Unfortunately, Earth Day 2017 was washed out by torrential amounts of rain this year. On the one hand we are all thinking – terrific – good for the plantings but on the other hand, all our organising and planning for this special day went a bit pear shaped. No matter! We had a great time anyway.
Our Earth Day was planned to be bigger than Ben Hur (as our vice president Gerard is fond of saying). Sunshine Heights Primary School (SHPS) are in their third year of creek adoption funding through Melbourne Water and this year we have also encouraged a number of other local schools to get on board.
Earth day was set to be a combined planting day with SHPS and Sunshine Primary. We had helped to organise a number of ‘stations’ for the day:
- Uncle Bill Nicholson – A Wurundjeri elder with a wealth of local and creek knowledge.
- Waterwatch – finding and identifying macroinvertebrates in the water.
- Ephemeral Art – creating temporary art out of found objects on the creek with Dr Michael Shiell.
- Litter workshop and the unveiling of “The Love Angel’, our milk bottle boat – encouraging the students to think of ways of reducing, reusing and recycling.
- The Natural Culture – a local funk bank with a sustainable groove.
- Planting – both schools were to plant around 500 plants each in their adopted sections.
We couldn’t quite tell if the rain was here to stay or not. The creek was running high – so that meant it wouldn’t be possible to have fun with our plastic bottle boat “The Love Angel” – unless we wanted teachers and FOKCers to float off down to Port Phillip Bay, which would have been an adventure no doubt but not what we had in mind!
The high water levels had also washed away a lot of the little bugs that we wanted to find in our Waterwatch session. Our lovely volunteers considered bringing in some cheat bug life from a still pool of water elsewhere but in the end, the rain was too heavy and the event on the creek was called off.
We asked Dr Shiell and The Natural Culture to up-sticks and head up to SHPS with Jodie, which they did most graciously. Uncle Bill was already at the school and our hardcore team of volunteers stayed on the creek and did the planting – Libby, Ferdi, Karin, Anne, David, Gerard, Martha, Ash, Matthew, Bec and myself had a great time getting muddy and wet but getting the job done!
Uncle Bill set up in the SHPS library and ran a series of wonderful workshops. The children got to become the animals on the creek, dance, make music and even got to wear a ceremonial possum skin cloak. They learned about hunting and fishing on the creek. If Uncle Bill had been able to hold the workshop on the creek itself, he had planned all sorts of activities that included things like Boomerang throwing. What a shame! Still, the kids had a ball and my daughter for one certainly came home bursting with all the things she had discovered.
The Love Angel
Some of the local kids, boat expert neighbour Peter and myself built a boat out of around 200 recycled milk bottles. We collected bottles from ‘Michel’s Patisserie’ and ‘Muffin Break’ in the Sunshine Marketplace for a week or so until we had enough to build our mighty boat. That was almost 2 years ago. They sat under our house all that time until we finally managed to find the time over the Easter holidays to get weaving. It was a pretty simple process, we just gaffer taped the bottles together, using waaay too much gaffer tape. But hey – there was no way we wanted to sink on our maiden voyage. The day before Earth Day we tried it out and to our absolute joy and delight, it floated! Even though we couldn’t use it on Earth Day – we plan on using the boat to collect litter from the edges of the creek, for education purposes at school events and at FOKC events just for fun. Maybe one day we will try to go the length of the creek in it…
The Natural Culture
What a fantastic bunch of friendly, talented people ‘The Natural Culture’ are. They rocked out in the SHPS gym and performed songs that are still on repeat in my mind and I’m guessing a few others…groovy, catchy tunes such as ‘Earth Ship’ and ‘Teacher’. We were very lucky to have these generous people offer to come and perform for us. They got in touch with Jodie and offered their services. The kids loved it, especially the little ones who went berserk dancing and clapping along. The older students played it way cooler but we could tell that they were enjoying themselves thoroughly. We are looking forward to having The Natural Culture back at one of our planting events later in the year and wish them luck on their tour!
Dr Michael Shiell had planned on having the kids create ephemeral art referencing the macroinvertebrate sessions – creating bugs out of sticks, stones, leaves and whatever else they could find. When he was moved up to to a school classroom instead, he adapted quickly and gave a terrific masterclass in Ephemeral Art. One of the messages that really stuck with a number of the students and teachers was that it IS possible to make a living out of the arts. He showed the students that one of his artworks had taken him around the world five times! I think this is a message that is important for young people to hear. How great to encourage brave, creative young people to put their ideas out into the world and not be put off by the misconception that there is no living to be made.
Thank you to Melbourne Water and in particular Gerard Morel for the continued support and funding for these creek adoptions. Brimbank City Council’s Martha Ragg for her on ground support and knowledge. Libby Melzer, SHPS parent, FOKC member and lead organiser on the SHPS creek adoption project. Victorian State Government Litter Hotspots Program for their funding which helps us organise the litter workshops. Waterwatch at Melbourne Water. Uncle Bill Nicholson. The Natural Culture. Dr Michael Shiell. Peter Clark. Alex Artavilla and the staff and students at SHPS. Lyn Read, Bec and Elzette from Sunshine Primary School. Beata for offering to let us use her water. FOKC crew Ferdi, Karin, Anne, Ash, David and Jodie. Thank you to Matthew Schulz for generously using his corporate volunteering day to help us out.