Last Tuesday evening Benedict, Jane and Ben met at the Northcote library to discuss the rule changes, and were happy with the progress they made. Benedict suggested we clarify aims and the purpose of the gardens, and Ben suggested position descriptions ideas based on those of Cultivating Community's.
Yesterday Ros, Marijka, Louise (and Ruby), Rebecca, Vince and Chris met at the gardens and began a discussion about the rule changes. Louise suggested clarifying the philosophy of the gardens first, as a way to guide the new rules and aims we may want to establish. This led to an interesting discussion about the history of the gardens and how they were established.
Chris, as the only remaining original member, was able to explain how the main point of the gardens was actually to establish and maintain the whole area as a public park with indigenous plantings and a basketball hoop. This was in exchange from Darebin Council, Telstra (who own the land), and Connex to appease the community members who protested against the Telstra tower.
The plots were actually a secondary and later addition devised to encourage more people to be actively engaged in the maintenance of the whole area, when it was realised how much work was involved. In fact ponds were filled in after the gardens were built to create extra new plots to entice more people to help out.
Louise was quite surprised to hear this, and said that it changed her perspective on the whole purpose of the gardens and responsibilities of garden members. She suggested that not everyone may be aware of this.
It was then agreed on by the people present that one of the key changes to the rules should be an alteration to re-focus on the entire area, not just the plots. One way of doing this would be to abolish "Associate Members" (who currently pay $5.00). We would then call all those who have paid this fee and actively participate in working bees "Members" with full voting rights, but add an additional fee for Plot-Holding Members.
In this way we hoped that people would appreciate that the entire area- inside and outside of the fence- is the Northcote Community Gardens, and that our primary responsibility is to maintain the whole area, not just our individual plots.
We also hope to arrange another time to discuss the rule changes, with a view to getting this all finished so that we can move on to other important stuff like gardening and trying to solve our water problem... and maybe having a bit of fun....maybe.