In February this year in Tingha - a case study in community regeneration, I reported on the efforts of Bob Neville and the local community to rebuild Tingha from the bottom up. I followed this in March with an Armidale Express column, Belshaw’s World: Overcoming the curse of local self-interest that dealt in part with the Tingha project. Then I gave another progress report, Tingha Community Regeneration Continues, at the end of March.
So how has the project gone since then? Pretty well, I think, if the latest newsletter is any guide. You will find all the newsletters here.
Any project of this type has to work along two dimensions.
Dimension one is improvement of the town's social and physical infrastructure. This type of work is part visual (cleaning up and beautifying), part social (building community links), part service (building local facilities). On the surface, the project appears to be tracking fairly well here.
Dimension two is economic, you have to attract extra income if you are to create sustainable improvement. Here Bob Neville took the view that action was required on dimension one first before much could be done on two. Now the project is moving on the second. The project took over the local caravan park, and has now moved to establish a community nursery and worm farm based around the growing of feijoa fruit.
All this action takes time and persistence to build skills and get things in place. Both have been there in spades.
If I have a criticism, and its an intuitive feel only, the project needs to look more outside Tingha. Sometimes on these things you have to start selling the sizzle while the steak is still cooking.
Just as a matter of interest, I did a search on Tingha in the surrounding newspapers. Now here I was quite disappointed. Apart from sport, I had no idea just how strong Tingha was here, Tingha doesn't feature, nor does the project itself, nor do Tingha's attractions. Now not all stuff is on line, my own Express column is not, but even so I was left with the feeling that Tingha was not marketing itself very well.