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Thursday, May 26, 2011

DCSCA at youth camp

DCSCA was one of several community groups invited to take part in a 'world cafe' at a youth leadership camp on 22-24 May near Torquay. The Bellarine Youth Development Network organised the camp for young people on the North Bellarine.

The 'world cafe' is a bit like speed dating for groups! Each community group sat at a table in a large room, the sixty young people at the camp were divided into groups of seven or eight and moved from one table to another, spending about seven minutes at each one. The result? A very lively and noisy crash course for each side!

DCSCA was represented by its Secretary, Patrick Hughes, who gave each group a three-minute introduction to community associations in general and the work of DCSCA in particular, then asked each group what sorts of changes they would like to see in their area. People wanted to see various facilities and amenities and these were by no means exclusively youth-oriented. For example, they called for more buses between Drysdale & Ocean Grove and between Drysdale and central Geelong (especially useful for people working in Geelong); more frequent mowing of grass around the tennis courts; some public toilets in the town; for the local skateboard park to be extended and kept clean and for a pedestrian crossing nearby; for somewhere in town to go to the movies; and for better street lighting to improve pedestrian safety.

As well as those specific items, people were also concerned with the overall feel of their area. They asked for a wildlife park, for more parks/open spaces in general and for 'just more colour!' This was good to hear, as it confirmed that DCSCA is on the right track in two of its projects - an Open Spaces Network, in which parks/open spaces (including a second Nature Reserve for the Bellarine) will be linked by walking/cycling trails; and Streetscape to Artscape , in which artists will work with local people to create and install art objects throughout our towns. Finally, there were calls for things which are perhaps more youth-oriented - a shop selling musical instruments, a Macdonalds, a nightclub and somewhere to just drop in, hang out and chill.

It was hard to tell what the young people at the camp made of the 'world cafe', but towards the end of their camp they will evaluate the whole experience and we will look forward to learning their views. From DCSCA's perspective, it was a very valuable exercise because it gave us a chance to hear directly from young people about what they want for their area. The DCSCA Committee is trying to involve younger people in its activities and this was a good opportunity to introduce ourselves and - just as importantly - to hear young people talk about their area and how DCSCA might help them to make things happen.

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