Meet the gang and hear the stories!

Left to Right: Danielle Hunt (Careers Network Inc), Rob Waters (Aboriginal Employment Officer, UNE), Peter Hall (Project Manager), Katherine Worthing (Lecturer, Oorala Aboriginal Student Centre, UNE), Debra Bennell (Director, Oorala Aboriginal Student Centre, UNE), Colin Ahoy (Chair, Local Aboriginal Land Council), Steve Widders (Project Manager), Kate Wright (School of Arts, UNE). Behind the camera: Veronica Walford. Missing from the frame: Bruce Dennison (Clontarf Academy) and Kerrie Nixon (Jobs Australia).

Left to Right: Danielle Hunt (Careers Network Inc), Rob Waters (Aboriginal Employment Officer, UNE), Peter Hall (Project Manager), Katherine Worthing (Lecturer, Oorala Aboriginal Student Centre, UNE), Debra Bennell (Director, Oorala Aboriginal Student Centre, UNE), Colin Ahoy (Chair, Local Aboriginal Land Council), Steve Widders (Project Manager), Kate Wright (School of Arts, UNE). Behind the camera: Veronica Walford (Local Aboriginal Land Council). Missing from the frame: Bruce Dennison (Clontarf Academy) and Kerrie Nixon (Jobs Australia).

So we had our first meeting of the core team about the garden yesterday, and it was so wonderful to get together to map out a direction forward. A few people couldn’t make it, but there was still a strong group there. Over some sandwiches and quiche we chatted about what we hoped the garden would bring to the community, and how we could make it a place that draws together younger and older generations, people living in different areas of town, and people from different cultures to dig, grow, eat, talk, learn, and share. Everyone was in agreement that there is so much potential in this little block of land, and we can’t wait to get started!

 

One of the things that struck me were the amount of stories people already have about this place – how connected to community the land has been for years. When the site was part of an Aboriginal reserve, many families lived in the area, and so at our meeting some of the garden team began sharing their childhood memories of the site and the surrounds. Underneath all that building refuse are peoples memories and connections, borne along generational lines and held in the land. It’s these kind of entanglements between people, community and place that I think the garden can enliven. And I think so many people in the Armidale community would love to hear the stories.

 

So we are planning a garden get-together at the site on November 8th, open to all. At this day Elders and community members will share some of their memories of the place.We’ll be filming and sound recording some of the stories, as well as people’s hopes and thoughts about the garden site as it is now and what it can become. We’ll also provide some information on the environmental impacts of illegal dumping, and how we can rehabilitate the area. This will be an early opportunity for community members to become involved, and find out about the different training and education opportunities that will be running through the garden.

VLUU L100, M100  / Samsung L100, M100

Even though it’s frustrating to have to wait to hear back from funding organisations to get the money we need to have the soils tested and the site cleared up, it’s also kind of nice to dwell in the dirt, and to think about this rubbish and refuse and what it conceals. I think the rubble hides the ties of memory and time that bind people to place, but it certainly does not destroy them. Clearing out all the piles of rock will be about more than making space for a garden. Tilling that soil may bring up chthonic histories that have been buried by change and the passing of years. I can’t wait to get my hands dirty and see what’s in the ground!

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