Visiting academics praise Bingara’s energy and innovation.

August 29, 2011

Dr Philip Thomas from UNE Armidale and Professor Ted Alter from Penn State University in the USA were special guests at a workshop at the Roxy theatre in Bingara on Sunday August 21. They were there to present the Unison group’s program to encourage innovative projects in country towns.

A group of Bingara community members attended the workshop which was called at short notice in response to a suggestion from Darren Keegan, the Business Development Manager – Northern Inland NSW Office of Trade, Business and Industry. The group had originally intended to visit only larger centres in the region.

At the workshop the local representatives displayed the plans for a number of Bingara’s projects including the Bingara Town Strategy, The Living Classroom Project and the Bingara Vision – Regeneration.

The two guests were surprised and delighted to see the degree to which the Bingara community, in conjunction with Gwydir Shire Council, had identified opportunities and were pursuing them.

Dr Thomas commented that few small communities had progressed so far, and Professor Alter remarked, that even from the perspective of the much larger US environment he was impressed by the Bingara community’s commitment and progress.

Dr Thomas sent the following as part of his review of the workshop:
“Core issues identified during the workshop from a general innovation perspective related to ‘value and power associated with a strong community drive’, ‘the need for community members to possess the drive for continuity and ownership of actions’, ‘the equity value achieved through sharing of the ideas’, ‘the apparent value of the Vision 2020 program’, and ‘focus in Bingara on the diversification of farming/tourism/education practices’ being achieved through the program.”

The Unison team is back in Bingara on the evening of Monday August 29 to follow up the workshop with a focus on the development of business plans and on forging closer working links with their universities.

The visitors were invited to stay for the “afternoon of BEAUTIFUL songs” concert which was staged on the Sunday afternoon after the first workshop by the North West Theatre Company. The concert, which featured local soprano Lexi Hutton and the Harmony Inc chorale from Narrabri drew a “full house” audience to the Roxy Theatre. In addition to his comments on the day’s workshop, Dr Thomas concluded, “I must say that we enjoyed the concert very much.”

Local responses to the Unison group’s visits will be on the agenda of the Vision 2020 general meeting on Thursday September 1.

Submitted by President, Rick Hutton on 0428 255380