empowering community

Tactical Urbanism is occurring globally in communities large and small. The impetus is simple, connecting and supporting local community through empowering people to create and activate the urban areas around their properties. In a world where we define our homes by property boundaries only, this movement seeks to redefine our understanding of the land and our communities role in it.

Residents in Geelong’s northern suburbs have come together to create an event in support of local community in Labuan Square, Norlane. The square and local shopping area will be filled with activities and groups supporting local residents to live healthily and create new business ideas through a start-up business hub, a local food swap of backyard produce, backyard gardening and chook workshops, art activities cycling and walking maps, and much more.

Labuan Square has been an important central spot for local community that has slowly deteriorated over the years. However recent interest in the ‘Square’ has led to a number of festivals and community projects in recent years including a number of mural art pieces  facilitated by local artist Laura Alice. Current retailers and owners of vacant shops in Labuan Square are keen to see the area revitalized, with a number of shop owners providing vacant shop for the community event.

Community groups, local artists, poets and street performers will activate the space supported by local business, council and the Geelong Better Block (GBB) volunteer crew. The GBB volunteers are local community with a passion for developing a more sustainable city and stronger regional economy.

Geelong North Better Block poster

A Geelong Better Block event was held in June 2013, the first in Australia, attracting over 700 visitors. Located in central Geelong the event helped to empower community to own the street and create events for community to talk about and share ideas on sustainable living, efficient housing, safe cycling access and growing your own foods.

‘With this Better Block in Norlane we are seeing greater interest from local residents and community in supporting new business ideas, celebration through local art and music, food swaps and sharing ideas on growing your own food.” said Suzette Jackson, Geelong Better Block coordinator. We will have a business hub open on the day for residents to obtain advice to assist with business start-ups run by Enterprise Geelong. We also have a pop up craft market for people just starting out in setting up their own craft business and wanting to test their ideas.

The Geelong Northern Suburbs Local Food Map, an initiative of local social enterprise Two and Five, will be launched on the day also. The fold-out map locates where to find places within the northern suburbs to ‘grow, cook, swap, shop’ with local fresh food, supporting local producers and local business. “The map is an important piece of who ‘Two and Five’ are as a local social enterprise. We are here to support local community in learning how to grow, how to preserve and access fresh local foods,” explained Two and Five manager Katie Drummond – Gillet.

The pop-up Labuan Square Art Space will provide a gallery space and workshops on lantern making for the Mouth to Mountain festival in May. The twenty-four hour Mountain to river Mouth walk crosses the northern suburbs on the first leg towards Barwon Heads. Sue Hartigan, Cloverdale Community Centre Manager and one of the District Coordinators for M~M2014 is excited to participate in this great local event, “This event is all about supporting local community and making us stronger. There are amazing resilient people living in the northern suburbs – lets celebrate together.”

The Geelong North Better Block is a fun community event that will include local musicians, artists, children’s activities, a pop-up craft stall and more. The edible garden workshops include permaculture, growing from seedlings, backyard chooks and edible native plants. Locally made up-cycled seating and bicycle racks will be used and residents and cycling groups are encouraged to ride to the event. Bicycle repair information will be available on the day as well as a short bike ride to the Corio Bay Inner harbor led by Cycling Geelong & Queenscliff Men’s Shed members. Local community groups will have information at the event on the day for people interested. The event promotes safe cycling and walkable communities, encouraging a transition to a healthy and sustainable Geelong.

Geelong North Better Block is supported by council, community and business including Cloverdale Community Centre, Rosewall Neighborhood Centre, Diversitat, Future Proofing Geelong, The Fort, City of Greater Geelong, Geelong Technical Education Centre, 2&5 Fresh Foods, The Pulse, The Chicken Feeder, Urban Planter, Cycling Geelong, Geelong Arts Alliance, Cloverdale Food Swap, Tree Project, Innate Ecology and local artists and craft makers.

Sustainable Living Forums

At Innate Ecology we are very pleased to bring two days of forums to regional community in the Sustainable Living Festival Geelong 2014.  A full day of ‘Sustainable Housing’ forums will be held at The Lounge in the Geelong Performing Arts Centre on Thursday 13th February 2014. Following this on Friday 14th February we will host a full day of forums on Farm & Food Entrepreneurs, ending with conversation and tastings with local producers.

Stay on at the Geelong Performing Arts Centre or catch an early dinner and be back for the Future Proofing Geelong feature talk with Gardening Australia’s host Costa Georgiadis at 7.30pm in the foyer.

We are very excited about the expertise and information that will be shared at these two days of forums by local and regional specialists.

Sustainable Housing, Healthy Living Forums – Thursday 13th February

SustainableHousingForums_IE 2014

Farm & Food Entrepreneur Forums – Friday 14th February


The forums aim:

  • to promote sustainable multi-residential development using the One Planet Living principles referred to in the City of Greater Geelong Environmental Management Strategy (currently out for public comment).
  • to provide information that supports people making their homes more sustainable and in the process healthy.

Specialists explain how participants can incorporate ideas into their own homes whether a retrofit or new and how to access local experts.

Registrations can be made at Innate Ecology booking site

Creating Liveable Cities – Regenerating Geelong’s Northern Waterfront

‘Does the Geelong community want to be a Waterfront City with a port at its front door, inhibiting city growth and liveability?

As the city of Geelong grows in population, Geelong and the region understandably feel the pressure of accommodating more people, jobs and food production. However, when we look at the densities required in global cities to drive better public transport, innovative business start-ups and growth, a larger central population is just what Geelong needs.

The council region of Geelong is predicted to grow 38 percent by 2030, from current numbers of approximately 215,000 to estimates of 290,000. Local community is concerned about the impact that this and expanding urban growth boundaries will have on the city of Geelong and neighbouring coastal townships. Current urban expansion into prime agricultural land surrounding Geelong reduces the available area for food production in our region. This is in conflict with state and federal government priorities to increase regional food production for domestic use and export growth.

Increasing population growth within the city of Geelong is advantageous as it concentrates housing density and economic benefits in areas with existing physical infrastructure and amenities such as public transport, educational and health facilities. This is in conflict with current plans for heavy industry and port upgrades within our city boundary. The issue is not whether Geelong has a port, as it is an important economic industry supporting agricultural and industry exports, but where our regional port should be located.

 “The City of Greater Geelong, Geelong Port, port users and freight providers have worked collaboratively on the objective of making Geelong a world-leading Port-City – one in which the Port of Geelong grows its trade significantly in coming decades.” (Geelong Port-City 2050)

Currently our port is located on inside the city on the Corio Bay Inner Harbour, in an area originally outside the Geelong township. At an average depth of four metres, the need to dredge the Inner Harbour to support this port location has been constant since European occupation.  Relocating the port from the Geelong waterfront to the deeper Corio Bay Outer Harbour decreases the need to dredge, releasing city waterfront land for regeneration, creating northern waterfront suburbs.

Geelong Northern Suburbs WaterfrontThere is a regional push to maintain our port for regional exports and economic benefit. With a state commitment to build the direct rail linkup to the international Avalon Airport costed at $100 million (2013 Priority Projects: G21 Regional Plan Implementation, November 2013) the surrounding Corio Bay Outer Harbour area becomes a feasible site for port relocation providing an international transport hub in close proximity to the Geelong Ring Road Employment Precinct. With over $768 million dollars proposed for associated existing port facility upgrades (Geelong Port City 2050, July 2013) this funding allocation could be better spent on staging the port relocation and future proofing our city and port for the next 100 years.

Proposed Port upgrades to existing waterfront Geelong location

The timing is opportune with the Geelong Ford Factory staged for closure by 2016 and Shell Refinery looking to sell off its assets. The northern suburbs waterfront is estimated at 6+ kilometres of waterfront and 500+ hectares of land, more than twice the size of current urban regeneration projects at Melbourne Docklands and Barangaroo Sydney. The release of this highly valuable real estate will allow for mixed-use development, housing,  large-scale investment and jobs. The urban regeneration would require remediation of the land and local waterways and  sustainability criteria around building and precinct development.

The recent joint ‘Vision 2 strategy’ produced for the Geelong city centre by the City of Greater Geelong, state government, Deakin University and local business groups was deemed a great success. This model could be applied to the city of Geelong as a natural progression, to create our liveable city future strategy.

The benefits of regenerating industrial areas already serviced by city infrastructure and public transport, through the relocation of ports out of city centres, are demonstrated globally, from Nantes France to Copenhagen Denmark. Regenerating the northern suburbs is the opportunity to finally reconnect the city of Geelong creating a true city by the Bay, enjoyed by all.


Melbourne Docklands is a 190 hectare inner-city development extending the western edge of Melbourne’s CBD to the harbor. There is currently 7km of waterfront; 300hectares including waterways; 3.7 hectares of open space including 3 parks; 8,350 residents; and 38,000+ workers
Source: Places Victoria August 2013 [Melbourne Docklands information retrieved 6 November 2013 from http://www.docklands.com

Barangaroo is currently 22 hectares of disused container wharves, with 2.2km of waterfront land. When complete, Barangaroo will include six hectares of new headland park, waterfront walks, commercial office towers, apartments, serviced by new and extended transport systems.
Source: Barangaroo website [information retrieved 6 November from www.barangaroo.com]