In February 2011 I wrote that I had been contacted by residents who nominated Phillip & Gladstone Streets Newtown as being an area that was hot & barren, used as a place for dumping unwanted household goods & in desperate need of street trees. It was exactly as they described. I wrote, See – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/02/03/desperately-needing-street-trees/
Residents had been in communication with Marrickville Council asking Council to plant street trees in this area. At first Council said they did not have the funds to put street trees in this location. However, after some meetings, & I presume seeing the location & how keen the community were, Council decided they would remove some concrete from the footpath & plant 4 African Tulip trees (Spathodea tulipera) & 8 Water gums – a total of 12 trees. Needless to say the community were ecstatic. I wrote about this here – http://savingourtrees.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/street-tree-win-for-newtown-residents/
I made a 1-minute video of this area last February 2011 before the street trees were planted - http://bit.ly/ymnapV
In September 2011 concrete was removed, the tree pits were dug & new street trees were planted along both sides of Gladstone Street. However, instead of the planned 4 African Tulip trees, Council planted 4 Firewheel trees.
At some time before the street trees were planted 2 residents decided to see if other local residents would be interested in meeting to discuss how to green the area & make it more livable & visually appealing. They took the plunge by doing a letterbox drop inviting residents of Phillip Street to the first meeting. Much to their delight 20 people turned up. 7 meetings later & the original members are still involved, plus others who come on occasions. Isn’t this wonderful.
They decided to call themselves ‘The Phillip & Gladstone Street Pride Group.’ They meet once a month, discuss ideas, report on progress with Marrickville Council, share news & spend some time cleaning the street of litter, weeding & watering around street trees & planting these areas with small plants & flowers.
The group has also spoken with a local business on Gladstone Street that has a stretch of garden bed next to the footpath. The business has allowed the group to do what they like with this garden bed, so a couple of Jacaranda trees have been planted in the empty space between 2 other trees. A mass of weeds was removed & the bed is in the process of being planted out with a variety of small plants. Both the business & the residents are winners here.
Forming this community group has brought the local community together & other local residents have asked for the group’s help in getting more street trees in their section of the street. People who did not know each other before do so now. The street is friendlier & helpful to each other & residents are learning how to propagate plants to keep costs down. While we were in Gladstone Street another member of The Phillip & Gladstone Street Pride Group returned home from the train & joined us.
Alfalfa House (also known as the Enmore Co-op) at the corner of Enmore Road & Phillip Street are also supportive of this community initiative. They decided to have the graffiti removed from their side wall by painting a very nice colourful mural which the locals think has improved the streetscape immensely. Eventually, the areas around the street trees outside the Co-op will also be planted out.
The Enmore Theatre is contributing by looking at ways to try to manage the litter that is dropped by theatre goers as this often ends up in Phillip Street. I think it is wonderful that local businesses have become involved & are supportive of the group’s ambition to beautify this area.
What was also interesting was that there was no dumped goods on the street whereas 12-months ago this area was the place to take your unwanted mattress or TV set.
One disappointment has been the removal of a number of Casuarina trees located between the back of the power station & the railway line. These trees were on Railcorp land & provided a block of green on the skyline blocking out the view of passing trains & significantly reducing the noise. Railcorp have said that these trees will be replaced.
So what started as residents’ frustration at the barrenness & ugliness of Gladstone Street has now developed into a strong friendly group that is bringing both residents & local business together to make this area a much nicer place to live on a number of levels.
Marrickville Council have been very supportive of this initiative & had a couple of onsite meetings with the residents discussing options for street work that Council will approve. Council has also offered to bring mulch to the street for the residents to use on their verge gardens.
I feel happy to be able to write about this positive outcome arising from community lobbying Marrickville Council & that they did plant much needed street trees in Gladstone Street. Council can be sure that these trees will be watered & cared for as they are already very much loved.
I am also happy to write that The Phillip & Gladstone Street Pride Group feel supported by Marrickville Council. This is such an important thing as they know that the work they do to beautify the streetscape will not be removed & they have been able to work with local businesses with confidence that any new initiative along the same lines will be supported by Council.
Local residents should not fear setting up a community group in their street because Marrickville Council have demonstrated that they are willing to assist, provide advice & help as needed. Hopefully in time, more of these community groups will be established. When people have pride in their area, there is more happiness & community cohesion. Greening an area also has tremendous benefits on mental, physical & spiritual health of which I have written about on many occasions.
Well done to The Phillip & Gladstone Street Pride Group & to Marrickville Council.