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News and views - March 2012

From: Spencer
Sent on: Monday, March 5, 2012 9:06 PM

Hi everyone

The group has been going a couple of months now, and we have a few meetups under our belt, so I thought it was a good time to write with a bit of an update on where things are going and what to look forward to over the next couple of months. This is quite a long email so bear with me!

Conservation and the environment

In case you hadn’t noticed, this time of year is weeding season. There is no doubt that this is the least glamorous of tasks, but it’s also one of the most important. Without weeding, a large number of plantings are overwhelmed and die, wasting money and volunteer effort as well. Weeding at home is boring. It takes forever. But weeding in a group is much more fun. After only an hour or two, whole streams, beaches or hillsides can be transformed from a weedy mess to a tidy planting again. Weeding in a group is also hugely sociable and is a good chance to learn about each of the native plants (to avoid pulling out!) and each of the weeds (and to how to get rid of them!). I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how enjoyable the weeding events have been so far, and have had similar feedback from others. Which is good because we still have another month or so before the planting season begins!

What’s coming up in the next couple of months?

There are some pretty exciting events coming up in the next couple of months:

Forest & Bird are starting up a major new initiative in Wrights Hill, Karori, to increase the abundance of the rare and threatened Wellington Green Gecko. They will be running workshops and practical conservation activities and have asked us to come along and help them out once they are up and running. Sam, the project coordinator, has kindly offered to come along and talk at our monthly pub meeting about this and other community projects that he is involved in.

Wairarapa Ecofarms, run by Frank and Josje, who you may have met at the Hill Street Farmers Market, are keen for us to come out to their farm near Masterton, learn a bit about organic agriculture, then harvest some apples and, later in the year, olives. We’ll be able to bring some bounty home with us too.

Other cool events to look forward to include helping to grow native plants for revegetation at Berhampore native plant nursery, working at Island Bay community orchard, hooking up with the Friends of Owhiro Stream, helping at Makara Peak mountain bike park and discovering a tiny gem of a reserve right next to the motorway (that needs a little bit of polishing!).

I’ll try and schedule a couple of these events as evening activities, to mix things up a bit, before the clocks change. These will, dare I say it, likely be weeding missions. But they will be short and sweet, and will be followed by refreshment of the beer kind as a reward!

Helping vulnerable people (and animals)

You may have noticed that all of the events so far have been conservation focussed and, other than penguins, there haven’t been any events helping out vulnerable people or working with animals. The simple reason for this is that the vast majority of existing community groups work on environmental projects. The second main reason is that groups working with the community tend to want individual volunteers and want a commitment to regular attendance and training. While these roles may be suitable for members of our group, they are less suited to the meetup style of one-off events. However, see the next item for more on how we might be able to diversify the type of events that we can offer.

Volunteer Wellington

Volunteer Wellington is the hub for voluntary organisations and volunteers in Wellington. They function as a match making organisation, placing people in suitable unpaid roles. Again, most of their work tends to be placing skilled people in dedicated volunteer roles. However, volunteer wellington also runs a corporate volunteer programme, whereby companies allow groups of staff to volunteer once a year (or more) with a community group that needs their help for specific projects. This model works really well because community groups can specify when they most need some help, and willing volunteers get a day off work!

I have been talking to volunteer wellington about the possibility of hooking us up in a similar way with community groups that need help. While they normally supply volunteers 9-5 Monday to Friday, many groups may also want people at weekends, which is where we come in. If volunteer wellington agree to work with us,  it will open up a wider range of activities and groups for us to work with, including, hopefully, people and animals, as well as plants and penguins! Watch this space :)

Hosting meetups and other ways to help the group

When I post an event on the website, I am automatically nominated as the host and also recorded as attending. While I will try and get along to as many events as possible, I can’t be at all of them. I’m therefore looking for willing people to host some events. This does not mean that you have to research and set up events (though you are very welcome too!). All it means is that, once I have set up an event, and you have decided that you are going, that you from time to time might offer (or be asked by me!) to be the host for that particular event.

As a host, your main duty is to make sure everyone knows where to go and how to get there, especially if there is some car pooling. You may need to get the ball rolling and make sure everyone has a ride. It’s also good to keep an eye on the website and answer any questions people might pose about the event. Finally, you should touch base with the organiser from the community group we are working with, make sure that everyone has the same expectations, and help smooth things along on the day.

If you are happy to host the odd meetup, please either drop me an email now, or just let me know for any particular meetups that you are going to.

Finally, it would be great to have some of you on board to help make connections, particularly within the social/community sector, to broaden the range of events that we can offer. If you are already involved in this sector, it would be great if you could help out. Perhaps you could offer to research and set up an event, or simply put me in touch with someone you know? It doesn’t have to be a big commitment, particularly if we develop a good partnership with volunteer wellington.

Tips and tricks on making the most of the website and managing all those emails

We all get a lot of emails from Meetup. I have set up a rule on my email that forwards them all into a dedicated folder, to read when I have a spare moment. If you are still getting too many, however, you can go to “account” in the top right, then click on “email settings”. You may need to click on settings for each group depending on what you want to cut down on.

One thing that I would ask you all to do is, under Community Action Wellington email settings, make sure that you have checked the box near the bottom that says “Message Boards”. It would be great to use this feature a bit more to share ideas, let each other know about events and so forth. At the moment I don’t think many people receive notifications when new items are posted. Once you’ve done that, go ahead and get posting! – just click on “discussions” and then “message board”.

Your feedback

We had a great planning meeting just over a month ago. I posted the notes from it on the message board, and have been beavering away trying to put into action as many of the ideas that came through as I can. However, what I would really like is some feedback from you on how things are going. What you like or don’t like about the group so far. What made you sign up to an event? Why haven’t you been along to any yet? What could be done better? Small and large suggestions, good or bad, important or trivial, all welcomed and appreciated! To provide feedback either send me an email or post a reply on the message board where I will also post this update.

Well that’s all from me. Thanks for reading, and looking forward to seeing you at a meetup event soon!


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