Ethical question # 8: building community

‘If you could choose one thing to make this community better what would it be?’

BEECHWORTH Community Support co-ordinator and Beechworth Neighbourhood Centre kitchen co-ordinator Trish Mom (pictured) has answered the eighth – and final – Kerferd Oration lead-in question before Sunday’s 2015 presentation in Beechworth.

‘If you could choose one thing to make this community better what would it be? – that’s the challenge.

“I think I would choose encouraging the community as a whole to care more and to care about our community,” Ms Mom said.

“By that I mean caring for and supporting our local businesses and ensuring their success, and caring for local services – schools, post office, doctor, the health service and banks – because without those things small communities die.

“I also include BNC in that, and caring for our neighbours and keeping an eye on them in our town and in the street.

“Perhaps it’s going next door and borrowing something; it’s considered old school but it’s a great way to keep in touch.”

Ms Mom said that contemporary communications technology – while a “tool for living” – had a flip side. It could lead to disconnection.

“All of this technology – we’re communicating with people across the world but we’re not talking with our neighbour and asking how their day was, just caring about that person,” she said.

“Caring for community members in times of need, when they need that help, is also vitally important, and I guess we do a lot of that at BNC with the community food program, so people can access a meal for whatever reason.

“We also care through the ‘community sharing feast’ that we have once a month (at BNC), when we encourage people to come along and meet new people – it’s just about sharing.”

Ms Mom said caring about newcomers would also build a better community.

“We can make sure they’re welcomed and that their transition into our community is a positive one, wherever they’re from,” she said.

“Whether refugees, or tree changers, (when we welcome) that’s the word that gets out there – that ours is a good place to move to and we have a really good sense of community and we engage and connect with people who come here.

“Caring about the community in times of crises – in bushfires and other emergencies – that’s also important.

“Probably my key one is caring about how our kids learn to become good community members.

“If we don’t teach our kids how to become active in our community and engage, we’re just going to grow generations of people who sit at home and use electronic devices and become a ‘community of individuals’.

“I think it’s important that we make sure that they’re engaged in sporting groups, in clubs, school events.

“That for me is really important.”

Ms Mom said that – in the wake of the earlier oration lead-in questions – giving people a ‘fair go’ and caring about where your food comes from were significant hallmarks of community.

“The great turn out at the (Beechworth Urban Landcare) fair food forum (last week) means that people do really care about what’s happening in that field,” she said.

“Caring about the environment as well is important – maintaining such a special place that we have here.

“A lot of people in the past have worked really hard to maintain the integrity of Beechworth and its historical content and have ensured that what we have is around for a long time.”

The oration will be delivered at 11am at George Kerferd Hotel at Mayday Hills in Beechworth.

This post was reprinted from the ‘Ovens & Murray Advertiser’, which is supporting the oration.

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