Last weekend a friend took me to CERES, a community- based sustainability centre, located in Brunswick, Melbourne. It’s located next to the Merri Creek, and was a place of cultural significance for thousands of years to the Wurundjeri people. Then this little piece of paradise became a quarry, and then a dumping site (*insert slow clap here*). CERES was established in 1982 to try to rehabilitate the site, and it’s now a beautiful and productive community project that was lovely to visit.
“We are a not-for-loss community business. We run extensive environmental education programs, urban agriculture projects, green technology demonstrations and a number of social enterprises including a market, grocery, café, community kitchen, organic online supermarket and a permaculture and bushfood nursery.” – ceres.org.au
There is a lot to it. Most of the land that I saw was dedicated to urban farming initiatives and they run various farming, gardening, cooking and sustainability courses (including a permaculture training course that is supposed to be among the leading courses in Australia). It’s beautifully done. The vegetables are grown on site, and sold in the grocery store, also onsite. There is a nursery, a restaurant, various play areas, a pavilion, a place where they host festivals and parties and a dam. There is also a bike shed where people donate bicycles and you can go and help yourself to parts and get some advice and assistance from people in the know on bike mechanics.
What really drew my attention, naturally, was all the onsite renewables. There’s a lot of solar PV installed. They have an EV or electric bike charging station, what looks like a (massive) solar cooker, and a range of different types of micro-wind turbines dotted around the place.
In the bottom picture, you can see a series of boards with posters on them. Visitors are invited to walk through this exercise which challenges them to consider the impact that their lifestyle choices have on Australia’s future. It’s an empowering exercise, because it links consumer habits, transport habits and opinions on family size and migration policy (amongst other things) directly with various future scenarios. Consumer habits are cross referenced with population impact values, and your future is determined on a small matrix.
Here are some (poorly taken) photos to show how the exercise works.
Excuse the quality of the photos – I was in a bit of a rush. The exercise has clearly been there for a while, and is showing signs of ageing. But it’s an interest concept, and it is valuable to link individual decisions to a greater future vision.
It’s a lovely place to visit, and if you’re in the area I do recommend popping by.