Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Flowerdale Forum II

Mark your calendar for 20 March, 2010 as the date for the Flowerdale Forum II. it will be held at Community Hall from 1.00pm.

The first forum held in July was well attended and the community input set down the basis for the Community Recovery Plan, Flowerdale Forum II will be put on jointly by VBRRA, Murrindindi Shire Council and the FRC and will cover:

  • Where we are at on each item in the Recovery Plan
  • Displays of plans for new facilities such as the kindergarten, arts precinct, community hall (and others that may be available between now and then)
  • Discussions and community input on Communications, Economy, Renewable Energy and Youth

These forums are crucial for Flowerdale to achieve a successful community led recovery so we want as many people as possible to attend. Further details will be provided soon, if you have any specific questions let us know in the comments section below. I will seek to find out more on details like childcare, etc. One point of reassurance is there will be no sticks or games and those facilitating will have deep knowledge of Flowerdale.

Ideas for the Environment

i saw this article in the Murrindindi Shire Bushfire Recovery newsletter. Wonder if there are any ideas out there for Flowerdale for innovative nvironmental projects.

Environment Protection Authority (EPA) invites Victorian communities to propose fresh ideas and innovative solutions to the important environmental challenges we face.

Proposals should tackle significant environmental issues and work with Victorian communities to bring about changes in the way people think and act around issues like
climate change, pollution, air or water quality and resource use.
Funding for the Inspiring Environmental Solutions program is sourced through a legislative scheme where the 'polluter pays'. Under the Environment Protection
Act 1970 (Section 67AC), a company or individual found guilty of environmental pollution may be directed by a Magistrate to fund a community environmental project instead of, or in addition to, paying a fine. The total pool of funding on offer will vary each year, as funding is contingent upon the successful prosecution of
pollution incidents, and at the discretion of the presiding Magistrate.

Proposals accepted by EPA cannot be assured of funding within any one year, cannot be tied to a specific date and should have flexible implementation timelines.
Applications are now open until 31 March 2010.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Salvo's help with Back to School grants

The Salvation Army is concerned for Feb'09 bush fire affected families with significant back-to-school expenses. Grants may be obtained from a number of our bushfire recovery service locations.

The grant of $300 per child applies to primary or high school aged children from those households who had lost their house or had severe damage to their house, or who have had their incomes substantially reduced due to the fires. Expenses covered include things like school fees, books, uniforms and shoes and the grant will be paid based on the presentation of receipts of goods purchased. Please speak to a Salvation Army worker to confirm what you may be eligible to receive. . To access the grant visit or ring the Salvation Army bushfire recovery services at: Whittlesea for Kinglake Ranges & Nillumbik - 03 9716 2387 or Applications can be faxed through to Pathways Seymour from the Flowerdale Hub.

Great to see such practical assistance.

Over the Rainbow donate Jewellery making supplies

At the same time as we were unloading the Art from Aarwun, Heather from Over the Rainbow came into town with boxes of Jewellery Making supplies. Over the Rainbow have the largest range of beads, polymer clays and jewellery making supplies. You can check out their website at

Sharon Collins and Heather from Over the Rainbow with the jewellery making supplies

Sharon Collins, who is organising the Arts work engine, made the arrangements with Heather. As we move forward with the Arts Studio, that will be at the back of the Rec Reserve, Sharon and her team are ensuring that there will be plenty of opportunities for all in the Community to use the facility.

The proposed site for the Arts Studio at the Recreation Reserve

A big thank you to Over the Rainbow for this donation.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Aarwun Gallery donate art for those who lost their homes

On Saturday Robert Stephens, from Aarwun Art Gallery, and Elissa Massey, a NSW artist, arrived in Flowerdale with 400 paintings for the bushfire victims in Flowerdale.

The ABC news covered the event as Robert left from Canberra and also introduced Joy Warren the owner of the Solander Art Gallery who worked with Robert to collect the artwork.

The truck full of artwork was kindly provided by Kennard's

Robert and Elissa were greeted by Sharon Collins, the coordinator of the Arts Group work engine together with John Burgess, Peter Auty, Annie Robertson, Odette Hunter and myself.

The artwork has been put in storage and we will organise an event in the near future to distribute the artwork. We will work with the Art Work Engine group to organise the registration and distribution process.

In the video below Robert and Elissa talk about the project

Elissa personally donated two works and was very keen to come into the community herself. Her two pieces are displayed below:

The idea started when a Deloitte colleague of mine, Hamish Stephens, son of Robert, saw me talk about how the Flowerdale Community had responded to the Black Saturday disaster and came up with the idea.

We thank all involved in this amazing project and the people in the Community are already buzzing following the ABC News report.

Monday, February 8, 2010

A Day to Remember

The Flowerdale Community came together at Moore's Rd Reserve on the banks of the King Parrot Creek on February 7th on the first anniversary of Black Saturday.

Leading up to the event we weren't sure how many people would attend and set it up as a low key event without media. As 11.00am approached it was pretty clear that it would be a big event as traffic piled up along the road to the reserve. A crowd of almost 400 people gathered, a number of whom hadn't come back since the fires. Many people said they had been thinking "will I go?" during the week unsure of how they would feel on the day but most decided to attend.

The service was led by Grace Church and Chaplaincy Australia. The focus of the service was both to reflect but also to look forward. It has been a year that no one could have predicted with the loss and suffering endured by so many but also the forging of new bonds in the community. There was an opening song and a reflection followed by all attendees picking up a stone and placing it on a table with some floral wreaths, to be part of a memorial in the future.

Next was the song "True Blue" together with a series of photos taken by local photographer Samm Hall. As the song played tears streamed down the face of everyone there as they reflected and remembered. In some ways it felt cathartic as the emotions that had built up leading up to the anniversary were released together.

The service closed with the song "Amazing Grace" which provided a lift to everyone.

A little snippet of the Flowerdale Community spirit was on display when local identity, Crash, tried to drive out but got stuck in a ditch, in a second five guys came to the rescue and like a well drilled Formula One team got him out of the ditch. I suppose it is just how things work up here, everybody is willing to jump in and lend a hand to get things done.

A large part of the crowd then gravitated back to the Flowerdale Hotel. The Hotel was an integral part of the Flowerdlae story, it was the place that people went when they realised that the fires were too intense and it was also where the locals famously made a stand to fight back the flames to save the school, the hall and the hotel. It also became the hub of the relief effort and the place where community meetings were held daily for the first six weeks as the locals self organised to get things happening.

There was plenty of sharing of stories and experiences and as the day wore on it became a celebration of new friendships and bonds that had been forged by the events of Black Saturday. Many people said to me that before the fires most of the people in the community were "nodding acquaintances" now they were lifelong friends. That spirit was in the air yesterday and we lok forward to 2010 as the community recovers with a strong sense of purpose, confidence and togetherness.

Monday, February 1, 2010

Art for Flowerdale

In a very exciting development we are working with the Aarwun Art Gallery in Canberra who have collected a large number of artworks and are donating them to people who lost their homes in Flowerdale.

Robert Stephens and Larissa Witschi from Aarwun contacted me recently to let me know that they had pulled together a large collection of artworks to brighten up the lives of those who lost everything. From their experience of the Canberra fires they knew that while people are rebuilding or re-establishing their homes that most would have lost any artwork they had.

Robert and Larissa will be coming down in a truck from Canberra on the weekend of the 12/13 February to deliver the artwork and we will then arrange an event to distribute the artwork.

At this stage we are thinking that the best way to distribute the artwork will be to get people who lost their homes to register and we will have a draw where the person drawn can pick the piece they like, a bit like the AFL draft pick. There will be some logistics to make sure we can get as many people who lost their homes as possible involved and to put the work on display so people can view the artwork before making their selection.

We are really grateful to Aarwun for this initiative and will let you know more details as we sort out the event timing and the registration process.