Goulburn Mulwaree Community Sustainability Hub

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General Introduction

The Community Sustainability Hub, under the banner of “Sustainable Goulburn Mulwaree”, is designed to bring the community together and give it agency so it is able to respond swiftly to the changing climate and social conditions, identified below:

  • Degraded health of the environment
  • Degraded state of the economy
  • Poor community health
  • Work with the First Nations Peoples in the CSH to learn from their knowledge

The CSH is intended to drive a transition of Goulburn Mulwaree's to be a cohesive and sustainable community, supported by a circular economy. This transition is to be informed and guided by plans at three levels:

  • Federal
  • State
  • Local

The Goulburn Mulwaree CSH is working with its partners to build a network of across SE NSW Network, including:

  • First Nations People
  • Community Groups
  • Tertiary Institutions
  • Sustainable Farming Support and research groups
  • Local Council
  • Businesses

The project builds on its work in establishing a regenerative agriculture group and building two sustainable gardens to mitigate flooding .

Main Insights on/for Sustainable Just Cities

The program and project(s) were initiated to counter climate and community issues, the first impacting the second. An unprepared community is at risk of falling into chaos and worse, due to its lack of cohesion and the lack of a plan on how to and manage the myriad challenges that it would face. The program is informed by the widely known planning maxim: “Hope for the best whilst planning for the worst".

The program was formed to address the composition of the community, its geographic situation, its economic structure and its political realities.

The program has project launched the sustainable farming group, that has initiated a successful soil rehabilitation project and that ran a very successful sustainable farming conference. This raised the profile of the farming group but the conservative character of the city and its farmers, limit what can be achieved. The program also brought agriculture research groups, farmer groups, commercial agriculture services groups together and they are important constituents of the Community Sustainability Hub, together with the state-run “Landcare” group.

However, the danger is that groups can be unduly influenced by political and economic interests and hold up progress of the CSH. There was a lack of buy-in from the likes of:

  • Local Government
  • Retailers of agricultural chemicals
  • Existing community groups, despite significant efforts to get them on-board
  • Low levels of community interest

Suggested Key Readings & Links

Due to the scope of the program, including elements where the instigator Bob Philipson had very limited knowledge, the following informed the formation and conduct of the program:

  • Bob's strong interest in social justice, but limited involvement in related activities, donating or raising donations aside
  • Growing up in a rural area of England that formed Bob's appreciation for nature
  • Some longer term interest in regenerative agriculture but only recent and very limited experience in its practice. Most knowledge was gained from spending three months on a farm helping out and reading books on the topic including those from Peter Andrews, some years ago:
    • Peter Andrews two books: “Back from the Brink” and “Beyond the Brink”.
    • Charles Massy: “Call of the Reed Warbler”
    • Many farm visits
    • Running a farmers group for two years
    • Owning 1 acre of farm land (paddock) with two borrowed alpacas for a period of some 5 years and maintaining the garden and paddock
    • Planning and running a Regenerative/Sustainable farming conference  
  • Transitioning our own 1.5 acre garden to a state of sustainablility
  • Long running project to make our house sustainable
  • Knowledge gained of Doughnut Economics by reading Kate Rawson’s eponymous book
  • Delivery of a project, through our community group, to resolve a flooding issue on a 4.5 acre property belonging to some friends, by building “Swales” and ponds and a program of planting.

Further Reading

For more information and the extensive plans of the hub, find a summary on their website: Community Sustainability Hub.

See also Building Humes Future Together Program.