New Years Resolution – Help build our community spirit

Happy New Year!

It feels a little forced. The merriment feels a little shallow.

We may have survived the Mayan Apocalypse but 2012 saw so many people subjected to tough austerity measures and mounting debts, as their country tried desperately to hold it together whilst the battered economy threatens to pull everything apart. So many people around the world are caught up in riots, wars or are simply struggling to survive.

 

Even here in Australia, that has remained resilient so far, there has been a change. I am seeing a lot more streets with empty shops and “for lease” signs as small businesses feel the impact.

 

In hard times it is easy to feel isolated and alone. It is a sign of the way our communities are structured that we can communicate with people thousands of miles away at the touch of a button yet we may not know the person who live 3 doors down.

 

Why do we no longer seek out the wisdom from the older member of our community?
Is it a bi-product of the meteoric speed that technology is changing how we communicate and creating a gap between those that embrace it and those that are struggling to keep up?

 

American artist and visionary Candy Chang has found a way to make a real positive contribution to her local community. She has embraced her love of her home in New Orleans and uses the public spaces she shares with her neighbours to serve as the catalyst.

 

Her tools are simple – stickers, stencils and chalk…

 

A chance to share your dreams (image by Candy Chang)

A chance to share your dreams (image by Candy Chang)

 

I find her ideas innovative and inspiring. I love the way she is encouraging dialogue and allowing people to share a part of who they really are.

 

Part of being in a community is being able to share what we have.
Its not so easy in our disconnected society… so how can you invite people to begin the process?

An invitation to share with the Neighbour Doorknob Hanger (image by Candy Chang)

An invitation to share with the Neighbour Doorknob Hanger (image by Candy Chang)

 

Front and Back of the Neighbour Doorknob Hanger created by Candy Chang to encourage neighbours to feel more open to sharing

Front and Back of the Neighbour Doorknob Hanger created by Candy Chang to encourage neighbours to feel more open to sharing

 

You know your neighbourhood and what’s missing.
Isn’t it important that the community can share what they feel would bring more to their space?
Think about your own neighbourhood – What would you like the vacant store front to become?

 

I wish this was... (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was… (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was a grocery (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was a grocery (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was a grocery (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was a grocery (image by Candy Chang)

I wish I was a bakery (image by Candy Chang)

I wish I was a bakery (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was a place to sit and talk (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was a place to sit and talk (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was a bike rack (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was a bike rack (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was repaired (image by Candy Chang)

I wish this was repaired (image by Candy Chang)

 

After experiencing the loss of someone very dear to her she channelled that painful emotion into a positive way to transform derelict spaces by allowing people in the local area to share their dreams with:
Before I die I want to __________

 

The Before - an abandoned house in New Orleans (image by Candy Chang)

The Before – an abandoned house in New Orleans (image by Candy Chang)

 

The After - freshly painted in blackboard paint and stenciled with "Before I Die" (image by Candy Chang)

The After – freshly painted in blackboard paint and stenciled with “Before I Die” (image by Candy Chang)

 

In turn her local community embraced this opportunity to interact with their surroundings and share hopes and aspirations with other people who are indirectly connected to them by sharing the same local space.

 

People share their dreams on the Before I Die wall (image by Candy Chang)

People share their dreams on the Before I Die wall (image by Candy Chang)

What would you write? (image by Candy Chang)

What would you write? (image by Candy Chang)

I love the honesty and freedom as people share their dreams on Before I Die (image by Candy Chang)

I love the honesty and freedom as people share their dreams on Before I Die (image by Candy Chang)

 

Our shared spaces can better reflect what matters to us as individuals and as a community. The people around us can not only help us make better places but lead better lives ” – Candy Chang

Last year my New Years Resolution was to not let life pass me by and be open to opportunities however simple or unexpected. This year I want to embrace the opportunity that helps to build our community spirit.

Together we can shape our own future and united our voice is no longer a whisper in the wind.

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2 Responses to New Years Resolution – Help build our community spirit

  • Oliver, what a great post! These photos and words are so inspiring. What awesome ideas! It’s strange, I too am feeling that something about building community spirit is important for me this year. So what can we create in Brisbane???

    • Oliver says:

      Thank you Nicola! My first step is going to be to make clients aware of local charities like Givit (www.givit.org.au) so that white goods and furniture that still have life in them have a chance of going to a new home and can help those in need. My next step is about being open to the opportunities as they present themselves. I would love you to get in touch if you see something great here in Bris-Vegas.

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