This is a great little animated video about the role of green infrastructure in cities.

We can create an integrated network of green spaces which provides residents with beautiful streetscapes and public spaces whilst manageing water, reducing heat and providing habitat. Integrate the green through street trees, green roofs, gardens, and parks. Be flexible and think outside the turf grass oval.

Invest in Green Infrastructure is produced by the Landscape Institute – UK. It is aimed at inspiring local decision-makers and communities to make the most of their land, while helping wildlife to flourish, reducing flood risk, providing green open space for all, and delivering a wide range of economic, health and community benefits.

Find out more at landscapeinstitute.org/gi

Invest in Green Infrastructure from Room60 on Vimeo.

The Landscape Institute – ‘Investing Green Infrastructure’

Farmers Marketing

I thought I’d share with you an excerpt of a paper I wrote at uni in 2008 about the role farmers markets in community building, alongside some photos of mine from various farmers market adventures.

“People like to go in at a leisurely pace – they might stop for coffee and listen to the entertainment, there’s a real social component to it. And more than that, the appeal is that the vendor is actually selling products they’ve made or grown. People are more and more concerned with how things are made and at farmers’ markets; you can talk to the vendor and find out exactly what has gone into it. That’s important to people.”     (P. Wilkes of Alberta Agriculture Food and Rural Development in Dey, 2008)

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Food forms an integral part of the social, environmental and economic fabric of human society, and where our fare comes from matters just as much as what we do with it and how we share it with the people around us. With the spotlight firmly on ‘sustainability’ there has been a renewed passion for local and organic products to replace the unsustainable trafficking of goods over huge distances and the use of environmentally damaging chemicals and pesticides.  As any good chef will tell you, the foundation of any sensational meal is the quality of the ingredients, as celebrity chefs the world over promoting the use of locally sourced, organic and top quality ingredients, it is no wonder that consumer’s interest in sources of these products has grown substantially. Farmers markets provide an opportunity for urban dwellers to find locally grown, fresh and often organic produce, and enhance the local economy by providing a revenue stream for small farmers and supporting tourism (Tiemann, 2008) (Hinrichs, 2000) (Halweil, 2002). Can these casual meeting places also provide a space for the community to reconnect, both with each other and the source of their provisions? Could they be a source of social capital, and a community support structure?

Farmers markets, as used in this discussion, can be defined as any gathering of stalls in a temporary or semi-permanent arrangement (which is not open for the majority of the week) purveying products sourced from the surrounding region and so includes both fresh fruit/ vegetables and valued added, locally made, products such as jams, pickles and honey. This definition can also be extended to include collections of street food vendors, or any market adjacent permanent restaurants/cafes and even associated art and craft stalls/galleries.

The market structure dates back to Ancient Rome and Greece where these areas where just as much about purchasing supplies as they were spaces for informal association, social interaction and forums for political debate (Wilkins & Hill, 2006). Informal association, according to Hugh Mackay, is an important aspect of human society;

‘Humans are herd animals, and we cut ourselves off from the herd at our psychological peril…This is a society in which we have rediscovered the importance of the community… It’s a society in which we have worked out how to live like modern, urban and suburban villagers. We’re eating out more, as we recognise that grazing with the herd is an important step towards reconnecting with the herd; coffee shops and cafes have become meeting places for incidental as well as planned contact. We’re creating and using more communal space in the manner of a European plaza, the local park has become a kind of village green.’ (Mackay, 1999 p xxxIII)

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Parks and public spaces serve as a place to observe the positive aspects of public life and space,  develop civic pride, social contact, skills of association, acceptance of diversity, sense of freedom, and even common sense (with respect to aesthetic standards and public taste)(Tiemann, 2008). Markets can act as mediators, to introduce people to public spaces thereby raising their awareness, and perhaps leading to increased appreciation of location, identity and pride (Hinrichs, 2000) (Tiemann, 2008). Shared places promote feelings of ownership and hence occurrences of vandalism and antisocial behaviour decrease as people define an area as “theirs”, people are more considerate when consuming spaces they will visit again (Archer & Beale, 2004). As farmers markets only a occur one or two days per week the space may have other uses,  this encourages many different people to take ownership of a space and appreciate community’s complexity,  as the space is utilised by a mixture of different groups (Tiemann, 2008). In the context of planning; one of the Western Australian Planning Commissions  ‘Liveable Neighbourhoods’  objectives under ‘Community Design’ is to enhance the context of development , strengthen local character and identity and promote a sense of community (WAPC, 2000).

The social interaction between shoppers at farmers markets is much higher than at traditional shopping centres (Sommer, 1985), it is estimated that people have 10 times as many conversations at farmers markets than they do at supermarkets (Halweil, 2002).  These spaces aid in the creation of social capital; connecting and developing networks of trust and reciprocity across social groups, developing casual association, and acceptance of diversity (Gasteyer et al., 2008) Urban consumers are more likely to visit a farmers market for the atmosphere and entertainment rather than strictly to purchase food (Gasteyer et al., 2008) which leads to a relaxed and friendly atmosphere amongst shoppers.

Sense of community is not only an matter for patrons of the market but also for the producers. For the farmers the market gives them a chance for escape from their solitary work in the field, to develop informal relationships with others in the industry, and a chance to reconnect with the herd (Tiemann, 2008). This would not be the case if the market where to be open every day of the week, as the sense of novelty would be lost and it would just become part of the daily grind. The market atmosphere provides a forum for casual association between producers, networking opportunities, sharing of knowledge and may also breed a healthy competition for quality and presentation of produce (Hinrichs, 2000)(Tiemann, 2008). Having a casual opportunity to sell produce allows small scale producers to remain financially viable, adding an aspect of solidarity to the community’s economy (Sommer, 1985) (Gasteyer et al., 2008). Money spent at locally owned, run and produced products stays in the community for longer, thereby raising incomes and creating jobs (Halwiel, 2002). Local employment opportunities are another important aspect of the ‘liveable neighbourhoods’ concept (WAPC, 2000). Remaining economically viable also allows farmers to stay on the land and reduces the pressure to develop rural land for residential or industrial purposes, therefore preserving open space and vegetated landscapes providing clear environmental benefits especially in city environments (Mender & Goldsmith, 1996).

Alongside ‘supporting local farmers’ and ‘buying from the community’, ‘the connection with the Earth’s seasons’ was one of the most common responses to the question ‘ What is your favourite aspect of the market?’ in a survey of the Carrboro Farmers’ Market (North Carolina) in 2002 (Tiemann, 2008). The produce which is available at a farmers market changes from week to week as what is grown locally evolves with the season and so consumers stay in touch with the world outside the urban disconnected environment. This is an issue which speaks to Ebenezer Howard’s Garden City design that incorporated a glass-covered, open-air market in the centre of the city (Clarke, 2003). Garden cities where specifically designed to reduce the alienation of human society from nature and dissolve the divide between town and country (Clark, 2003).

While millions of farmers have vanished from the local landscape since the 1940’s, generations of consumers have completely lost touch with their food supply. Today’s average consumers have little knowledge of how or by whom their food was grown.’(Mender & Goldsmith, 1996 p426).

The face to face interactions and the security the comes from knowing the source of, and production method of the food you consume is lost when products are shipped over long distances and are separated from the landscape (Halweil, 2002). This does however limit the diversity of goods offered to consumers because only what can be produced locally (with restrictions of climate and water supply) and with the available infrastructure is available (Mender & Goldsmith, 1996) (Hinrichs, 2000). In a society accustomed to having all things available at all times this has the potential to become a restraining factor for farmers markets (Halweil, 2002) (Mender & Goldsmith, 1996). However, research conducted by Govindasamy et al. (1998, p4) found that the most common reasons for not shopping at farmers markets where: ‘no farmers’ market around’, ‘did not know about them’, ‘not convenient’, ‘no time’, and ‘supermarket is convenient and offers good prices’. Whilst the convenience of super market shopping was mentioned, no direct association between markets and lack of choice was cited.

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Pop up with a leg up?

I just read this article on WAToday about the uncertain future of a very popular food truck frequenting a Perth beach. Apparently a neighbour(s?) is complaining about a loss of amenity. The City of Freo are in support of food trucks and pop-up ventures generally and so I’m sure will be doing what they can to ease the concerns rather than tell the purveyor of delicious mexican treats to move along, plunging the quiet beach back into solitude.

Leighton Beach

I’ve been thinking recently about pop-ups and wonderful transient things like food trucks, they are such a fantastic placemaking tool but is it something that we, as planners and placemakers, can actively influence? How much interference is possible before it becomes contrived and forced. These things are so beautiful because they occur naturally.

In the situation at Lieghton Beach the major compliant is that the generator makes a buzzing noise (probably not the actual complaint but “get off my lawn!” isn’t a viable one). Perhaps the City of Fremantle could install some power access at the beach, with a key for access to be provided with the health/licensing permission as required? No more noise. Happy Mr Neighbour? How about some more rubbish bins? Just to make it as easy as possible to leave no trace.

For Local Government Placemakers a light touch is crucial. Too heavy-handed and you’ll get board entrepeneurs and residents complaining. Provide gentle encouragement, make it easy and open, be available. People want to perch on a ledge or sit on the grass, businesses want to be creative and push the boundaries, it’s what makes it fun.

Don’t plan for un-plannable things. That is what makes them so valuable to making great places.

Wild Inspiration Reading List: The Sacred Balance.

One of my very favourites for an inspiration-less day is David Suzuki’s The Sacred Balance. Where many environmental themed books are dull and saddening this is uplifting and joyful. Something I really need for time to time. I took away from this book of feeling of connection and conversely feeling like such a small speck in the universe, but in a really good way. When it all feels like too much, this is a good one to open at random and take in.

The Scared Balance

The Sacred Balance: Rediscovering Our Place in Nature

This special 10th anniversary edition re-examines our place in the natural world in light of the sweeping environmental changes and the recent advances in scientific knowledge.

Since its first publication, Sacred Balance has sold over 100,000 copies. In the meantime, global warming has become a major issue as glaciers and polar ice caps have begun to melt at an alarming rate, populations of polar bears have dwindled, the intensity of hurricanes and tsunamis has drastically increased, coral bleaching is occurring globally, and the earth has experienced its hottest years in over four centuries. At the same time, scientists have made significant discoveries about the current state of the Great Lakes and other ecosystems of the world; the science behind the mother/baby interaction and the relationship between deprivation of affection in childhood and serious illness in midlife; the workings of the brain, including its ability to create a narrative, anticipate the future, and order the past; and the biological underpinnings of religion, among other findings. In this new and extensively revised and amplified edition of his best-selling book, David Suzuki reflects on these changes and examines what they mean for our place in the world.

The basic message of this seminal, best-selling work remains the same: We are creatures of the earth, and as such, we are utterly dependent on its gifts of air, water, soil, and the energy of the sun. These elements are not just external factors; we take them into our bodies, where they are incorporated into our very essence. What replenishes the air, water, and soil and captures sunlight to vitalize the biosphere is the diverse web of all beings. The recently completed human genome project has revealed that all species are our biological kin, related to us through our evolutionary history. And it appears that our need for their company is programmed into our genome.

As social animals, we have an absolute need for love; without it, we suffer dire psychological and physical consequences. The strength of that love is reflected in healthy, vibrant families and communities supported by full employment, security, and justice and free of threats of genocide, terror, or war. Finally, we have spiritual needs, which are ultimately rooted in nature, the source of our inspiration and belonging. These are the real requirements of all humanity and should form the basis of any society aspiring to a truly sustainable future.

These truths remain. But the cataclysmic events of the last decade require that we rethink our behaviour and find a new way to live in balance with our surroundings. This book offers just such a new direction for us all.

David Suzuki donates his royalties from sales of The Sacred Balance to the David Suzuki Foundation.

FACET: Delivering the Customer Experience & Creating Ambassadors

WA’s Forum Advocating Cultural and Eco-Tourism, known by those in the know as FACET, is a great organisation of people brought together with a common interest in cultural, nature based and eco-tourism. They are a fantastic rescource for anyone working in ecotourism.

FACET logo

They often run events, workshops, forums, conferences and the like in Perth. I spotted one that is coming up that you might be interested in!

If you are customer service, a buisness owner or manager, involved in marketing or interested in creating incredible customer experiences then you may be interested in this.

Delivering the Customer Experience & Creating Ambassadors

Venue: WA Conservation Science Centre Building, Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW)

Date:Thursday, 1 August 2013, 1.00 to 5.00pm

 Repeat visitation, customer referrals, free advertising, business ambassadors.  These are all guaranteed when you and your staff focus on the customer’s experience.  It is important to make wise investment decisions about your marketing and to ensure that the experience you offer your customers gets tongues wagging in a good way.
FACET is delighted to offer this half day interactive workshop aimed at guiding participants through the development of an experience that will keep customers coming back and more importantly get them raving about you to their friends and family.

Claire Savage of Savagely Creative will open your eyes to how your customers may view your business and provide you with the tools to ensure that you engage them and keep them loyal to your business.
Claire has over 21 years experience in product development and marketing in the public and private sector.  She has a particular focus on the service industry and has plenty of experience delivering interactive training across Western Australia.
Don’t miss this opportunity to make every customer count!

One Billion Umbrellas

Ginko UmbrellaMeet Ginko, the umbrella that will change the world.

“Ginkgo is an innovative compact umbrella, re-designed from scratch and made entirely in just one recyclable material. It is stiff and flexible, able to absorb random impacts and windforce without breaking or bending, but also lightweight, colorful and warm to the touch. And 100% recyclable.”

Around the world more than 1 billion umbrellas are thrown out or lost every year, and you know why, some of them are so damn useless you wonder if it was created in a temperature controlled, completely sealed room and never tested in the real world. The guys at Ginko have done the math and the materials from all those umbrellas would be enough (by weight) to build 25 Eiffel Towers each year.

They have launched a crowd source campaign to get these gorgeous, sustainable, strong beauties in the hands of people like you and I all over the world, on indigogo.com (similar to kickstarter). Jump on a have a look! Leave a comment below if you are in Australia and interested in ordering as a group.

One of their stretch goals (if they get to $200,000) is to close the loop on their production, a cradle-to-cradle chain which would mean that all materials used in production can either be used in continuous cycle as the same product without losing their integrity or quality (and can be used over and over again instead of being “downcycled” into lesser products, ultimately becoming waste) or can be disposed of in any natural environment and decompose into the soil, providing food for small life forms without affecting the natural environment.

 

 

Lunchtime Twist – 45min Yoga in the Perth CBD

Very exciting news for Perth yogi’s. A new spot in the CBD offering regular lunchtime (and evening) yoga.

The Yoga Vine (Donna Buchanan) has just opened up at 140william – above the Perth Underground train station and opposite the entrance to the Aviary.

They are offering yoga at 12.15pm and 1.15pm for 45 minutes every day of the week and a wednesday evening class at 6pm (1 hour).

Classes are only $10 – bring cash and your own yoga mat.

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Kung Hei Fat Choi! Happy Chinese New Year!

Wishing you a wonderful, prosperous 2013 for you and your loved ones.

What have you go planned for this year? Is it the year of love, money, new projects, health?

Kung Hei Fat Choi (or Kung Hei Fat Choy) is roughly translated as “Congratulations and be prosperous, now give me a red envelope (filled with money)!”

Have a read about the year that’s predicted for you. Overall its not predicted to be a good year for us Fire Tigers, we are a bit incompatable with water you see, but never fear, I’ll show those black water snakes!

Remember when you are working out which sign you are that the new year starts in February, so if you are a January baby then your sign is the prevous years.

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year – The Big Picture (Click through to see the album)

On not dying whilst on holiday.

A huge part of travelling for me involves eating weird and wonderful things in strange and exotic locations. At home my tummy is not the most well behaved creature, often giving me troubles, which is an ongoing project to work out have to tame it. So far I think I’ve knuckled down a few obscure things that anger the beast including MSG (such a cliché!).

On holiday the last thing you want to spend time on is feeling sick. Ironically the tummy beast of mine is often far more behaved on holiday, lucky me!

Satay

I take a few precautions when travelling so I don’t have to worry so much, especially when you are trying something new or eating from far more fun and exciting food stalls etc.

Sickness prevention kit.

Number one is a really good probiotic to cultivate all the good bacteria. Lactoflora from Neways is the best one that I have found, it’s good for travelling, very effective and easy to transport. We take one each morning before breakfast to set ourselves up for the day. If you are in need of a good probiotic its obviously a great choice for daily use at home too.

Second, Travelan. Many may say that I’m over cautious but I think its worth it for the piece of mind and the freedom it grants you. Travelan is designed to reduce the risk of infection by Enterotoxigenic E. coli (ETEC), the most common cause of Travellers’ Diarrhoea. Take it just before you eat each meal, and it guards you against getting Bali/Delhi Belly etc. You can get it at any chemist.

In addition you should always “boil it, cook it, peel it” and wash your hands before eating (I carry wet wipes and that no water hand sanitiser stuff), don’t drink the tap water and avoid things like salad (washed in tap water) or ice from paces where they don’t tell you if it’s made with mineral water.

Travel “first aid kit” – paracetamol, ibuprofen, bandaids, donnatab/immodium (or equivalent), kwells/travacalm (or equivalent), travelan, lactoflora, hand sanitiser, wet wipes.

So it really doesn’t take much effort and you end up coming out with a better tummy than when you left!