Together We Are Avondale: August ’17

Feed the Streets

We had our third and fourth meals during August and saw a big surge in growth, with 10-15 guests at each one. While we’ve only had a small number of return guests across the first four meals, we’ve had around 25 different people come through which is encouraging. The reasons some haven’t returned will vary depending on the individual. For example, some people don’t have a good handle on days/times and struggle to keep ‘appointments’, people’s situations can change quickly and the weather can make a difference when many walk to our meal.

To date, our guests vary in age from late-teens to pensioners, but are predominantly male. Some are living rough, in lodges, the caravan park, pensioner housing or in temporary situations with family/friends. Mental health, addiction issues and dysfunctional families are pretty common issues, but almost everyone that’s come through has been friendly and open with us.

We’ve also established a really strong and tight crew of volunteers, including Trevor who’s become our main chef – he used to cook for Air NZ. We have a lot more people keen to be involved, but the need isn’t there yet, plus with our core group so invested in FTS we want to prioritise them first. However, as a way of being as inclusive as possible we’ve started inviting people to bake for us so they can contribute in that way rather than ‘on the ground’. This has been well-received so far.

Meal #4 was quite a significant one for us. One of our regular volunteers, Jo was spotted in a FTS photo on I Love Avondale by her social development classmate at Unitec, Amelia. Amelia then contacted us about contributing some blankets, which we welcomed. She turned up on the night with not only blankets, but male and female care packages that she’d put together herself and a real enthusiasm to contribute. Reacting to this, we set up a koha trolley and when another volunteer, Tom saw this he rushed home to get boxes of shoes, hats and clothes to add to the table. The koha trolley was a success and over half of what was on there went.

Another unexpected outcome on the night was an impromptu cypher. Volunteer Tom is a well-known and respected local MC and with Ronnie on the guitar/Chris on the piano he kicked some rhymes with five youngsters aged 15-20 that came through. We’ve since built a good relationship with those young guys who loved the experience, saying that they’d never been to anything like FTS and that they felt really comfortable there.

Another notable development was that two Unitec creative arts students contacted Leilani about creating a short doco on FTS for their course. We’re currently in talks about that.

Whau Pacific Festival

The Creative Souls Project (TCSP) led the festival and did a great job of providing a solid range of events showcasing our Pasifika people, food and cultures. There were five days of events this year, many of which were based in Avondale.  The Pacific Short Film Night at the Hollywood Cinema was awesome and my pick was definitely “Waiting”, shot in Manurewa by a southsider and written by a west Aucklander. I also went to the Whau Fresh Tea Room at our Community Centre, which was a festival wrap-up event with a free feed and entertainment from TCSP, Groove House and SUPA. While the food was free, TCSP invited attendees to donate a can of food for our FTS initiative. They also gave us heaps of unused food leftover from the festival as well, which has been a massive help. Big love to D and Mal from The Creative Souls for looking out for us. Check out the festival on Facebook, here.

3 Guys

A public meeting was held on the 22nd to workshop ideas for a temporary community and recreation hub on the old 3 Guys site. There were about 30 people in attendance including local residents, business owners, council reps, creatives and community groups.

The aim of the workshop was to identify some of the best ideas from public consultation via social media (like I Love Avondale), and on the street by Leilani and the Whau Youth Board. In groups, we discussed how these ideas might work in the space using maps to draw up how everything could look and fit.

The next steps are for the convening group behind the project to fine tune these workshopped ideas, then preparing the site and sussing out the funding to get some quick wins happening. At this time, Together we are Avondale’s role in this project is just to provide support by helping communicate what’s happening.

Miscellanous

Behind the scenes, we are also continuing work on other initiatives of our own, including:

  • An asset map collating what’s available in Avondale
  • A pilot initiative to setup a community fridge at a school aimed at providing food for kids in need and possibly their parents
  • A monthly community newsletter covering local people, businesses, events, news and showcasing kids’ school work