David Engwicht returns to advance Taree's civic heart project

Local businessman Graham Brown with placemake David Engwicht in the CBD recently.

Local businessman Graham Brown with placemake David Engwicht in the CBD recently.

BUSINESS is not just about the sale of goods, it's about conversations, it's about people and social interactions.

This is the view of acclaimed placemaker, David Engwicht and part of the counsel he will share with local businesses owners and staff who attend a fundraising event this Tuesday, August 5 in Taree.

Mr Engwicht is returning to the Manning Valley on August 5 and 6 for two events that seek to continue business and community momentum for change in the central business district.

The first is a fundraising event at The Exchange Hotel and the second is a follow-up meeting with Centerpoint Arcade landlord, Maurie Stack and arcade tenants. Mr Stack last week advised that he was "prepared to allocate a substantial budget to the modernisation of the arcade. It's part of the revitalisation of the central business district."

Money is a critical factor in the success of community driven project to create a civic heart in Taree and to enliven the central business district during Greater Taree City Council's "permissions to act" six-month trial. Tidy Up Taree organiser, Graham Brown is driving the civic heart project and is hoping to raise $20,000 fast by hosting the August 5 night with Mr Engwicht.

Mr Brown is hoping 200 business owners will come to the $100 per business event he says that's an instant $20,000 that will then finance the planned works for the area in front of Centrelink in Victoria Street.

The momentum for change is building and according to Mr Engwicht, it is a process that must be driven by the community individuals and business owners.

"All councils over time have moved from a citizen model to a customer model," Mr Engwicht explained.

"When towns first set-up in Australia, council's were only concerned with rates, roads and rubbish and so the civic life of the town was left to the people to organise.

"Over time, the richer a community becomes it tends to outsource its civic responsibilities and so its people will say to council, 'You set-up the community development section. You start doing festivals for us and we will pay you and then we don't have to do it'.

"But what that does is rip the heart out of the community, because the very notion of a town is all around mutual co-operation and it's about everybody putting in, and everybody getting more out of it.

"So when you outsource that responsibility, sure the job gets done, but there is no sense of civic cohesion and pride that is associated with that. It's incompatible with what a town is supposed to be."

Mr Engwicht says "Taree is going through an interesting transition as your council can't afford to provide all of those services.

"We are being forced to go back to a citizen model, and in my books that is a really good thing.

"It's going to be the one good thing that comes out of the economic decline," he said.

To register attendance at the David Engwicht event on Tuesday, August 5 from 6.30pm at The Exchange please contact GPB Partners on 6551 1660.

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