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I’m finally getting round to writing my second blog post! Yes, it’s a little embarrassing that the first one has been sitting there since before Livewell Yarra was launched on 5 March. I can only plead that it’s been a busy time since then, but I’ll also declare my earnest resolve to have a new post at least once a month, and hopefully more frequently.

A couple of hundred people attended the March launch at Fitzroy Town Hall – and you might have been among them – and since then we’ve had two Orientation Workshops and set up six Decarb groups. In case you don’t know, these are groups of about five to twelve people who meet monthly to support each other to reduce their carbon emissions. Most of the groups have meet three times so far, and members are sharing information about all the practical ways in which they are seeking to cut their carbon.

We’re also starting a workshop series on the first Thursday of each month, and details of these are on the homepage. I’m looking forward to learning a lot from them myself!

What makes Livewell happen?

But what I want to talk about here is what makes Livewell happen… or rather, who makes it happen. I concluded the first post by acknowledging in general terms the support we had received to that point, but said I would say more about this in the next blog, so here goes.

When I first conceived of Livewell, I saw it as a venture that would, in the main, draw on the assets of local communities, that is, on the skills, knowledge, efforts, passions, material resources and contacts of those who got involved, and on the wider circle of organisations and individuals called upon for further help.

And that’s how it’s working out. More than twenty volunteer core team members* have worked with PhD student Darren Sharp and myself to make the decisions and do the work involved in what we have done so far, despite having very busy lives already.

Yarra Council and Yarra Energy Foundation have help us with wise advice, free use of premises and help in promoting our events. Further advice, the provision of speakers and promotional help have come from the Alternative Technology Association, Moreland Energy Foundation, the Climate and Health Alliance, Yarra Climate Action Now, Beyond Zero Emissions, Friends of the Earth and others. Some people have helped in very specific ways, including Brendan O’Shea in the making of our video, Marianna Berek-Lewis in graphic design and Alan Pears through his technical help on carbon reduction methods and carbon measurement.

Involving new participants

A key next step is to invite current participants in the Decarb groups to become involved in tasks that enable Livewell to operate and development, because a self-reliant community organisation must have this involvement of participants if it is to function effectively.

Livewell is an action research project. We want to see if it can continue to develop – and in so doing keep starting new Decarb groups so that more and more people can have a peer-support group to help them to reduce their carbon – while drawing mainly on the resources that participants and local communities have to offer. The jury is still out but the signs are promising.

*Core team members who have helped in some way since early this year: Gillian Le, Niina Kautto, Adeline Tan, Crina Virgona, Barry Dyson, Susan Inglis, Emma Fawcett, Ines Carvalho, Kirsty Richards, Lisa Magnusson, Martin Leckey, Camryn Rothenbury, Chris Moss, Alison Wood, Georg Molz, Cath O’Shea, Brendan O’Shea, Warwick Stone, Ellen Buswell, Hayley Shipp-Tink, Carolyn Ingvarson, Emmanuelle Delomenede and Aparna Sethi.

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Livewell started as an action research project funded by the Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Low Carbon Living, delivered through Curtin University and supported by the City of Yarra and Yarra Energy Foundation. Further funding was then provided by the CRC to produce the online Guide to running a ‘Livewell Group’

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