Innovation and social change are alive and well in the region of Bendigo, with over 100 locals attending Outside the Square: Connecting – taking place at La Trobe University during mid winter.

Connecting took a different angle to health issues, linking the health of people with the health of the environment then connecting to solutions that address both.

Instead of focusing on the overwhelming feelings that these issues can create, we focused on what we can do both as individuals and collectively in the community.

Interestingly participants of Connecting stated that their most important value-added connections often started over a cup of coffee!

We want to share with you how connections can add value to what you are doing to make a difference for your community’s health and environment.

Image caption: Left to Right: Andy Sloan, Jacky Vincent

Andy Sloan of Bendigo Health and GREATER attended Outside the Square Connecting; “for connections and opportunity to learn what’s happening in Bendigo.”

She is interested in identifying possible linkages to share her project with, and believes everything starts with a conversation.

Image caption: Left to Right: Karen Corr, Sonia Anthony

Sonia attended Connecting because she loves the way food, “connects community. I am hoping to meet new people who are also interested in food.”

We asked Sonia what are the three key ingredients to making change and we loved her food inspired response!

  1. It’s the gathering of ingredients
  2. It is the right type of ingredients—their texture, colour and taste
  3. It’s how you mix them together and how attractive and pleasurable the resulting dish is

We would like to introduce to you a few of the emerging community leaders who have initiatives that are transforming both the health of our community and our natural environment.

Image caption: Left to Right: Nicola Duncliff-Wells

Nicola leads a group called Active Travel and Healthy Kids. It is a group of passionate parents and teachers finding ways for kids to get to school walking or cycling.

Image caption: Sparrow Daley

“I’m passionate about foods and foraging—our backyards are full of foods and medicine. I am running workshops for people to learn how to forage in your own backyard.”

Image caption: Mohammed Khalaf

“I run a project for the Karen community to garden at Gravel Hill Community Garden and we also have school children who garden with us.”

Image Caption: The Connecting Opt-In station is getting lots of people signing up to join or find out more about community initiatives.

Taking the next step to make our community more connected for health of people and environment is something that we can all do.

Here are some of the ways you can take the next steps to build connections in your community, including some specific to the Bendigo region:

Mirawara Spring holiday program – Including Claire Dunn survival skills workshop, canoeing Dja Dja Wurrung cultural tour with Jida, rock-climbing course, mountain biking with Rocky Riders.  Contact: https://mirawara.org | Emmanuelle Dubuc | 0437 172 786 | [email protected]

Harcourt Organic Farm Alliance – Seeking new alliance members, plus friends of the farm to follow our progress and become potential customers for produce. Contact: Become an alliance member and Opt into Newsletter – friends of the farm

Connecting city dwellers to nature – a working group – Tours to visit inspiring environmental achievements across the District. Contact details: Peter Morison | 0418 557 143 | [email protected]

The Bendigo Regional Food Alliance – A group who aims to achieve a healthy, sustainable, local food system through enabling the community to grow, source, cook and share healthy local produce within the region Contact: Jen Alden | 0488 235 680 | [email protected]

GREATER – A movement, for people who value the health and wellbeing of themselves and others. Looking for nominations to become ambassadors for GREATER (yourself or others you recommend) Contact Details: Andrea Sloane | 03 5454 6579 [email protected]

Landcare – North Central Region – Landcare is a community-based movement to address local and landscape-scale issues by taking direct action through on-ground works, up-skilling volunteers and working in partnership with government agencies and other stakeholders. Contact Details: Tess Grieves, Regional Landcare Coordinator | 5440 1890 [email protected]

North Central Waterwatch – Waterwatch is a citizen science water monitoring program. It supports community volunteers to contribute to waterway and catchment management by building skills and knowledge and providing opportunities to get involved. Contact Details: Cass Davis, Regional Waterwatch Coordinator 5440 1863 | [email protected]

Creative Links – Golden City Support Services – Looking to link individuals with a disability to areas of their interest in their local area through volunteer mentors who may have similar interests or experience that they can share. If you would like to know more about being a volunteer mentor please contact us. Contact: John Willis | 03 5434 2777 | [email protected]

The Pioneer Paradise – Adult Playground and Wildlife Zoo – Creating a playground for adults and children in Bendigo, for health and wellbeing of people and families, and to have fun together, because each one of us has a little child inside of us. Contact: Robyn Barker | 0437 587 589 | [email protected]

The Growing Abundance Project – A Local Food social enterprise in Castlemaine and Low Food Miles Mount Alexander Guide Contact: http://www.growingabundance.org.au

Central Victorian Rural Women’s Network – A fun and exciting workshop being delivered on Saturday 19th August at Redesdale called “Simplify Your Life“. For further information and registration

Bike Bendigo – Supporting more people in bikes for everyday cycling. Be part of Bike Month in October Contact: https://www.facebook.com/BikeBendigo

Spring Gully Recreation Reserve Committee – looking for new members Contact: [email protected] | 0401 213 992

Heathcote Community House – Get involved with Heathcote Community Games and other events and activities Contact: http://www.heathcotecommunityhouse.org

Think Move Do – Seniors… Want to have some fun? Keeping you thinking, moving and doing the things you love. Contact: 0400 826 776

Bendigo Family Nature Club – Bring your kids or borrow some and come along to one of our events in the bush. Subscribe to email www.bendigofamilynatureclub.blogspot.com.au

Conservation Volunteers Australia – Looking to grow The Green Gym program in Bendigo for health and well-being—it might be growing food or a conservation project.  Contact: [email protected]

Bendigo Volunteer Resource Centre – Need volunteers? Contact: 5441 1404 or [email protected]

Wellsford Conservation Action Group – Get involved and make a submission to make the Wellsford into a National Park – just share that you want it to be a park. Submissions due 21 August Contact: [email protected]

Active Travel Healthy Kids Community Networks – A network of parents and teachers in and around Bendigo who are passionate about kids walking, scooting, riding, and catching the bus to school. Contact: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ActiveTravelHealthyKids

The Ironbark Gully Friends – Bendigo Community Forest Garden Contact: https://www.facebook.com/IronbarkGullyFriends

The Get Happier Project – for young people and their mental health Contact: http://www.gethappier.net

Synergize Hub Coworking Space – we have a new position open for a social entrepreneur who would like to apply for a scholarship to rent a desk for 12 months at no cost and get support in the process. Contact: https://www.synergizehub.com.au/social-enterprise-scholarship

Gulpili’s Australia – Indigenous Australian Tour Company that provides unique and authentic cultural tours, programs and services including collaborative initiatives in Boort. Contact: http://www.gulpililsaustralia.com.au

Bendigo Community Farmer’s Market – It’s a market by local people for local farmers, come and eat local food. Contact: http://www.bcfm.org.au

Petcarers Pets and People Matching Program – Matching people who are aged, isolated or have mental health issues, with animals who need a home—the benefits can be huge Contact: [email protected] | 1300 427 382

Murray Health Voices – Working towards health care that is designed around the needs of people. Register to be a Health Voice in your community http://www.murrayphn.org.au/health-voices

Sustainable Solutions from Leon and Jo – Our passion is a total review of how we relate to soil and shelter. We are working on two projects. The first is a farming regime that can resuscitate and nourish the soil and it’s subterranean eco-systems and we have invented machinery to make this possible. It is completely organic requiring no transported inputs. This method is easily capable of using all excessive CO2 so we can return to 350ppm in several decades. The second project is a building system that is flexible, solid, beautiful, and can be relocated without trucks and cranes! Move house on a tandem trailer and eliminate years of wasted money on rent or mortgages and have a life! We are happy to provide more detail to anyone who is interested. Contact: [email protected]

At Make A Change we foster connections between people and projects. We want to thank everyone who participated at Outside the Square: Connecting Thursday 27th June 2017. Stay in touch and let us know how your connections are making a change.

This initiative is part of Greater Bendigo’s Curriculum for Change: a series of discussions and events throughout 2017, underlining how each and everyone of us, can play a part in creating the future we want. Sign up to our e-news to stay in the loop, receive updates and direct event invitations!