Southbank of your imagination

Southbank of your imagination
Mary Kay Rauma

What would a Southbank of your imagination look like?

Maybe it would have streets that value pedestrian safety over traffic? Perhaps cars would drive slower, mindful that they are passing through a neighbourhood.

Or, perhaps this Southbank of your imagination wouldn’t have trucks carrying animals, hay, petrol, and jet fuel detouring through its heart.

How about community gardens filling blank spaces aside footpaths, instead of crushed rock?

Myself and 16 other community members who live or work in Southbank pondered this question and more through Imagination in Southbank – a collaborative experiment to generate achievable goals that create belonging and a more regenerative future for our community.

This project, inspired by successful models in the UK and USA, is the first of its kind in Australia and was a collaboration of Centre for Public Impact, the City of Melbourne and Hinterland.

Participants were selected from an open application process and comprised a fair cross section of Southbank’s demographics, representation from groups already working towards the project’s goals and three City of Melbourne employees, one being our Southbank Neighbourhood Partner, Ash Lee.

Participants volunteered their time, rolled up their sleeves and dug deep for five eight-hour days to imagine possibilities addressing two questions:

  • How do we improve a sense of belonging in Southbank?
  • How do we respond to a changing climate and stay connected to nature in the midst of urban density?

Leaders took us through exercises, journaling, conversations, brainstorming, and group collaboration. We identified what we believe are Southbank’s core values, encompassing everything from diversity and inclusion to climate and sustainability, and then imagined a future we would wish for future generations.

Remember those ideas I mentioned earlier? We took them bigger.

What if Southbank was a car-less post code? Streets became green and devoted to public spaces.

What if our entire community ran off batteries fed by solar panels affixed to every building rooftop? Perhaps balconies could be converted into container vegetable gardens and produce shared at co-op markets throughout the neighbourhood.

Then we put our proverbial imaginative feet back on the ground and got to work boiling down big ideas into achievable ones. One of our “teachers” – author Jon Alexander (Citizens: Why the Key to Fixing Everything is All of Us) – shared, when you’re overwhelmed with how to change something, start with what’s strong, not wrong.

My colleagues from the workshop and I are working on initiatives that build upon Southbank’s strengths, making connections and laying the groundwork to turn glimmers of imagination into reality.

Stay tuned as this is just the beginning of Imagination in Southbank.

For more information:


Upcoming Southbank3006 events

A Walking Tour of the Birrarung Marr: By Koorie Heritage Trust for Southbank3006 members. Spaces are limited for this free event. Sunday, November 26 11am to noon.

A Very Merry Friend-mas: This is a free community event for all Southbankers that is sure to get you in the holiday spirit. There will be live music, face painting, kids’ crafts, pet parade, prizes, food trucks and so much more. Saturday, December 9, 11am to 3pm. •

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