By Richard Emery
1. How long have you lived in the area?
We moved to Dereel in August 2012. Before that I lived in large regional towns or in Melbourne. The move was sparked by a camping trip I had been putting off for 25 years. Came home after being in a National Park with wildlife an real sense of peace…the built up environment suddenly seemed unbearably noisy and crowded.
2. What’s great about living here?
The peace and quiet, the wildlife and wildflowers, and the people. It sounds like a cliché but it isn’t. When I worked in Melbourne I had to put on a mask. Here people accept me for who I am.
3. What do you feel passionate about?
Wildflowers, the bushland, and simply walking around soaking up the sounds of birds and seeing what is growing, how the light of the day or hour changes the look of bark, moss and leaves.
4. What do you find joy in doing?
Photography, fabric design, mixed media art and other creative explorations. Usually these are inspired by the bushland in Dereel. Moving here really did change me. Prior to that, my creativity was always written, not visual.
5. What is your current pet project?
I have a few different things on the go. At the moment I am exploring fabric design, playing with mixed media and also putting together a collection of personal essays.
6. What community groups are you involved in and why?
At the moment, primarily Dereel Community Hub Incorporated (DCHI) because I think I can contribute more to this group and I can see the long-term goal of creating a cooperative shop.
7. Tell us about your best community experience.
I’m not sure if there was one standout experience. I’ve just enjoyed getting to know people through the community groups I’ve been involved with.
Being part of the organising team for the first two Spring Festivals was a big learning curve for me.
8. How could you see more of this happening in Dereel?
Using the Spring Festival as an example, I think we can achieve so much if all of the community groups and interested individuals can take on a small part of a larger project. If we can choose projects that clearly benefit the whole community and develop plans to achieve them, we could accomplish so much. There is such a broad range of skills in this community.
9. Describe a future vision of Dereel that you would like to see.
After the fires, I witnessed the community centre being open every day, with local groups holding meetings in both the daytime and in the evenings. These included gardening groups, history groups, the walking group, the Mens Shed group, Tai Chi, the Writers Group, and a range of introductory workshops. I would love to see that happening again.
If people were able to drop in to the community centre at any time of the day, sit down with a cup of tea or coffee and just chat to others who were there, many new ideas would spark. We need this random interaction, not just organised meetings, to find out more of the Dereel community needs and wishes.
Hopefully there would be a small cooperative shop there in the future too, where people can browse through local art and craft items and local products. Wouldn’t it be lovely to be able to get the essentials you need right here in Dereel?
10. What would we do as a first step to realise that dream?
I think chatting is the starting point. The Hub Café on Saturdays is a beginning, I think. If we can get a few different activities happening on a Saturday afternoon, hopefully it will grow from there and run on other days too.
With the Men’s Shed also meeting on Saturdays, a vibe is beginning to develop. I sincerely hope it grows and grows and grows. Maybe we can have a market on Saturday afternoons before too long?