town Teams grew organically from there with individual groups of volunteers realising they could have an impact on improving their own communities and while those activities can be very different, we realised there was a need for an organising group that could provide support,” Jimmy says.
The Town Team Movement provides a link between Town Teams and works collaboratively with local governments to create resilient communities and better places, while recognising the independence of the individual groups within the movement.
Project volunteers are involved with everything from the creation of Australia’s first urban native bee village at West Perth, a community garden at Champion Lakes, creation of an Experience Nannup app, a nature play area in Doubleview, Inglenooks in Inglewood, the Subiaco Street Side Gallery, to Sunday afternoon closures of Oxford Street in Leederville, and Donnybrook’s Dunny Do Over.
As well as the host of place-making projects, volunteer groups have been responsible for events and activities across the State from the award-winning Inglewood on Beaufort Monday Night Markets to the Narembeen Street Festival.
Many of the projects involve arts and culture such as power pole painting in Doubleview, a Maker in Residence Program in Pinjarra, Dalyellup Big Chair, the Preston Valley Artisan Trail, and yarnbombing in Rivervale.
“All Town Team projects are geared towards making our communities more vibrant, welcoming places. Nobody better understands the needs of the area in which they live and work than its locals,” Jimmy says.
“There’s also a real sense of satisfaction that comes from being involved in a volunteer group helping to make our towns the kind of places we all want to live in.
“Sometimes nurturing connections within a community doesn’t need millions of dollars to get started.
“Many community building events are about encouraging people within the community to share their thoughts and ideas and to pull together.
“We’ve been involved in projects where scrap materials have been recycled to create street furniture and whole communities contribute to street beautification projects.
“We’re happy to talk to people who have thoughts about getting started with their own Town Team to do something to make their own area more liveable.
“It costs nothing to chat and at The Town Team Movement we have resources to get people started on their own Town Team journey.”
Jimmy says a current priority is extending activities for Town Teams in the Pilbara with its annual conference to be held in Port Hedland on August 18 and 19.
World renowned place makers Krista Nightengale from Better Block Foundation in the United States and David Engwicht from Creative Communities, who has helped build connected communities all over the world, will join State Housing and Local Government Minister John Carey as keynote speakers exploring how communities can be inspired through their own town teams.
“People like Krista, David and our own John Carey, have lived the experiences of building these successful communities and will be inspiring groups, particularly in the Pilbara, to help build places that can transform communities into successful, thriving, socially connected localities,” Jimmy says.
Many community groups and local and state government organisations have already signed up to attend.
Topics for the two days will include: kickstarting community-led leadership; building community resilience and place management; street prototyping and creative engagement techniques; community challenges, collaboration and the future role of government; activating in the heat and cooling the streets; business activation to grow and thrive post Covid-19; and connecting country and place.
The Town of Port Hedland is providing a travel subsidy of $300 off flights for attendees who are staying in Port Hedland at least one night and willing to contribute to the event in some fashion.
To find out more about Town Teams or the conference go to www.townteammovement.com.