Thursday, April 30, 2009

The Village is taken over

VBRRA has now appointed the operational arm of the Uniting Church to run the operation of the Village. This will involve a full time site supervisor being on site.

Reflecting on the work that went on to make the Village a reality it was a pretty amazing achievement. People from across the community banded together to put the plans together and brought in external expertise from their networks. The project was led by the Community Committee and strongly supported by people within the community including Ken Mival, Rob Dumsday, Ric Stubbings the Shire, particularly Matt Parsons, as well as many others.

External help came from a broad range of supporters including Fortescue Mining, Leighton Holdings, Hales Institute, CFMEU, Telstra, Microsoft, Aggreko, Baulderstone, SPAusnet, Wild Terrain Designs and Toll Holdings. (I will have left some out as there were so many so if i have let me know in the comments and I will add them).



A shaky video that I took in 28th February with a very bare recreation reserve

The Portland House Foundation helped kickstart things when they drove into the rec reserve with four caravans two weeks after the fires. These were used to provide immediate shelter to displaced residents. They also provided another four to people living on their blocks in the area.



Caravans provided by Portland House Foundation and others on the Rec in February

Volunteers from the local community and as far as Queensland and Perth just turned up and worked enormous hours to keep things rolling.

Things were far from perfect and at times it was chaotic but everyone kept doing what they could.

The plans were presented to the Premier on 4th March and the State Government through VBRRA, DHS and the Office of Housing kicked into gear and got things moving fast.

When you go to the rec now there are 15 dongas, 12 semi permanent units, a few caravans that are now not occupied, a road, laundry, toilets and shower blocks, water tanks, power, plumbing and internet access. The containers of goods have been progressively sorted and the goods moved to the relief hub at the Community Hall for distribution.

There is still more to do including a communal kitchen and more units but it has really bedded down.

With the weather becoming cold and wet we are getting ongoing applications for accommodation. It is very tough for anyone living in a caravan/tent/makeshift accommodation on a block. I was with relatives earlier this week who are living in a caravan and I have seen it first hand. (Not my Flowerdale relatives but another lot who also lost their home on Black Saturday).

Expressions of interest from anybody interested in living at the temporary village can be sent to leo.ryan@dhs.vic.gov.au or ring the Seymour DHS office Ph 57936400 and ask for the Housing Bushfire Response Team.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Flowerdale meets Green Cross

On Monday Peter Auty, CFA volunteer and poet, represented Flowerdale at a lunch in the city put on by Green Cross held at the offices of the large legal firm Minter Ellison.

Green Cross Australia is an environment group for the 21st century. It helps communities to tackle the impacts of climate change with practical ways of addressing sea level rise and extreme weather. It inspires people to get active, to put the future of our environment and our community back in our hands. Its mission is to foster a global values shift towards a peaceful, sustainable and secure future.

Given the intent of the Flowerdale community to move towards a safer and more sustainable future it is good to have been invited to participate in a luncheon that was focused on looking at ways Green Cross can help bushfire affected communities.

Green Cross is looking to engage further with Flowerdale and we will keep you posted. I think it was good for the city folk to see a real life Flowerdallian and Peter said that the fillet steak for lunch was the best he had ever had.

Monday, April 27, 2009

T Shirt Design Entries

We have received some great designs from our design competition. We are going to put them to a Community Vote as to what one is the winner but if it is close we may produce a few of them.

You can see the designs at Flickr and if you have been holding back with one get it up there quickly. I have also copied them below. Big thanks to Lauren from Eclipse who organised this.






Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Getting ready for the planning phase

Following Sunday's meeting we are moving ahead quickly into the planning phase.

John Burgess and I met with representatives from VBRRA, Vicurban and the Institute of Architects last night to work through a planning process.

We presented a high level summary of the aspirations emerging from the Community Workshop as follows:

- The community wants to take an active role in determining the future of Flowerdale
- The community spirit that has become stronger since the fires needs to be built on and maintained
- The rebuilding plan needs to look to the future
- There is strong support for Flowerdale to become a Sustainable Town, with water and energy top priorities
- There needs to be more community facilities, particularly for children and older residents
- There needs to be a strong focus on all aspects of water
- The plans need to be affordable for existing residents
- The issue of communications including mobile coverage, high speed internet access and television coverage needs to be dealt with
- Residents that are rebuilding need information and advice on bushfire safety, energy efficiency and the planning and rebuilding process. This needs to be established very quickly.
- Residents who did not lose their houses want to be able to plug in to any sustainable initiatives around water, energy and communications
- People want more opportunities to work in Flowerdale and we need to look at initiatives that provide employment in the community

Overall the community wants to ensure that Flowerdale is rebuilt in a better and more sustainable way.

A planning group will be formed very quickly and we will give more info on the process, timelines and opportunity for participation as soon as it is available.

if there are any key aspirations which you think aren't covered above please add a comment and let us know.

We expect that the outline of the planning process will be available early next week.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Presentations from Sunday

I have have received the presentations from CSIRO and they are all set up below:

CSIRO Flowerdale - Integrated Assessment

CSIRO Flowerdale - Energy

CSIRO Flowerdale - Water

CSIRO Flowerdale - Bushfire

Hope you find these useful. We are pulling together the notes from Sunday and will post them shortly.

Solar Panel Rebate deadline to be extended for Bushfire Victims

i was asked by numerous people on Sunday about the Solar Panel Rebate deadline of 30th June, 2009 and whether it would be extended for bushfire victims.

Fortunately I was invited to the Australian Philanthropy Summit on Sunday and Monday which was also attended by Christine Nixon. I raised the issue with Christine and she has already arranged for an extension for bushfire victims. VBRRA will provide more specifics shortly but all is OK, well done VBRRA.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

A really successful expo and workshop

We had the expo and workshop today. The rec reserve clubrooms were close to full and we heard froma number of experts.

Nigel Bell, led off and remindied us that the world we now live in has changed. The weather is hotter, we have less available water, oil will run out and energy costs will rise dramatically. He also reminded us that as we look to rebuild Flowerdale we are rebuilding for a future which will be different from the past. We have a once in a lifetime opportunity to rebuild Flowerdale in a sustainable way.

He then asked us to break into groups to discuss "What do we want Flowerdale to be in 2020?" The groups went into passionate discussion for the next half hour and some of the key points that came out were:

Water is and will increasingly be a major issue, we need to think about how we can be smarter in how we use, treat and recycle water and look at collective solutions

The spirit that Flowerdale has and which has grown since Black Saturday is special and we want to ensure that those that lived here before the fires can rebuild. We also need to provide facilities for kids, the elderly and everyone else in between to make sure Flowerdale can stick together

We need modern communications, today we have poor internet access, weak mobile coverage and cannot even get Free to Air from Melbourne in some parts. We need to fix this with a view to the future

The community wants to pursue a sustainable agenda but it needs to be affordable and accessible for our current community members

Those whose houses survived or were partially damaged want to be able to participate in a sustainable model





The CSIRO team led by Matthew Inman covered off the key issues of integrated planning, bushfire safety, water and energy efficiency.






There is plenty more to cover, but in short it was successful and the community wants to keep moving forward.

Saturday, April 18, 2009

All ready for Expo and Workshop

It has been a hectic week getting things ready for tomorrows Expo and Workshop.

The workshop will be led by Community Planner and Architect Nigel Bell and we will have presentations from four experts from CSIRO covering integrated planning, design for bushfire safety, energy efficiency and water management.

Following the presentations we will break into groups to get input from the community as to the key priorities for the recovery for Flowerdale together with what the community wants for the Flowerdale of the future.

We will have a number of people in attendance from Vicurban, the Institute of Architects and RMIT.

It is the first step on the journey from the immediate relief work that has gone on in the Community since Black Saturday, to planning for the future.

We want as many people as possible to turn up for what will be a very informative day for all the people from Flowerdale. It starts at 10.00am at the Recreation Reserve Clubrooms.

If you cant attend leave a comment on the blog if there are things you want to input for consideration.

We will post results on the blog and we are also looking to capture email addresses or postal addresses for all in the Community to ensure everyone has the opportunity to keep informed and participate.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Serendipity

I had to fly to Sydney this morning on an early flight. When I woke up I just couldn't get Greensburg out of my mind. I decided that I would ring the Greensburg Council and see if I could speak to the Mayor. I wasn't sure what I would say or even why I was ringing, I just knew we could learn from what they had done after their town was devastated by a tornado in May 2007.

I rang and gave a brief explanation of who I was and they put me on to Bob Dixson, the Mayor of Greensburg. I told Bob about Flowerdale and how we were running a community led model for recovery, just like them. Bob said, "I am coming to Melbourne in late June,to present at a Sustainability conference, I would love to come up and talk to your community".

I suppose that is what serendipity is about, people helping each other in the face of adversity, reaching out, telling our story and things falling into place.

Flowerdale has been through the horror of Black Saturday and things are tough out there but the willingness of people, both within the community and others from outside, to work on coming through the disaster whether in Australia or throughout the world gives a level of hope and confidence that Flowerdale will come out of the disaster so much stronger.

It made me feel pretty emotional, I hope that any resident who reads this gets a lift in the knowledge that there are people out there who have been through similar adversities and can help us come out of this better and stronger than before.

Thanks to Bob and the people of Greensburg for showing us that you can come out the other side and also their willingness to share what they have learnt.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Inspiration from Greensburg and a place to rent

A lot of focus has been on getting ready for the Community Expo and Workshop at the Rec Reserve on Sunday. John Burgess has been working with Nigel Bell and the CSIRO experts on putting together an Agenda.

I met with the CEO of Vicurban, Pru Sanderson and the Urban Design Director, Daniel Khong. Vicurban are a State Government body that does developments on land released by the State Government. They have done many new developments as well as worked with existing communities. They have also done some leading edge sustainability (water, renewable energy, energy efficient design) and communications (Fibre to the home, in layman's terms super fast cable) work in communities. They are keen to offer their assistance in our planning once the community decides on a path ahead.

Pru also gave me a copy of the recovery plan of a town called Greensburg, Kansas, which lost 11 lives and 961 homes in a tornado in May 2007. The community decided it wanted to rebuild as a green town and take the disaster as an opportunity. I have been researching Greensburg online this evening and there is a lot we could learn from them. They also had documentaries recording the process which can be seen online on The Sundance Channel. Check out the recovery plan or you can find a good overview of things at the Greensburg website.

I have also been told there is a 4 bedroom house available for rent in Riverside. If you want more detail email carahealth@hotmail.com.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Relief Fund grows, Village filling up

The Flowerdale Relief Fund continues to gain momentum and has reached $34000. Not quite as big as the Red Cross Fund but we are making progress. We received $10000 from the Australian Buddhist Sociey and this was handed over to Steve at the pub by some Buddhist monks. Thank you very much.

The initial meeting of the community groups incorporating all of the existing groups in the town and the Flowerdale Recovery Committee will happen tomorrow to look at priorities for the funds and also how to continue to grow the fund.

The first 10 units in the Village have now been allocated and more units are on order. We expect more people to move in early next week. We are also getting more people in the portable chalets. Things have really settled down at the Village following the initial weeks where it was pretty chaotic. We have had people doing an inventory of what is in containers and the goods will be moved to the Hub or to the central relief hub in Clayton if there are things in there that we can't use.

Don't forget the Community Expo and Workshop on Sunday.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Community Expo and Workshop notice

Here is the Official Notice for the Community Expo and Workshop to be held on 19th April, 2009. If you know residents who are living out of town please let them know as we want as many people to attend as possible.

Community Expo and Workshop

Want to post your story

Important: Please attend Community Expo and Workshop on Sunday 19th April @ 10.00am. Click for more detail


I will be posting a few blog entries today as I discovered that I have had a number of emails sent to my Gmail account from the blog and I don't check it that often so i hadn't answered them. Sorry to those that sent me emails, I will divert it to my work one so no more will slip through the cracks in the future.

Anyway, Victoria Online (http://www.vic.gov.au/) is the Victorian State Government website and they have created a new blog for people to share their bushfire recovery stories. If you want to post your story of recovery or anything to do with your story the link is http://haveyoursay.vic.gov.au/bushfirerecoverystories/

After some feedback this week I also added some links to key sites relating to Flowerdale including the Relief Fund for Flowerdale (not the Red Cross one as no funds have been forthcoming to communities via that Relief Fund so we set up our own), photos on Flickr (if you have photos of Flowerdale relating to the fire and want them up i would love to get them email me petfwill@gmail.com), details of Grants for those affected by the fires (DHS website) and the Victorian Bushfire Relief and Reconstruction Authority (VBRRA).

I will see if I can also post up a calendar of forthcoming events, having conquered answering email from my GMail account this can be my next big step.

Replacement of Lost Musical Instruments

If you have lost musical instruments in the Black Saturday bushfires Resound Bushfire Appeal is linking donated musical instruments (new and 2nd hand) with those who lost musical instruments in the Victorian bushfires.

If you have lost a musical instrument or if you are a reader of this blog with a spare musical instrument go to the Resound Bushfire Appeal Website at the Music Council of Australia's website.

You can also contact Rachel Hocking, the coordinator of the appeal, on 0424 071 914.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Easter Bunny comes to Town

Important: Please attend Community Expo on Sunday 19th April @ 10.00am

Flowerdale had its first Easter Egg hunt down at the Recreation Reserve on Saturday. The Easter egg hunt was organised by "What an Eggcellent Community" and the DHS.



Local Trudy coordinated the event on behalf of the community. The CFA took a truck down to the rec reserve and there was more than enough chocolate to go around.

A fun day was had by all and it was a great way to get the community together.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Looking towards a safer and more sustainable future

During the week meetings were held with CSIRO and community planner Nigel Bell, from Eco Design Architects. These meetings were the next steps in looking at how the community can drive towards a safer and more sustainable future as Flowerdale recovers from Black Saturday.

We are holding a Community Expo and Workshop at the Spring Valley Recreation Reserve Clubrooms on Sunday, 19th April, 2009 at 10.00am. We would like as many people to attend as possible to ensure there is wide ranging input from the Community.

Nigel Bell's services have been arranged by the Australian Childrens Trust Foundation, a charitable organisation established by Andrew Forrest. Nigel's background is in Architecture and Planning and he has spent many years reseaching, writing and presenting on waste minimisation, resource efficiency, bushfires and buildings, architecture and social ecology. Nigel specialises in working with communities to identify what they value and want for the long term and helping to plan ways to achieve the community goals. This process involves community workshops that ensures maximum opportunity for participation across the entire community. Nigel is also working on a similar process in Marysville.

The CSIRO team was led by Dr Matthew Inman who is the leader of CSIRO's Sustainable Ecosystems Urban Systems Program. Matthew brought along colleagues with expertise in Design in Bushfire Prone areas, Energy Efficient Design. Communication and Water,Waste Water Management and Recycling. They will also present to the Community on Sunday, 19th April.

The idea is to provide information and education to the Community about what can be done in terms of design at an individual and community level and to capture directly from the community their key values and desires and identify the key decisions that need to be made at a community level.

The Community Committee has engaged with some of Australia's leading experts in this area to ensure Flowerdale recovers to be safer and more sustainable and we are hoping that as many people as possible participate to shape the future of Flowerdale. It is your town and the Community Committee are looking to facilitate the outcomes that the Community wants.

CSIRO also suggested people look at the Community Engagement Process at Eastlake
Ecospecifier an online tool that lets you spec your eco requirements
A CSIRO website that details the integrated assessment process that CSIRO has developed for looking at renewal of communities, it includes a small movie


We have some background flyers that we will distribute at the Shop, Pub, Community Hall and Recreation Reserve. The documents can be read below.
CSIRO Renovators Guide

CSIRO Buyers Guide

Rural Town Development

Sustainable Water and Sewerage Servicing

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Flowerdale - An example to all Australians

On Tuesday General Peter Cosgrove (Ret.) came into Flowerdale. Peter is a legendary Australian with more experience in disaster management than anyone in the country. He led the Interfet force in Timor and then led the effort to rebuild Innisfail and surrounding areas after Cyclone Larry. He had a distinguished military career and was Australian of the Year in 2001.

The Community Committee asked Peter to come and share his experience with us and to review what was going in Flowerdale and give us some advice. We also asked him to meet the locals and provide us with his impressions.

Peter said that the DIY strategy of getting out in front and driving our own destiny was spot on. He said that in times of disaster you cant sit back and wait you need to take control of your own destiny. He did remind us that we needed to avoid the broader community outside Flowerdale saying "those guys in Flowerdale are OK we don't need to worry about them". We need to make sure we continue to engage with government, industry and philanthropy and continue to provide a clear picture of what the community needs.



He also urged us to ensure that we do not lose the opportunity to record the history of Black Saturday and the recovery effort. He said the fires were the biggest thing that would happen to Flowerdale in 100 years and we needed to find a local historian or group of people whose job was to record the history. (Volunteers welcome, if you are interested let us know via the comments or email me pewilliams@deloitte.com.au).

Peter spent time mixing with locals at the Pub and it was really pleasing to see a number of the "Flowerdale Cowboys" in attendance. Peter is very down to earth and the locals really warmed to him.



"The crowd at the pub"

Just before he left he addressed the crowd. he said that the Flowerdale Hotel in his mind was like the Alamo, the place where a brave group of locals gathered and decided to take a last stand against Mother Nature at its most ferocious. He praised the Cowboys for their bravery and determination and refusal to give in against overwhelming odds.

He also commented on the example Flowerdale had provided to the rest of Australia. He said he was honoured and privileged to have the opportunity to visit a community that had been knocked down but had refused to give in. He praised the community spirit he had observed and experienced during the day. He like most Australians had watched the day unfold and had no idea of the stories of bravery, courage and the resilience shown by the Flowerdale community. He reminded us that we needed to stick together and continue with our approach to rebuild the town.

As I dropped him off at the Airport I thanked him for coming down and spending the time, he said to me that he didn't want thanks, for him it was the first opportunity he had to visit a bushfire ravaged community and he thanked the community of Flowerdale for sharing their experience with him, "It was a privilege and honour to be invited and to spend time with the Flowerdale community" he said.

I think he inspired everyone there and we need to make sure we capture the history, continue to drive the community led model and maintain the spirit.

PS Thanks to Mel Kerr at the Photo Art Gallery for the pics

Pete's Poem - A reminder of Black Saturday's Ferocity

We have just posted Peter Auty's poem about Black Saturday.

video

Peter is a long term Flowerdale resident and CFA Volunteer. The poem reminds us how Black Saturday broke all the rules. No matter how much training or knowledge you had nothing could prepare you for Black Saturday.

Pete's Poem was read out by Premier John Brumby in Victorian Parliament and is recorded in Hansard.

We thank Peter not only for this poem but the role he has played in the Flowerdale community before, during and since Black Saturday.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Why the Wasps?

On top of the bushfires Flowerdale has been enduring European Wasps in what seems like plague proportions.

I spotted an article in the Whittlesea Star that gives some explanation. An extract from the article appears below. It was noted they are bad in Whittlesea but worse in Flowerdale.

“I certainly know to an extent that people have been shooing wasps away for several weeks. They are a bit of a concern. The fires have upset quite a few nests and they are floating around,” Mr Hayward said.

Mr Hayward said residents have been out at dusk trying to track wasps back to their nests, which can be more than 500 metres away from food.

From my observations raspberry lemonade in a plastic bottle seems to be the best way of catching them.

VBRRA visits

On Monday, Major General John Cantwell, came to Flowerdale to review the progress of the Temporary Village and have a general discussion with John Burgess about the way forward.

He hadn't seen the Village for a few weeks and he was amazed by the progress.

There are 15 portable chalets in place, all with plumbing, heating and power. The first two Flat Packs have been occupied and there are another 8 in advanced stages of construction.

The laundry was getting good usage from some local residents, not ones at the rec reserve, but those living in the area without laundry facilities.

VBRRA are really pleased with how fast things have come together and the good relationship that exists with the Flowerdale community.

The Hales Institute are finishing up on Saturday but local volunteers will step into the breach to fill the gap until the communal kitchen is in place and VBRRA are organising a temporary facility to replace the portable kitchen that is currently on site. A more permanent communal kitchen is also about to be put in place.

Allocations of chalets and the Flat Pack units are being handled by DHS and that process is working smoothly.

Overall it was a successful visit and the Major General was really pleased that the Community Government partnership discussed in early March, when the plans for the Village were handed over by the Community Committee, has had very tangible results.



"Major General Cantwell, with John Burgess, Community Leader, and Pete Williams, Volunteer and Blog Author"

Nintendo helps provide parents holiday sanity

Last Friday Nintendo came up to the Flowerdale Primary School and gave all of our 33 students a new Nintendo DS.

The fires destroyed houses and contents and particularly distressing for the kids was the loss of their DS's, Wii's, XBoxes etc.

With school holidays coming up it was going to be hard to deal with all of the hassles that life presents to bushfire affected families, particularly with bored kids in tow.

So a huge thank you to Nintendo, the kids and parents in Flowerdale are very appreciative.



"Sarah, a local identity, with her DS and Gizmo, the dog she is babysitting"

Monday, April 6, 2009

More Units coming on stream

What a difference a week makes. Last week I put in some pictures of the next lot of units being built.



When I visited the site on Sunday morning i was amazed to see seven more units in the final stages of construction.





There is now a road from the clubrooms car park all the way to the northern end of the land adjacent to the rec reserve. This was important to make sure that the site was accessible during wet weather. Another problem now averted.



"The road looking from the northern end of the rec reserve down to the clubrooms"


All of the residents are now either in the portable chalets or the Flat Packs, we will move the caravans from their current locations and keep them in reserve for potential future demand.

And as promised the copy of the plan.




King Parrots coming home

It was a busy weekend up in Flowerdale and my personal highlight was to see a little group of King Parrots having a peck around in Silver Creek Rd on Sunday morning.



Silver Creek Rd in Flowerdale was effectively destroyed and looks like a war zone, I was driving around to check out where the site clean ups had been started and came across these guys.




To put in into perspective the town of Flowerdale runs along the King Parrot Creek and the King Parrot is the emblem of the town. Locals had told me that the numbers of King Parrot had increased in recent years but I hadn't come across anyone who had seen one since the fires. it is good to see not only more local people return to the town and attempt to get their lives back together but also see the native bird life retuning as well.

Hope you get some joy from this just as I did.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Community Meeting update

The community meeting was held last night and covered a wide range of topics.

Cr Sally Abbott Smith, Rob Croxford and Howard Paix from the Murrindindi Shire spoke to the community on a wide range of topics and distributed handouts providing information on issues such as Septic Systems, Community Services, Communication and other topics.

The Department of Primary Industry provided an update on assistance for fencing which has been a major issue for many people affected by the fires, particularly farmers and primary producers.

Grocon have commenced clearance work in the area and have set up teams for Long Gully Rd, Creekside, Riverside and Silver Creek/Silver Parrot Rd. To date 13 properties have been cleared and there are more than 200 to go; it is good to see the process has commenced.

The Community Committee gave an update on the Flowerdale Relief Fund. The money raised will be distributed through coordination with the existing community groups such as CFA, Community House, Youth Group, Kindergarten and School. (I am sure there are more groups and they will also be involved). The money will be focused on providing community facilities.

A brief update was given on the Sustainable Town initiative and the information gathering process will start in earnest next week with meetings scheduled with a range of organisations with expertise in the area. We will keep people posted via the blog and also at the Community Meetings.

There will be no meeting next week due to Good Friday and I will post the location of the next meeting on the Blog and also via the Shire Newsletter.

Have a great weekend, I will be in town for the next few days and will keep posting updates. Feel free to grab me if there are things that you want covered.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Temporary Village powers ahead

Things at the temporary village are bedding down fast. We now have power to the site so we can reduce reliance on generators. In addition work on the road has started so we will be in good shape for site access during winter, if/when it rains.

Telstra has put in a comms tower and a TV repeater so we have good communications infrastructre on the site combined with wireless internet access. A big thanks for Telstra for the work they have done.


Telstra Technicians on the job



The new tower stands proudly next to the clubrooms on the Rec Reserve


The committment for 24 units has been made and they are being built quickly. We also have the portable chalets which can provide good quality housing for Flowerdale residents that have been displaced. Contact DHS at the Services Hub if you wish to get your name on the list for accommodation in the Village.



We have arrangements in place for furnishing both the Flat Pack units and Chalets so as people move in all of the required furniture will be in place.



A communal kitchen is being set up for people living in the chalets (they don't have kitchens), and all of the Flat Pack units have cooking facilities.

The residents that are living in the Village have all been very happy with the heating, which is a good sign heading into winter. All of the chalets and units have bathrooms and toilets. They are fully plumbed and the necessary plumbng/water infrastructure is set up on site.

And finally for a bit of fun there will be an Easter Egg hunt on Easter Saturday at the village so if you have kids put it in the calendar. Will find out the time and post it.

I am also trying to get a plan of the Village in a picture format so i can put it on the blog. I am a bit technologically challenged by this task but have passed it onto someone who will do it in a snap and will get it up soon.

Thursday, April 2, 2009

Getting ready for the road ahead

Next week will be a big one for Flowerdale. With the Temporary Village continuing to grow and the operational side bedding down we are now looking to the future.

The Community Committee is making contact with a range of organisations to get an understanding of the options for the community going forward. The information gathered will be presented back to the community for input. We are also seeking input from the community as to the issues or opportunities that they want covered so we can make the necessary contacts. The Community Committee will not make the decisions, this will be done through the community meetings. At this stage it is an information gathering process to ensure the community knows what the options are and have the right amount of knowledge to make decisions going forward.

We have started the process of getting childcare in place and are liaising with the Shire of Murrindindi to put something in place quickly. We are also working with Community House to look at potential future options.

We are meeting with VBRRA on Monday to get a better idea of its view of what will happen in the longer term which will be reported back to the community.

We will also be meeting with the Australian Childrens Trust, the foundation of Andrew Forrest, to see how we can work with them for the longer term.

The Peter Cosgrove visit will also give us valuable insight into planning for the future based on his experience in Disaster Management and Recovery.

We will also be talking to some of the Corporations and Philanthropic Groups that have expressed their interest in helping out in the longer term. The amount of support out there for Flowerdale is amazing. Everyone we talk to is keen to help.

We encourage everyone to attend the Community meeting on Friday to provide input and direction to the Community Committee, as this process needs to be driven by the community to make it work.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Tennis brings people together

I dropped by the Rec on Sunday afternoon and saw the car park was very full. My first thought was must be a good lunch on today but I walked around the back and the tennis courts were full of people of all ages getting coaching and having a great time.

Jeannette Kamar, one of the Community Committee, and the contact person for the tennis club, has arranged for Tennis Victoria to provide free coaching and the Bendigo Tennis Association and Community have provided racquets and shoes for the community. The tennis club is the only sporting facility available in Flowerdale and the number of players has skyrocketed since the fires.

There were 38 people there for the first coaching session and a big thank you to Stephen Storer from Bendigo for his hard work in providing the coaching.



"Stephen Storer and the junior contingent at the first coaching session"

Jeannette said to me that she believes sport is a fantastic way to bring the community together and also give people a break from the hardships that they are dealing with. She sees this as an important part of the recovery process.

I spoke to a friend, who lost everything in the fires, and had never picked up a tennis racquet in her life. She said she had a fantastic time and was now a tennis convert. She had a great time and was pumped.

The vibe on the courts was great with lots of people really enjoying themselves.

A big thank you to Jeannette, Tennis Victoria and the wider tennis community who have made this happen. Another example of people in the community doing their bit to keep the spirit strong.

If you are a Flowerdalian and want to get involved drop around and have a go, the courts are open all day and racquets and balls are provided. You can also sign up for coaching, the best way is to call Jeannette on 5780 1520.