We like to bang on about how great (or rather, OK!) Perth is – but our greatness doesn’t just happen out of nowhere!
With a mission to create thriving, connected and empowered communities, Town Team Movement is all about “doers”.
We’re partnering up with Town Team Movement so we can shine a light on some of the people who help make our communities so unique, and just a few of the excellent initiatives they’re working on.
This week, we’re featuring Erwin Gerritsen-Kieft: one of the brain’s behind Mullalyup’s local Town Team.
“I work for the RAC and have been working for them for the past 12 years, and in human resource management for the last 30 years.”
Working at RAC has allowed Erwin to develop an interest in community service, community engagement and advocacy – unsurprisingly, he has a particular focus on mobility. How people travel, what it means for them and the impact that it has when it works well – and when it doesn’t!
This is what sparked his initial interest in Town Team and volunteering, and what made him realise it was easy to make a contribution around smaller communities no matter who you are or where you work.
Mullalyup is a small South West town between Kirup and Balingup, and during the summer period the Town Team has just four or five people who get involved in community meetings.
“We are a very very small town team, but we measure our success not by the size but more by our actions.”
In spite of its size, volunteering has given Erwin the ability to connect with people he wouldn’t normally meet, develop his ability to listen to others and collaborate effective – as well as a sense of purpose in his community.
“Through small actions you can improve people’s experience in the region where you live.”
While he describes them as small, achievements like securing Road Safety Commission security grants to minimise the risk of vehicle crashes in regional locations have made a huge difference.
The funding allowed for the creation of a mural designed to catch the attention of motorists and encourage them to slow down. Located at the entrance of the town, the mural features the endangered local Black Cockatoo, alongside a banner reading “Slow down through our town”.
“The delivery of a painted mural was 100% success. Though it can be quite hard to collect evidence of how successful the initiative, the town team is proud of the delivery of a beautiful mural.”
As well as resulting in a beautiful mural, the project has allowed the people of Mullalyup to voice their concerns and be heard – and, vitally, an increased police presence to monitor this stretch of road.
“The first steps are the hardest, and this step is to decide to get involved. Once you’ve made that step, everything else fairly much flows from there. As you get involved with people that you live and the people who are around you, you quickly realise that your motivations rather becomes theirs or vice versa.”
“You don’t need to have legislations in place, you don’t need to have funding. You can basically get together, have a conversation over a cup of tea or something stronger, and just start talking about what you want to do. Town Team is all about immediate community action and once the momentum takes hold it’s great to see that you can utilise that momentum to this effect.”
“To grow something from a very small idea, handing it over to somebody and supporting to make that dream become a reality. We still have a long way to go here in our small town. Eventually it is going to be bigger than me and three other people, but it is going to take some time.”
“Little things tend to progress into bigger teams – this is the power of Town Teams.”
Want to get involved and become a doer in your own community? Head to the Town Team Movement website to learn more.