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 Claire Cardew, one of the brains behind the Wellard Village People Town Team.
Claire, could you please introduce yourself?
I am a wife and mother residing in Kwinana. I juggle multiple roles, including founding a town team in 2020, running a small home baking business specialising in macarons, and serving as a bucket list coach.
Excellent! Let’s dive deeper into your journey. Could you elaborate on how you became involved with the Town Team Movement?
I live at the village at Wellard, a housing estate established about two decades ago. Initially, I was part of the Residents Association, advocating for amenities like a Community Center and bus routes. Over time, our residents’ group transformed into a more comprehensive community-building effort. Notably, we played a role in launching our local pub, the Well.
We chose to name ourselves the “Wellard Village People” because we truly embody our local community here in Wellard. This name encapsulates our diverse talents and roles, much like the iconic Village People with their various characters, from the policeman and cowboy to the biker and more. It’s a fun and fitting way to symbolise the many facets of our village life, just as I often mention how I wear many hats in our community.
So, would you say that there were many people interested in getting involved in the community and aligning with your vision?
Yes, as our community evolved, people shifted to engaging in smaller events, more community-driven actions. For instance, we now have the “Gift and Take Market” at Brentwood Village on the first Sunday of each month. It’s not just about giving and taking; it’s about creating a communal space in the public realm. We provide food, activities for kids like chalk and bubbles, and even folks from the nearby cafe would join us and connect with others. While only eight to 20 people might attend over two hours, these interactions foster more meaningful community bonds compared to larger events.
Place-making expert David Engwicht, actually came to Wellard in 2022. He’s from Brisbane, his approach to place-making is fascinating. He transformed his backyard into a public park for the community. His insights are quite profound; he talks about how, in the past, our sense of home extended beyond our front doors and into the town centre.
Nowadays, people tend to stay closer to home. Kids rarely play in the streets as they once did. Fortunately, in Wellard, they still do. My street is an example. Holding events like the “Gift and Take Market”, just across the road from the coffee shop in a beautiful public space with trees, helps people feel a sense of ownership and belonging to their community.
Fascinating! Can you provide more insight into how you interpret placemaking and its relevance to your work with the Town Team Movement?
To me, placemaking means the transformation of public spaces into inviting, comfortable environments where individuals feel at home. It involves creating spaces that foster connections and instil a sense of belonging. For instance, our initiatives, such as the “Gift and Take Market”, go beyond simple item exchange; they create an environment where the community can gather and connect.
A powerful concept! Would you say that your vision for community and your role as a town builder stem from your personal experiences?
Absolutely. Community-building and stability are fundamental values for me. Growing up, I moved frequently, which made it challenging to establish roots and connections. This influenced my decision to stay in one place for an extended period, invest in my local community, and help others feel that sense of belonging.
So, how did you transition into this role of town builder?
My previous role involved culture-building in a corporate environment. I enjoyed it but felt there was more to explore. I also pursued a career as a bucket list coach. When attending a Town Team Movement conference in Port Hedland, I shared my plans to leave my corporate job with Jimmy and Dean. They suggested I’d make a great town builder.
It seems like a natural fit for you.
I’ve always been passionate about community and now have the opportunity to turn that passion into a career.
What are your thoughts on the impact and effectiveness of social movements and organisations?
Social movements and organisations can wield great influence, but there remains work to be done in terms of raising awareness and educating people about their potential. The growth of the Town Team Movement, from 67 to 118 teams in just two years, highlights our progress. It’s imperative to continue spreading our message across Australia and showcase the positive effects of such initiatives.
Many Town Teams struggle to recruit members. How do you convince people to join?
It’s all about individual connections. You need to approach people one-on-one, understand their interests, and meet them where they are. Utilise platforms like Facebook, where people are already active. In our area, we engage people in activities they love, like enjoying nature reserves, to build a sense of community.
That’s an encouraging perspective. Lastly, is there a message close to your heart that you’d like to convey to our audience?
My favourite saying, rooted in Māori culture, resonates deeply with me: “What is the most important thing in the world? It is people. It is people. It is people.” People are undeniably our most valuable asset, and nurturing human connections is paramount.
Want to get involved and become a doer in your own community? Head to the Town Team Movement website to learn more.