Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Tingha Community Regeneration Project update

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.          


Christine Hall said...

While intimately involved with the project I can see that Bob Nevilles approach is working and it needs to reach a further stage before we say "look at us now" Theres so much on the ground work happening, when this all comes together it will be then time for wider exposure?

The TRI group like most community groups also requires volunteers to step forward for some of the projects.The volunteers we have now are doing a fabulous job but more are needed.

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi Christine

I think that you are right on wider exposure. Sell what you have after you have to sell it. Otherwise the risks are too great.

That said, I think the project is at the stage where greater but selective exposure is warranted. In considering this, remember that the project involves different communications elements.

To take some examples.

The Caravan park needs to be promoted, bringing in fossicking et al. This is a different issue from the project itself.

Now the nursery and the trust need promotion. Again a different issue.

The promotion of Tingha ia not quite the same as the promotion of the project. Rather, it becomes one stream within the project.

Promotion of the project itself depends upon purpose. We don't want to sell Tingha's problems because this may detract from people coming. On the other hand, by selling the project we can also attract support from outside Tingha.

I really do empathise on the volunteer issue, and this links to the first point. I know from my own experience how easy it for enthusiasts (and I am one) to out-run practical volunteer delivery.

Have you thought of forming a Friends of Tingha Regeneration to provide external support?