Speech to Parliament: Clovelly Road Better Block

On 27 October this year I was fortunate to attend the Clovelly Road Better Block. This was an event that was held on the northern boundary of my electorate of Kingsford Smith.

The event involved the redesign of the local community and the redesign of local public space to make it greener, safer and more livable.

The better block program was the idea of Andrew Howard, and it was conceived in New York in the United States. It involves a community coming together to redesign their community to make it a more livable, a greener space and a better place to live.

Since it began a couple of years ago there have been more than 40 better blocks throughout the world. Their goal is a simple one: to encourage locals to reimagine their streets and turn their ideas into something that people can see, touch and feel.

For the event in Kingsford Smith, the community came together and transformed one of the blocks on Clovelly Road, quite a busy thoroughfare in my electorate.

In the lead-up to this, they held meetings where locals, businesses, community organisations and local politicians came together to imagine what the street and block could look like and what they wanted it to look like.

Importantly, they consulted children. They asked children what sort of environment they would like to live in. One of those children was Archie Stubbs. He spoke quite eloquently on the day about the fact that kids simply wanted the cars to drive a little bit slower down their streets so they could ride their bikes safely. That is not too hard. Archie is 13 years old.

When they originated this program, the sidewalk was widened, the speed limit was lowered, the street was green with plants and flowers lining the footpath, outdoor seating was installed and art shows, coffee shops and bookshops popped up along the side of the street. The street came alive. The result was a village-style atmosphere on the fringe of the biggest city in Australia.

The organisers obtained council approval. They attracted about 2,000 visitors. I was fortunate to visit. It was a fun, uplifting experience which showed the true potential of a space normally used solely for getting from A to B.

There were a lot of volunteers involved. I want to thank in particular Phil Stubbs, the organiser from the community who was the brainchild behind this. Phil said about the day:

"Suddenly the street was better. Better for people. For kids. For older people. For families. For dogs. It had art. It had music. It had food on the footpath. It became a more human place."

I would like to thank Clovelly Road Better Block and all the volunteers and supporters for their hard work and efforts.


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