Together We Are Avondale: February ’17

Myself (Dayne) and Leilani were employed late last year as Community Development Workers to lead the Together we are Avondale project (read more about it here). We started on the job in February and our first month was mainly full of planning meetings and introducing ourselves to local stakeholders. In what will be the first of many posts about our project, here is a rundown of some of what we got up to in February:

Huffing Walk

Up to 10 young females have been spotted in recent months huffing glue in Avondale, often on the Avondale Primary School grounds. In response* to this, CAYAD organised a walk around the town centre to identify places where huffing and other anti-social behaviour happens with the ultimate aim of activating these spaces to make them safer. We were invited to the walk alongside members of Auckland Council, local community groups, social workers, arts practitioners and concerned residents. The walk was followed by a workshop to discuss ideas for activating/upgrading the spaces identified. There was an emphasis on improving Central Reserve and the old 3 Guys site (aka The Plantation): upgrading lighting, adding seating/tables/shade, making the spaces more family friendly and holding more events in the area for example. Central Reserve will be a focus for Together we are Avondale and other stakeholders going forward, as there is already council funding available for this space.

*The walk was one small part of addressing the huffing issue. The Avondale Business Association, Police, TYLA social workers and school staff are also working to stop local retailers selling glue to minors, and making contact with the young people to provide them with appropriate help.

PIPA Open Day

We were invited to an open day at the Pacific Institute of Performing Arts (PIPA), Rosebank Rd. There we were able to meet the staff and look at some of the facilities that PIPA is willing to share with the community when available. We also sat in on an acting workshop where prospective students were able to pick the brains of experienced actors Robbie Magasiva (Sione’s Wedding, Wentworth) and Rachel House (Boy, Hunt for the Wilderpeople, Moana).

Inspiring Communities Workshop

Late in the month we attended a workshop at the Gribblehirst Community Hub in Sandringham, hosted by Denise and Sissy of Inspiring Communities. The workshop was just a taster of a 2-day workshop scheduled for later in the year that Leilani will attend. Angie from the Southern Initiative spoke about the importance of community-led development or a “for whanau, by whanau” approach to build resilience in vulnerable communities. Verney from Beacon Pathway discussed Milenko’s framework for community development, noting that turnaround times were much quicker than conventional models and involved a higher level of community input. We had already been briefed on this framework by Shalema from Community Waitakere for the aforementioned Central Reserve upgrade.

Whau Youth Awards

We attended the first planning meeting for this year’s awards, which will likely be held June 1st. This will be the first year they have been opened up to the wider Whau rather than Avondale specifically. We discussed what the awards should look like and everyone agreed a formal, red carpet-style environment would be an ideal way of making the award-winners feel special. Other issues discussed included having respected/successful local people giving out the awards, raising sponsorship for  prizes, possible venues and what the food/entertainment might look like. Deahne from Creative Souls will project manage, with support from ourselves, PIPA, The Village Trust, TYLA, local school social workers and Generation Ignite.