Pushing the Boundaries

The theme for the recent Program Day was ‘Pushing the Boundaries’, sponsored by the Loddon Shire and Inglewood & Districts Community Bank. A tour of the Australian financed, Ceramet Solar facility at Bridgewater was conducted by the Manager, Simon Maan. He outlined the history of the project; efficiency of different panel designs and some pioneering products being marketed. Simon’s advice in achieving long and short-term goals was to ‘continue to revisit and re-evaluate, then adapt to change.’ Inside the facility, he continued with a visual presentation, detailing the project history, followed by an enlightening question time.

Supporting speaker, Chris Weir of the Bendigo Sustainability Group described the various challenges and opportunities available in the transition from fossil fuels to renewable energy, including forecasts for agriculture, transport and employment. He described innovative methods, including Crowd Funding being used by the Group to finance projects and increase community engagement. Chris also recommended ‘linking fundraising to the promotion of an event and the importance of designing an effective media campaign’.

Darryn Hartnett, of the University of Melbourne then explained that as new players enter the energy market more diversity will be created in the employment sector. He believes the support of local government in the promotion of new industries is instrumental in making positive community change. Climate change and the availability of water resources will require agriculture and local industries to adapt to different environments. His advice for successful projects, was to ‘identify what you have, where you want to go and then map a path to achieve it.’ All three speakers have formed collaborative working relationships to achieve shared goals.

Next on the agenda, was a tour of the refurbished Inglewood Town Hall Hub, now including the Library, Neighbourhood House, production of a Community Newsletter and offering a variety of other programs and services. A modern, architecturally stunning facility, respectful of and retaining the existing heritage features.

Following the guided tour, Murray Baud and Kim Hanlon spoke. Both local residents involved in the original idea to create a Hub within the Town Hall, who worked as part of a group for several years to contribute to a Feasibility Study, secure funding and see their plans become a reality. Murray, quoting Abraham Lincoln stated that, ‘the best way to predict the future is to create it.’ Kim, a LMCLP graduate and manager of the Inglewood Community Neighbourhood House Inc, was enthusiastic about the positive current and future benefits that the facility can offer her community.

Concluding the session at the Inglewood Town Hall, was a stimulating talk by former LMCLP graduate and current Loddon Shire Councillor, Colleen Condliffe. Actively involved in her community for decades, she has been instrumental in bringing about innovative change by stepping up to advocate for facilities, resources and opportunities for women, farmers, children, the environment and education in rural locations.

The day was completed by abseiling at the Melville Caves in Kooyoora National Park. Program participants were invited to conquer their fears and go outside their personal comfort zone, by taking on the challenge. The result being, increased confidence and trust in others, combined with a new experience, joy and lots of fun too. It was also a great chance for everyone to get to know each other better, as each abseiler waited their turn to face the experience.

(Written by Paula Collard, Hugh Williamson Trust sponsored participant)