‘Slow street’ initiative drives stronger community connections

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Ginninderry is a community where residents from all walks of life connect and form friendships. This is in part thanks to slow street events that bring the community together, utilising the street’s natural infrastructure (green spaces and slow streets) to help create a sense of connection among residents.

 

Recently two events have been held, one on Tredwell Street and one a few blocks away on Fairbrother Street. These events were led by resident Samantha Geerlings – with the help of the Ginninderry Community Grant, Dr Cathy Hope from the University of Canberra and Ginninderry’s Community Development Manager, Tulitha King.

Inspired by the first event on Tredwell Street in March 2022, Samantha was determined to create her own. After recently moving to Ginninderry, she was heartened by the small acts of kindness at the hands of her neighbours. From preparing meals for her soon-to-be-born baby to hand-knitted baby rugs, Samantha wanted everyone on and around Fairbrother Street to feel the power of connection and community support.

“I was really enthusiastic about having an opportunity to bring back a village vibe, and I thought a street party was a great way to do that. Partly because it was winter and no one was getting out; after COVID, everyone had been so used to social isolation,” says Samantha

“I wanted to do something where it’s a bit cosy, with a campfire and hot beverages, some lovely acoustic music and activities for the kids. The kind of event where people can waltz down, take a seat, have a chat, and connect.”

 

Over the two hours, more than 60 residents filtered through – sharing stories, many laughs and taking home long-lasting connections.

“There were little kids at the obstacle course who were playing, but also adults joining in. And there were people just holding their pots of coffee and chatting with others.”

“There were elderly people with walking sticks being aided by others to find good seating, people from all different ages interacting with each other. Just seeing that diversity was so awesome,” reflects Samantha.

 

Over at Tredwell Street, a similar event was taking shape – this time bringing the community together in the form of a long lunch. As Cathy explains, the last slow street event created an intimate space for residents to come together and share a taste of their world.

“The most wonderful thing about that street party was that people brought food and shared food from their own kitchen. I think that was probably one of the most moving things that have happened at any of our events.”

“Food is such a bonding thing – it’s such a great opportunity to share something personal with friends, neighbours and community members.”

“And then, because Ginninderry has such a mix of cultures living there, the food was so diverse – it was just wonderful,” says Cathy.

 

While this was the final event of the slow street initiative, Cathy feels confident that through passionate community members like Samantha – residents will continue to unite Ginninderry streets long into the future.

“It’s clear that having residents lead events is so powerful. Samantha is out there in the community all the time, catching up with people and saying hi to neighbours. So having community champions out there to build those relationships makes these street-scale events really effective,” says Cathy.

 

You can keep updated on future slow street events by following the Village Heart Collective Facebook Page or keep an eye on the Ginninderry events page.