Livewell updates

Join us for the Livewell AGM


Dear Livewell friends and supporters

You are invited to attend the Annual General Meeting of Livewell Clusters Incorporated on Tuesday 22 November 2016, 7-9 pm at the Collingwood Library Meeting Room, Stanton St Collingwood (opposite the town hall and next to Collingwood Station).

The evening will include:
· A short formal AGM, with general and financial reports and the selection of next year’s committee.
· A motion to change the name of the incorporated association from ‘Livewell Clusters Incorporated’ to ‘The Livewell Project Incorporated’.
· A round-table discussion addressing the question: ‘What has to happen for Yarra to become a zero-carbon city?’ preceded by an introduction to the topic by Friends of the Earth Campaigns Coordinator and 2014 Frank Fisher Award winner Cam Walker. (We are talking here about zero-carbon for the whole Yarra community, not just the council, and we are focusing on what ordinary residents can do to advance this goal.)
· Food and drinks and time to chat, as this winds up the year for Livewell.

After a busy 2015, this year has been quieter for Livewell, but two developments are worth noting.

Firstly, we are hopeful of gaining funding from the City of Yarra for several projects related to composting and to low-carbon living for renters and apartment dwellers (and we may have news on this by the time of the AGM).

Secondly, we obtained additional funding from the Cooperative Research Centre for Low Carbon Living to produce an online Guide to Starting a Livewell Group. This has now been produced and will be distributed to sustainability departments in local councils across Australia in early 2017. Staff in these departments will be invited to publicise the Guide in their municipalities so that anyone who wants to start up a Livewell Group with their friends, neighbours or others they know can do so.

We hope you can join us for this occasion. RSVP to, and we invite you to bring a plate.

You’re invited: Livewell Yarra Planning Day

Livewell Yarra Planning Day
Come to our Planning Day on 21 February, from 12 noon -3pm at Holden St Neighbourhood House in North Fitzroy.

Join us to set some climate action goals for the coming year!

RSVP details are on the flyer.

We hope to see you there!

The Livewell Core-Team

Leading With Our Strengths: Research Update

The last few months have been a very busy time for Livewell Yarra with Decarb groups continuing to form and lots of events and activities to keep everyone engaged. Livewell PhD Candidate Darren Sharp facilitated two asset mapping workshops in August with a number of Livewell participants at Mark St Hall in North Fitzroy.

Asset-based community development (ABCD) is a strength-based approach Darren is utilising as part of his PhD research on ‘Stewarding Low Carbon Communities’.  ABCD has been successfully used in the community sector to reveal the hidden assets of individuals and views communities as the starting point for change and abundant in capacity for change at the grassroots level.

Darren’s research is trying to discover whether ABCD can build capacity for Livewell participants to take actions that reduce carbon emissions. Livewell participants were inducted into the ABCD process by initially sharing stories of success in reaching personal carbon reduction goals. Storytelling can become a powerful catalyst for ‘inside-out’ or community-led change when people are invited to participate in a change process as active citizens.


At the asset mapping workshops, Livewell participants were invited to map individual assets, referred to as gifts of the head (things I know about), gifts of the heart (things I care about) and gifts of  the hands (skills I know how to do). These assets took many forms including knowledge about languages, passion for helping asylum seekers and hands-on skills in composting. These gifts can then become an anchor for individual and collective decision-making around specific actions and help focus goal-setting based on existing capacities.

With the personal assets of Livewell participants revealed the next stage involved mapping relationships to local organisations, associations and institutions.

A Livewell Yarra asset map has been created. Let Darren know if you would like to add your gifts to the map (Email: This map is a starting  point to match Livewell participants’ assets with opportunities to take actions that reduce carbon emissions, assist decarb groups, projects or the wider community.

This research is interested in finding out how asset maps can be used to reveal a ‘system level’ perspective on the interconnected resources that exist within a community for the purpose of enabling action on carbon reduction.

Asset mapping is a participant-driven way to make the invisible visible, help local communities connect the dots in their neighbourhoods and reveal new pathways for active citizenship.

Community assets

Following on from this, Livewell recently held its AGM  and ran a community visioning exercise using an approach called Dream Pair Share.

People paired off and created three phrases or images to describe the community they would most want to be part of at some point in the future. Next the pairs shared their visions and the reasons behind them with their partner, then chose three dreams they would like to bring to the larger group.

Teams put each dream on a post-it note and added them to the appropriately titled dream wall. Similar dreams were clustered together and people picked the cluster they were most drawn to. Groups then self-organised around a number of project ideas on cycling, the sharing economy, community connections and participatory democracy.

The next stage of the research involves taking these project ideas and developing them through a using a co-design process. This will start by assembling design teams who use brainstorming to develop as many ideas as possible related to the potential project. The focus converges on a shortlist of ideas which are selected for the creation of simple paper-based prototypes using markers and paper.


This ‘rapid prototyping’ will be used to generate, test and refine ideas using emergent collaboration. Prototypes will then be reviewed for desirability, feasibility and viability, with the most promising turned into pilot projects.

The first of our co-design workshops is coming up and will assist the ‘Bike Curious’ team to develop an early stage buddy system concept to match riders and non-riders in the City of Yarra. Get in touch if you’re interested in participating or would like Darren to run a co-design session with your  Livewell project group.



First Thursday Workshops starting 2 July

In April we ran two Orientation Workshops, and those of you who were there told us what you wanted to learn more about.

We’ve now scheduled a series of workshops to cover topics that were popular at those workshops, starting on Thursday 2 July at 7 pm.

This is the beginning of our First Thursday Workshop series that will be held on the first Thursday of each month at the Mark St Hall, 1 Mark St North Fitzroy. (If you’ve attended a Boite world music event, it’s in the same building.) Refreshments provided, the event is free but we accept donations. The first three events are:

Reducing Your Home Energy Use

Thursday 2 July, 7-9 pm.

Presented by Positive Charge, a social enterprise run by Moreland Energy Foundation.

Learn a range of practical ways to reduce energy consumption, suitable for people on different budgets and for owners and renters. Also some attention to solar panels.

Please RSVP here:

A Bonus event for July!

Professor Peter Newman: Sustainable Cities – The Good News!

We all know the bad news: the bleak predictions of what climate change will do to our world if we don’t change radically; the pathetic, head-in-the-sand Federal Government response, beholden as they are to fossil fuel interests; and more…

Now hear the good news about developments in Australia and round the world that are leading to real carbon reductions: shifts from cars to 21st century public transport systems, cycling and walking; from urban sprawl to more compact, ‘biophilic’ cities planned for people; from polluting fossil fuels to clean renewables.

Thursday 9 July, 6.30 – 7.45 pm, also at Mark St Hall, 1 Mark St North Fitzroy.

Please RSVP here:

Having Conversations about Climate Change

Thursday 6 August, 7-9 pm

You can engage people you know in reducing their carbon, but we all know this can be difficult. How do you have conversations about climate change and the possibilities for low carbon, high quality living without preaching or being seen as too earnest? How do deal with common responses like “It’s up to the government” or “I’ve got too many things other things to worry about at the moment”? This interactive session will explore such questions and help you to feel more confident about having powerful, productive conversations on climate change and carbon reduction.

Decarbonising Your Money

Thursday 3 September, 7-9 pm

The money you have in the bank, in super or in investments has a life of its own. What is it doing while you are at work, visiting friends or walking the dog? Is it funding fossil fuel exploration or high carbon industries? Or the shift towards a zero carbon way of life? The choice is yours. You can divest from the former and invest in the latter, and this session will tell you how you can do this while maintaining decent returns on your investments.

Future First Thursday Workshop topics may include: Reducing Carbon for Renters and Apartment Dwellers, Living Waste-Free (or as close as you can to it), and Low Carbon Eating: A buying, growing and cooking guide.

So we hope to see you at Mark St some time!

Sign up and get into decarb action!

Some members of the Livewell core team who have their own Decarb group called Carbon Miranda.
Some members of the Livewell core team who have their own Decarb group called 'Carbon Miranda'.

Some members of the Livewell core team who have their own Decarb group called ‘Carbon Miranda’.

We now have ten possible Decarb groups to start in the City of Yarra.

These are based on the days and times of the week that those of you who’ve indicated your availability have told us suit you. We hope to begin these groups in the week beginning 13 April.

This provides an opportunity for you to join a group of people near you who – like you – want to reduce their carbon footprint without sacrificing wellbeing – in fact in many ways you can enhance it! You will be able to provide each other with information, encouragement and practical assistance – and have a good time in the process.

We’ll send your group a monthly ideas sheet with suggestions for activities that can help you, and there will workshops, this website and advice at hand to provide you with the information you need.

The likely groups are as follows (with the suburbs in brackets indicating where they may be located, though this will ultimately be up to those who join them):

  • Group 1 Monday afternoon (Collingwood/Abbotsford)
  • Group 2 Monday evening (Nth Fitzroy, Fitzroy)
  • Group 3 Tuesday evening (Nth Fitzroy, Clifton Hill, Collingwood/Abbotsford, Fitzroy)
  • Group 4 Wednesday morning (Nth Carlton / Princes Hill)
  • Group 5 Wednesday evening (Clifton Hill)
  • Group 6 Wednesday evening (Richmond)
  • Group 7 Thursday afternoon (Nth Carlton / Princes Hill)
  • Group 8 Thursday evening (Nth Fitzroy, Clifton Hill)
  • Group 9 Saturday afternoon (Fitzroy)
  • Group 10 Sunday afternoon (Nth Fitzroy, Fitzroy)

So if you’d like to join a Decarb please write to us at and tell us which group you want to join.

And for more information about Decarb groups click here.

Livewell Yarra is launched!

A crowd of attendees seated in the Fitzroy Town Hall for the Livewell Launch, with speaker Ross Garnaut at the lectern.
Guest speaker Ross Garnaut addresses the crowd of attendees of the Livewell Yarra Launch, seated in the illustrious Fitzroy Town Hall.

Guest speaker Ross Garnaut addresses the crowd of attendees at the Livewell Yarra Launch, in Fitzroy Town Hall.

Around two hundred people came to the Fitzroy Town Hall on the evening of Thursday 5 March to witness the launch of Livewell Yarra.

Following the official launch by Yarra Mayor, Cr Philip Vlahogiannis, there were speeches by Professor Ross Garnaut, author of the Garnaut Climate Change Reviews, and Fiona Armstrong, Founder of the Climate and Health Alliance.

Many of those present signed up to decarb groups that will soon be appearing in neighbourhoods across Yarra. The members of these groups will support each other to reduce their carbon footprints while getting the information and support they need from the broader Livewell organisation.

All three speakers stressed the importance of communities organising to reduce carbon and commended the Livewell initiative.

Cr Vlahogiannis spoke of the Council’s commitment to achieve zero carbon emissions from stationary energy (electricity and gas) in the whole of Yarra – not just Council operations – by 2020.

Ross Garnaut discussed how, if we don’t limit climate change to two degrees, it could spell the end of our civilisation. But on the bright side he described how the price of renewable technologies have come down significantly, making them affordable for many more people, and there has also been an increase in energy efficiency, meaning that energy consumption in Australia sightly declines each year instead of slightly increasing. But he felt strongly that Australia needed a much more ambitious carbon reduction target by 2020 than a 5% reduction on 2000 levels.

Fiona Armstrong highlighted the health and wellbeing benefits of low carbon living. For example, ‘active transport’ (walking, cycling and public transport) improves health through the exercise it provides, and it also promotes incidental social contact and thus strengthens community. On the other hand Fiona pointed out that air pollution (much of it from cars) causes more deaths per year in Australia than car accidents do.

Livewell project leader Rob Salter spoke about how people’s beliefs about the need to reduce carbon didn’t necessarily translate into action. This, he said, was why it was useful to join a group so that members could support and encourage each other to take action.

Livewell doctoral researcher Darren Sharp discussed how the project will be drawing on the ‘assets’ of participants – their skills, knowledge, contacts and passion, or what he refers to as the gifts of the head, heart and hands.

One gift of the heart on the night came in the form of talented young singer-songwriter Jade Alice’s performance of her own composition, Beautiful Earth.

Eyal Halamish was our fabulous MC for the evening and added good humour and energy to the proceedings.

A core team of volunteers who have been planning the Livewell project for the past eight months were on hand to welcome and assist those attending the launch. Some were dressed as ‘Carbon Miranda’, a Livewell variant of Carmen Miranda, the Latin American singer and dancer who was popular from the 1930s to the 1950s.

And the President of Livewell Clusters Inc and event manager for the launch, Gillian Le, was acknowledged and presented with a gift for her efforts in organising the event so well.

It all starts with the launch

Join Professor Ross Garnaut (second from right) and Susan Inglis, Darren Sharp, Crina Virgona and Rob Salter from Livewell Clusters at the Livewell Launch.

Join Professor Ross Garnaut (second from right) and Susan Inglis, Darren Sharp, Crina Virgona and Rob Salter from Livewell Clusters at the Livewell Launch.

The Livewell Yarra Launch on 5 March will give the people of Yarra a new means to reduce their carbon footprint while still enjoying the great lifestyle the city offers. In fact, reducing your carbon can make you even happier and healthier, save you money and strengthen your links with neighbours.

So if you live, work or study in the area come along to Fitzroy Town Hall on 5 March at 7 pm and find out how it will happen. Registration open from 6:45pm.

A low carbon future for Australia

Guest speakers Professor Ross Garnaut and Fiona Armstrong will briefly set out the benefits that a low carbon future offers Australia. Ross is the author of the two Garnaut Climate Change Reviews commissioned by the Federal Government in 2008 and 2011.  Fiona is the founder and convenor of the Climate and Health Alliance, which highlights how much our health depends on low carbon living.

How you can get into action

Then the focus will shift to how Livewell Yarra will work, and how you can get together in groups to help each other reduce your emissions. If you’re up to it, we’re actually going to help you form into these ‘decarb groups’ (as we’re calling them) right there at the launch.

Livewell Yarra will support the decarb groups with information, advice and a range of fun activities. Experience shows that people find it much easier to reduce their carbon footprint if they have the right information, the support of their peers and a process that helps them to get into action.

What’s behind Livewell

Livewell Yarra is the first Livewell Cluster. Livewell Clusters is an action research project of the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Low Carbon Living, a federally-funded national consortium of universities, the CSIRO, businesses and government bodies. The project is sponsored by Curtin University and supported by the City of Yarra and Yarra Energy Foundation. It has access to relevant knowledge and expertise not only through these institutions but also through local organisations focusing on low carbon living.

Livewell is also working with Yarra Energy Foundation and the City of Yarra on Project Zero, which aims to see carbon emissions from energy use in the entire city reduced to zero by 2020. You can be part of making Yarra a city that sets the pace for the rest of Australia!

So come along!

Be in it from the beginning and come along to the Livewell Yarra Launch on 5 March. Bring your friends, family, neighbours, work colleagues and anyone else! There’s no charge – it’s free!

Please RSVP by 26th February to help us with arrangements. We hope to see you there!

Get your free tickets by registering on Eventbrite. You also have the option to make a donation, which is greatly appreciated. Alternatively, email Rob Salter.

You can also join our Facebook event.