Friday, 18 April 2008


Our recently elected Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has a vision for 2020. He wants to see a revival of the 'sense of community' and he has a plan for how to do it. This involves parents and their children having a central 'one-stop-shop' for things like child-care, preschool education, health information and services and all the things required by children under 5 years of age. So, while children are cared for by 'professional' child-carers they would be able to be weighed and have their physical development checked, be seen by a doctor, dentist and so on and their parents would have this as a space to interact with other parents and other children when leaving their children and collecting them. All very warm and fuzzy and no doubt a line that could be sold relatively easily to busy parents . Of course, by 2020, Kevin Rudd will probably not be the Prime Minister to see this all come to fruition as this all will take lots of tax-payers' money, lots of planning and building and it will require a great deal of re-organisation of all the current facilities in the whole of Australia.

I have a different plan to revive the sense of community. It is simply to give each family a plot of ground at a community garden in their area, on the birth of one or more children, together with a fork and a trowel and a few packets of vegetable seeds. As well, they would receive membership of a local garden group or seedsavers group who would personally help them get their plot started and help them make a success of it. In this way there would be a real sense of community in every suburb where people could really feel good about what they were doing, their children would get exposure to soil, plants, other families and no doubt pizza ovens, BBQ's and other innovations would spring up and give people a centre to come to where they can communicate with neighbours, give as well as receive help and get their fingers into that greatest of all soul-enhancers, soil.

The extra benefits could be tantalisingly effective and spin a web to the very outer edges of society in general. Exercise, access to better nutrition, connection to others - these would form the base for the next level - less trips to the doctor, less stress or the ability to manage stress better, built-in child care from other mums and dads, improved mental well-being and reduced reliance on bought foods. People who are active and involved in their communities are less likely to commit crimes or become disillusioned with life. If we spin to the outer reaches of the web we would see reduced green-house gas emissions, firstly from food derived organically and secondly locally, with less transport, less processing and less use of vehicles as people realise the potential of walking or riding to the community gardens and growing more of their own food. The gardens themselves could run courses in conjunction with each other, on every facet of life to help young families succeed in gaining the confidence to take charge of their health and budget and even contribute to improving the state of the world!

This is not a pie in the sky idea. It is a simple, possible, relatively cheap and manageable way to turn around the struggles and make something really, really great. It is a way forward, instead of backwards or sideways, to a better future for you, me and the planet.

I am available should Mr. Rudd want to discuss this further. Let's turn the 'Kevin 07' election slogan into 'Kevin 11' - in time for the next election. That would give us 3 years from now to get the land organised and get this programme going by 2011. How about it Kevin? Roll up your sleeves and get Australia growing, from the roots up.


Jumbleberry Jam said...

Brilliant! :-)

Ian said...

Perhaps you should start running for 2011! :-)

Kate said...

More like running away, Ian! Unless they'd let me run the world from this blog! Now that's something I would like to do - benevolent dictator Kate!

Belinda said...

Hi Kate,

Certainly agree a whole lot more with your idea... probably won't get any more people out gardening, desperation hasn't got to the point of overriding hesitation just yet, but hey those community gardens would be a huge asset... than "Kev's".

Like we really need further centralsation of services..... What the heck isn't community about everyone not just parents. Where did it takes a village to raise a child go?
!!Better stop this vent here!!

Kind Regards

Dave said...

Great plan, it will be interesting to see if the politicians try to capitalize on your ideas. Here in the US our pea patches create a great sense of community and yet each one is different because each grower uses different methods and have different dietary needs. Some years ago we were involved in a garden to market program for children at risk. Being able to raise produce and do simple economic exchanges through this program was the only thing keeping many of these kids in a home and out of jail.
Hope your plan gets exposure and moves ahead.

chaiselongue said...

This is a brilliant idea, Kate! And children would love it. I like the idea of communal pizza ovens, just like the old times in villages here in France and in other countries where everyone took their bread, stews, etc. to village ovens - economical and good for the community and the planet!