What is a Living Neighbourhood?
A Living Neighbourhood is one where locals both make decisions and work together to improve their neighbourhood. Many hands make light work!
- Worried about weeds?
- Keen to get rid of rats?
- Embarrassed about rubbish on your street?
- Do you wish your local stream was clean and clear?
- Want to get to know your neighbours?
People often get a real surprise when they learn that their neighbours also care and are willing to help. Sometimes people are even surprised they’re allowed to take action – for e.g yes, you’re allowed to remove weeds in your local reserve!
Gecko provides support, advice and resources to help. We set up Living Neighbourhoods to support you to achieve your neighbourhood goals – whatever they may be.
Are you interested in turning your neighbourhood into a Living Neighbourhood or finding out if there’s one near you?
Contact us for more information about what’s already happening in your area – or download our Living Neighbourhoods Toolkit [link to Guides and Resources_LN Toolkit] and get started straight away.
The Story Behind Living Neighbourhoods
Gecko is committed to creating, educating and advocating for healthy environments.
Since 1995 with the support of our partners we have been working actively with a number of communities in Auckland to develop a self-sustainable model of extensive community engagement. Our intention is to achieve observable sustainable social and ecological outcomes.
We began by setting up over 22 ‘Sustainable Neighbourhoods’ [Link to Gecko_Website_D_Our Projects_Sustainable Neighbourhoods] for Auckland Council and now run 11 of our own independently funded programmes called Living Neighbourhoods. These neighbourhoods generally have over 100 households involved.
Bringing communities together with a common focus (in this case environmental projects in their own neighbourhood) results in benefits beyond the good they are doing for their environment. Some of these benefits include: people getting to know their neighbours and feeing safer in their own street, at-risk youth being mentored, learning about native flora and fauna and practical ways to care for them, community wine and weed days being set up, neighbours removing weeds simply to ‘be a good neighbour’.
Living Neighbourhoods are supported by Gecko NZ Trust with a community facilitator. This facilitator helps initially by connecting neighbours and helping a community define a vision. A facilitator usually continues to support a neighbourhood for a number of years by giving help and advice on ecology, brokering relationships, community engagement and communications. They also help out with community projects and act as a sounding board and key support person for the community.
We support communities to achieve what they want, not what anyone else wants.
Why Establish Living Neighbourhoods?
At Gecko we focus on aligning community and sustainability. We like to build capacity, community, leadership and resilience to create and restore a safe, healthy and connected habitat for native flora, fauna and people.
Living Neighbourhoods –
- establish a positive (caring) culture
- reach the causes of environmental problems (e.g. the garden as the starting point for many environmental weeds, behaviours that contribute to environmental degradation)
- reach across all of the community, and land beyond Council control
- gain and combine resources from a range of sources not otherwise accessible to the community
- encourage social interaction that fosters support, learning, and sense of identity and place
- offer true ‘partnership’ so the range of communities across Auckland feel comfortable and ‘own’ their participation
- build environmental capacity and social infrastructure
For more information read our Living Neighbourhoods Toolkit [link to Guides and Resources_LN Toolkit] or email us.
Beyond the Fence – Informing, Connecting, Inspiring, Motivating
Once upon a time one individual wanted to encourage others to ‘look beyond the fence’ of their own backyards. Now, in partnership with Gecko, a huge group of volunteers are working together with locals in Birkenhead/Northcote on the North Shore to enhance their community so they can all feel safe and connected, and live in a beautiful, healthy landscape.
Beyond the Fence (BTF) raise the profile of the need for weed and pest work on private land to increase the biodiversity of the urban bush reserve of Le Roy’s Bush and in people’s own backyards. They attend local events with information stands and displays, organise educational walks, host seasonal community festivals and help locals manage pests plants and animals.
BTF cluster groups have also formed, and the BTF team assists them with planning, developing appropriate weed strategies, weeding bees and encourages them to connect with other clusters to share their successes and challenges. They have a range of resources and tools available to assist people to manage pest plants and animals, and they also run a halo rat programme in conjunction with Friends of Le Roys Bush on private properties surrounding Le Roys Bush.
Supported by an Auckland Council Regional Environment and Natural Heritage Grant