“Our Place” will be a great place to live and invest!

March 2, 2010

More than two hundred people attended across the three sessions of the “Our Place” – country town living 2025 Forum held in Bingara on February 24-25. They heard of the challenges of the future, the forces and factors that are shaping the future, and the prospects for country towns.
Over one hundred attended the opening session introduced by Gwydir Shire Council Deputy Mayor, Cr Catherine Egan. Futurist, Dr Peter Ellyard set the scene with a “look into the future”. He told of changing social patterns, the rise of “planetisation”, and “tribalisation” of communities, and new paradigms to explain changes in economic conditions and technological impacts.
A large group of students from Warialda High School and Bingara Central School were told by Peter that most of their future jobs and professions are yet to be invented and he advised them to “follow your passions not your pensions” when choosing a path to study.
Dr Maarten Stapper is an agricultural scientist with a passion for soils. He told the forum that future agriculture and, as a consequence, country towns, will fail if we neglect our soil.
Landscape Architect John Mongard presented “Feeding, Greening, Caring”, a model for country towns to ensure that they focus on people and their needs. Reducing hard surfaces of tar and cement, providing green, cool and friendly spaces for people to gather and share community values, and producing more local food, were strong messages from John.
The afternoon sessions featured “snap shots” of projects and patterns already underway. Mark Rex from New England Mutual outlined future finance. Rod Smith from Gwydir Shire Council explained the Gwydir Learning Region and the plans for three Trade Training Centres in Bingara and Warialda to produce more meaningful education outcomes.
Deputy Mayor of Moree Plains Shire Council, Sue Price, gave a joy filled presentation on the “regeneration” of the town of Mungindi, and explained how vision and people power can triumph, and Regional Director of Tourism for the NSW Department of Industry and Investment, Bill Mabey, described how tourism can both stimulate communities and bring economic growth to those centres that are able to “brand themselves well” and “make their attributes available and desired by visitors”.
The evening session was highlighted by the amazing story of the “The Roxy – Past, Present and Future” presented by Roxy Manager, Sandy McNaughton.
Day two began with a session led by business psychologist, Margaret Bridgeford, who explained how our “brains are wired to either accept or reject change”.
The seventy five attendees engaged in a vigorous workshop session where they considered the factors that will “take us forward”, “hold us back”, “link our attributes” and “teach us from the experiences of others”. This process combined “shopping for ideas”, “debating issues” and finally “filling the floor” with notes and suggestions on the BIG Gwydir Spider Web.
Summations from each of the reference people, then by NSW DII Regional Director Pieter Verasdonck, were followed by a thank you from Gwydir Shire Mayor, John Coulton.
The members of GSC and V2020 now have the task of correlating all of the ideas that came from the Forum to provide a summary report. The co-hosts of the “Our Place” – country town living 2025 Forum, thank all of the participants, especially the special guests for their participation and their passion for the prosperous future of our country towns.
Submitted by – Rick Hutton
Secretary, Bingara and District VISION 2020 Ph: 0428 255 380.