I believe WA is leading the country in the newly informed ‘Town Team Community Organisational Movement’ towards a successful model of community led redevelopment and place activation. Town centre focused community groups are developing themselves at Place Leaders leaning towards sharing and ‘do-it-yourself’ as the new solution of community and economic growth. Active citizenship, community initiatives and sharing though community networks and digital platforms are assisting in the development of a renewed local identity and co-operative community vision.
One of the groups leading this movement is Shape Mandurah. The community group provides a new willingness for community participation and place activation, which has resulted in community residents feeling empowered and showcasing the confidence to undertake their own creative streetscape and/or activation projects. For example, in a recent grant funding activation project under the place leadership of Shape Mandurah, a local ‘community champion’ and street artist, Tahnee Kelland, came up with an idea for a beautiful new laneway revitalization project. Before she could realise what was actually happening her idea was being developed and planned for implementation. ‘But wait’ she commented, ‘I didn’t know we were actually allowed to do that…’ was her reaction before given the opportunity to facilitate a beautiful and chaotic streetscape improvement, which is now an icon in the community.
As a result of the project, businesses have started to acknowledge economic improvements and there is more recognition of a renewed energetic town centre. The community feel a sense of pride and ownership contributing to the town centre improvements and there is a strong understanding and enthusiasm towards placemaking and community leadership. Shape Mandurah will next facilitate a community led street party to showcase the laneway and other improvements in the nearby public realm.
The case study presents a positive example of a town team community group providing ‘Place Leadership’ to facilitate the means and program for a redevelopment and creative arts project and the ability for our ‘Community Champion’, Tahnee to undertake the works with the assistance of active community volunteers. The project provides strong evidence that community led willingness and a bottom-up approach can be just as powerful as large bureaucratic and corporate organisations.