Can small local changes transform our world for the better? Is it possible to build better, more liveable, more sustainable communities right here in our cities?
In a world where communities have become increasingly disconnected, we'll be exploring some wonderful initiatives aimed at transforming local communities, by connecting neighbours, embracing our environment and looking at more sustainable ways of living.
We've got ourselves some inspiring and engaging speakers who'll be sharing their stories and ideas on the night. Get ready for some interaction - you'll have plenty of opportunity to get talking with some audience and panel discussion coming your way!
If you're passionate about finding better ways of living more connected, more sustainable lives....this is an evening not to be missed!
MICHAEL MOBBS - Sustainable House, Chippendale
Michael developed a plan for Sydney City Council called the 'Sustainable Communities Plan' It's a free guide to making a city suburb more sustainable via community-led projects. The Plan is set in Chippendale, but is being used to guide innovation in suburbs around the world.
The plan deals with food, transport, water, sewage, energy and 'the urban heat island'. It offers a range of simple, low cost actions that residents and businesses can take. It’s part common sense design, part council policy guide but firstly a study of how one suburb can impact our planet.
Michael was originally a lawyer, but now also a sustainability coach and author. He's well known for his 'Sustainable House' in Chippendale
DANIEL KOGOY - Sunday Streets / Greens Councillor
Daniel is a Greens Councillor on Leichhardt Council. Daniel is pushing to get 'Sunday Streets' going in New South Wales.
It's also known in the US as 'Open Streets'. This is a day where a stretch of road is closed to cars but open to people. You can cycle, walk, skateboard, dance, bring your kids out, you name it. The idea is to show people that our streets can be valuable public spaces rather than just corridors for moving machines around.
So far there's been 80 Open Streets in the US. The last one in Los Angeles attracted 150,000 people. There's also been Open Streets in Mumbai, Jakarta, Capetown and nearly every continent on the planet. According to Daniel the only continents left are Antarctica and Australia.
'Sunday Streets' first started in South America - where it's known as 'Ciclovia'. In Bogota Ciclovias are held every Sunday on 100km of its streets. Two million people (or 30% of its population) get involved each year.
Daniel is an environmental professional by trade who works on energy efficiency and climate change projects.
PHIL STUBBS - Better Block
Phil is co-ordinating Sydney's first 'Better Block'.
Better Block is a demonstration event where the community make the street more 'liveable' for a day. It includes adding trees, plants, tables, chairs, art, music, bike & pedestrian infrastructure, and slowing traffic. An important part of the event is involving the community in having a say in what they want to see on the street to begin with, and then providing feedback on the day itself. The project encourages people to re-imagine their street and builds momentum for permanent change.
The very first Better Block ran in Dallas 2 years ago. It quickly spread. There's now been more than 40 Better Blocks in the US. The Better Block Founders recently received a 'Champions of Change' award from the US government for their work.
The event here in Sydney is on 27 October 2013 on Clovelly Road in Clovelly - in the block between Arden and Beach Streets. You can see more about the event itself at And more on the thinking behind it here.
Phil co-founded 'GreenUps' (Sydney Green Drinks), works as a trainer at Media School Sydney, and is a blogger & podcaster at The Environment Show. He also started the guerrilla veggie garden in Clovelly Gully (behind the beach.)
SALLY ARMSTRONG - Sydney Water
Sally Armstrong is a sustainability professional with a passion for improving community outcomes. She has over 15 years corporate, local and state government experience in sustainability spanning liveability, urban water management, water efficiency, conservation, climate change, resource minimisation and waste management.
Sally is currently the Manager of People and Places, in the Liveable City Solutions division at Sydney Water. In this role she is focused on defining and implementing Sydney Water’s corporate approach to liveability. This Approach describes how Sydney Water will continue to support and enhance the quality of life for its customers and communities.
Sally thinks the key to urban liveability is to unlock the multiple benefits that can be achieved through systems thinking and collaboration. In Sally’s words, creating better community outcomes in an urban context is about truly connecting with communities to understand their needs and aspirations for the places they live and work. This way you can design spaces, facilities and infrastructure that will be truly valued and increase social and environmental well-being.
Sally has been at Sydney Water for the past 7 years and has held a number of roles. Before that she was the NSW Environmental Manager for Coca-Cola Amatil. She has also had a number of roles in Local and State Government and grew up just down the road from the Barossa Valley in Adelaide.
Don't forget our shoutouts - where anyone can take the stage for 30 seconds to share an idea, ask for help or well just have a rant generally.