When Wedderburn received a grant for street art, the initiative sparked a new community group and annual event for the small town – focusing on the area’s native birds.
The residents decided to feature their renowned local bird species in their street art, culminating in a renewed sense of connection within the community during COVID-19, and an appreciation for the town’s potential tourist assets.
“This area, with its woodland and open grassland, is endowed with many species of birds. Virtually a birdwatcher’s paradise,” says Ric Raftis, founder of the Wedderburn Flora and Fauna Group.
The ‘Wedderburn’s Native Birds’ theme for the street art project saw people from around the region on a mission to capture images of local flora and fauna. To facilitate this, Ric decided to set up a new Facebook group, which has now grown to 190 members – an impressive feat for the small town in a short timeframe. Ric believes that Facebook groups have an important part to play in reconnecting communities, although he believes they need to be combined with face-to-face contact as well.
“A number of the members were involved in organising a bush walk. This proved to be a wonderful event with a great community feel. Prior to the walks there was a Q&A session about flora, birds and photography, with everyone happy to share their knowledge,” Ric says.
It was subsequently decided to make this an annual event, as a way to raise awareness in the community of the huge number of birds and wildflowers in the area, and provide opportunities for people to develop their skills in leadership, photography and GPS knowledge. The group also hopes to build Wedderburn’s profile on Instagram with the hashtag #WedderburnVic.
Ric’s advice for fellow changemakers?
“Just do it. Don’t overthink the idea. Get it out there and in action. Don’t try and make a list of all the things that might go wrong. Things will go wrong anyway. Recognise this and be prepared to adjust things as you go.”
This story has been collected as part of Let’s Pivot online program supporting community leaders, organisations, and individuals to change their strategy without changing their vision. Let’s Pivot is being delivered from October 2020 to March 2021. Participation is free. All are invited to join in any way that suits, such as: subscribing to receive info-mailers, joining zoom discussions, and accessing digital resources and information tools from an online impact hub.
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