AS a Community Development manager in the Ripley region, it is exciting to participate in the early stages of the creation of a community.
For me, my understanding of community comes as much from my own personal experiences as it does my professional understanding and research in the field.
When I was a young girl, I did not understand what was meant by the word community. I suppose the term itself was not used as heavily as it is today, but I believe I had sense of what it meant.
Community was the occasions when my mother would send me to the corner store to buy the weekend newspaper. Riding to the corner store came with a balance of freedom and responsibility.
Before leaving I would map out in my head all the friends houses along the way, and strategize those most likely to be home. Despite having no skill I also likened myself to a BMX freestyler whilst riding my very un-BMX red Malvern Star push bike. My father was the Neighbourhood Watch president so safety was paramount in my home, which meant the rather unattractive 80's yellow stack hat (which was five times the size of my actual head), was a mandatory requirement whilst riding a bike.
I understood that a bit of rumbustious behaviour was considered acceptable to my parents, yet that it came with limits. If I stepped outside those limits there was guaranteed to be a local parent that would somehow get the message back to my parents before my return. In my youth; community was freedom to make choices within safe and easily identified boundaries, and the responsibility of "it takes a tribe” approach to parenting and keeping a watchful eye out for the local youth.
Fast forward a few years, and the importance of cultivating a positive community identity that watches out for one another and its youth is the cornerstone of my professional ethos. This is because I can look back and recall how wonderfully supportive and nurturing those consistent ideals and relationships were for me, even if I did not understand that (or appreciate it) at the time.
In my professional capacity in Ripley, I see and experience community in the monthly resident's meetings in which residents and local stakeholders attend to stay informed and connected and sometimes just to chat. I see it forming in the relationship we have with our local Councillor Kerry Silver, whose association with the community embodies a grass roots authenticity, not always synonymous with political leaders. I see community developing on local Facebook groups where neighbours ask for recommendations for reputable local services; advise neighbours that a party is being held, but to let them know if it gets too loud; lost pets are advertised and their returns are celebrated. I also see community in the spaces and places that are emerging, such as the Ripley dog park and playground facilities, the Ripley Town Centre, and the walking tracks that connect the region.
Ripley is a burgeoning region, with a rich local history.
It is our ambition to support Ripley residents new and old, in finding that united connection through experiences, relationships, neighbours, local business, teachers and our local leaders.