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Southbank Sustainability Group

03 Mar 2020

Southbank Sustainability Group Image

Action and positive momentum

February might be a short month but this year it was a big month for sustainability action and landmarks. And March seems to be following in that same trajectory.

Apart from a myriad of activities that the Sustainable Living Festival brought us - re-energising, expanding knowledge and motivating people in all things climate change and sustainability - we saw our council take an important step, becoming a global leader by turning its climate and biodiversity emergency declaration into an action plan with clear priority areas.

We also enjoyed many key speakers and talks on the issue at the National Climate Emergency Summit on February 14 and 15 (check the website for podcasts of talks), attracting people from across Australia to Melbourne Town Hall. While our group had the opportunity to participate in these activities, we also got to move the dial on a few Southbank-specific actions.

Last month, we met with council regarding the exact location of the upcoming communal composting hub our group will be delivering at Boyd, ironing out details to make this a reality for residents as soon as possible. While there are some more details to sort out, we are hoping that we’ll be launching the composting hub in late March. If you’d like to be involved or want to know more about this project, reach out on email or Facebook.

We were also present on February 18 for council’s Future of Melbourne Committee (FMC) meeting, making a submission in support of its action plan and the 10 priority areas. Among other things, this plan proposed the net zero emissions goal be brought forward by 10 years to 2040, included a push for council and businesses to transition out of fossil fuels into renewable energy and bold advocacy for greater climate action. Some of our recommendations, like the involvement of Traditional Owners into biodiversity restoration, will apparently be included in the more detailed action plan to follow. The evening’s highlight was the shift in perception and thinking by our councillors on climate change. Following this summer’s devastating bushfires, being face-to-face with climate change’s effects has shifted the mindsets of our councillors and the broader community. Now, finally, more people are joining the conversation and agree that immediate action is necessary.

On Saturday, February 22, Southbankers of all backgrounds came to Boyd for our plants giveaway, while giving a second chance in life to food-producing plants brought over from Melbourne Town Hall’s recent display. Two hundred vegie, leafy green, herb, and flower plants earmarked for composting found their way to our group and then to new homes across Southbank. Eighty per cent of plants were gone in just 15 minutes with all plants gone in just 35 minutes, demonstrating Southbankers’ desire for food-producing plants. The best part was seeing many conversations started over the plants, neighbours connecting, kids learning about plants and people leaving with big smiles on their faces and new plants in their arms. Thanks to one of our longstanding members, Jenny King, some plants made it to North Melbourne’s River Nile School, helping women with an asylum seeker or refugee background instantly grow their own food on their new rooftop garden.

A big “thank you” goes to Boyd Community Hub officer Anita Paganoni for reaching out to us straight away to take in the plants. Many thanks to horticultural asset supervisor Sam Davis, head gardener Ryan Brown and assistant gardener Luke Dugan from the City of Melbourne’s parks and gardens maintenance contractor Serco for organising the delivery. You have made many locals very happy! We will stay in contact with these wonderful people so that Southbank is included in the next round of plants.

On February 29, we delivered the first of six community educational days, A Melbourne Practical Guide to Zero Waste Living. It was greatly received by the community, with all 55 seats sold and a very excited and receptive crowd on the day. They took home plenty of information on where to shop package-free and how to reduce waste output through easy, small changes. Email us if you missed it but want to receive the Resources Pack.

Coming up in March:

Apart from our scheduled meet-ups on Saturday March 7 and 21 at 10am (Boyd foyer) …

March 21: Southbank Residents’ Association’s Community Day & Boyd Park Opening. Southbank Sustainability Group (SSG) will be present with an information stall, where we might have some seedlings and upcycled goodies for you to take home. We’ll also give a 30-minute talk in the Assembly Hall.

March 23: Federal Climate Change Bill. Independent MP Zali Steggall will introduce a Private Member’s Bill to parliament and call for a vote. If passed, this Bill will enable Australia to make an immediate, positive, and nationally supported response to the risks, challenges, and opportunities of climate change. Keeping the momentum up from our council’s action plan, this is an opportunity to spill that passion over and push Federal government to adopt a national framework for climate change adaptation and mitigation, with more transparent monitoring, reporting, and accountability on emissions, a fair economic transition, and an independent Climate Change Commission formed. Showing that many Australians support this can be the difference between the Bill passing or staying in debate for years, wasting valuable time. It’s time we moved past making our species’ survival a partisan, political issue and get on with it. 56,000 people already added their voices, signing in support. To see the Bill and add your voice, go to climateactnow.com.au

March 25: Private tour of the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG). As part of our Melbourne Award win, we’ll get a private tour of the MCG and find out about their sustainability practices. This is only available to our members. You can still join the group and join the tour.

About the group: A solutions-focused group of Southbank residents working to bring positive change in sustainability practices and education to our neighborhood, while building a wonderful community of like-minded people. Environment Melbourne Award winner 2019 •

Artemis Pattichi

Southbank Sustainability Group

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