The Better Block

Changes happened this weekend in Clovelly Rd, Sydney, Australia. Small, community inspired changes with a hopefully massive impact. Going from this…

clovelly better block

to this…

clovelly better block

The first Sydney Better Block project was the occasion- a community driven event that from everyone’s accounts, was a huge success.


The inspiring man behind it all, Phill Stubbs.

Clovelly Road Better Block transform a street for a day. The aims are to: 
– bring the community together 
– encourage people to re-imagine their street 
– invite them to add their ideas 
– show civic leaders the need for action 
– get improvements made permanently 
– inspire others to push for change in their street. 

clovelly better block
clovelly better block
Our goal after the event is a permanent liveable street. We will be going back to Council with market research from the Better Block day and pushing for permanent changes. In fact we’re keen to see this rolled out at the other little villages on Clovelly Road. 
Our vision for 2025 is to connect the villages on Clovelly Road and create a green corridor that runs from Centennial Park to the Pacific Ocean. (Yes it’s a bold vision, but if we, the community, don’t really think about our street, who in government will?)
clovelly better block

Blink and you would have missed the very popular burrito’s- a sell out!

clovelly better block

Making the block, “greener, safer, more human

clovelly better block

Everyone’s favourite green man, Costa.

clovelly better block

‘The “Better Block” project is a demonstration tool that rebuilds an area using grassroots efforts to show the potential to create a great walkable, vibrant neighborhood center. The project acts as a living charrette so that communities can actively engage in the “complete streets” buildout process and develop pop-up businesses to show the potential for revitalized economic activity in an area. Better Blocks are now being performed around the world, and have helped cities rapidly implement infrastructure and policy changes.’           – THE BETTER BLOCK PROJECT

This video explains the concept and how they did it in San Antonio, USA.

For more details on other projects, or how to start your own see- The Better Block

For Clovelly Road’s Better Block Project full media release see here

For a recent article in The Age and The Better Block in High St, Coburg, Victoria.

respecting the fish

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When I was a kid my parents would occasionally buy fish from a co-op shop down by the wharf. The fishing trawlers would bring in their catches and deposit their sea life goodies onto the shop counters. While I wasn’t so fussed on eating the fish I did enjoy playing with the fishy carcass out in the backyard.

Scales would be scraped off, hitting the old newspaper underneath. The dinner parts carefully taken inside to the kitchen and the rest of the fish bits would be all for my sister and and I to inspect.

We would squish its eye a little, have a look in the stomach seeing what it what it might have eaten just before being caught, and generally just dissect the remains to see what there was to see.

While the odd fishy innard silently being flung off onto the grass under foot, and half an hour of playing with fish guts probably made us smell like, well fish guts. I do really value those experiences.

These days our little family doesn’t eat a lot of seafood. Like any meat, I would like to know where and how it arrived on my dinner plate. In an ideal world I would catch any fish that I was to eat myself, or at least meet the person that did. Neither of those options seem particular practical for us at the moment so seafood intake is about once a year.

That once a year time had arrived and there was to be fish on the table. I couldn’t give my kids the same childhood experiences that I had, with cool green grass underfoot, and fish guts to step through… but I could do something similar.

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With a sharp knife and eager fingers to prod. Anatomy was scrutinised, fins were stretched out, eyeballs were poked and a satisfying amount of respect was given to the small fish lying on the plate. This was once a life lying before us, respect I think was well deserved.

What was the fish thinking before it got caught mama?

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We talked about the fish and what it meant to catch something and then eat it. Monkey Boy said he thought the fish looked sad and wondered whether it was sad because it had been caught. Little Monkey thought the fish looked like it was crying. As he had a fascination with poking the eyeball, it really looked like it was.

While I’m not a fan of attaching human emotions to animals, I won’t shy my kids away from the realities of eating meat. It doesn’t come naturally filleted and free from eyes and tails. If they choose to eat meat than I have every intention of them knowing where it really comes from.

For me this starts with respecting the fish.

Eco-living Fair

As much as I often think, oh I wish we lived out of the city. It’s days like these, I think… damn I love our city. I love having the opportunity to go to things like this. A community fair in celebration of all things sustainable- it was a great morning out.

The Eco- living Fair just keeps getting bigger and better each year. More stalls, more demonstrations, more information being passed around and most importantly, more people. As without people…well, it’s not going to be quite so good is it.

Some snippets from the day…

 Have you thought about joining Slow Food Sydney?

 Paint your own umbrella for the kids.

 Food Co-op spreading mandarin love

Urban Bee Hive Honey  is all from Sydney urban hives.

A very knowledgable little friend of Monkey Boy’s who explained this (rather awesome) renewable energy concept that is awaiting approval in Australia. Monkey Boy then explained it all to Mr Chocolate a little later, (and that’s how enthusiastic information gets passed on, kids!)

colourful stilted entertainment

 valet bike parking and free bike maintenance

 a free plant for anyone that wanted one from the local council nursery

and everyone needed a hat.


What have you been up to this fine weekend? 

Any eco-living action?

the community garden

Our local council is trialing a new community food foragers garden. I really love the idea of this and hope that it takes off,  just getting bigger and bigger.

Imagine city living where on each high density living block there was a community kitchen garden readily accessible for all the locals. An attached community compost bin, for all those to access that didn’t have backyards. Seasonal food grown within a hop skip and a jump of where you live, with composting scraps being used for the same garden while decreasing all the food scraps being sent to land fill.

It doesn’t seem like a big ask, does it?

It just makes sense. Cutting back on waste having to be collected by council. Making more efficient use of space. Encouraging a community spirit. I’m sure on each block there would be at least a couple of willing people who would love to regularly tend the small edible space. If people are living in a high density living area, green spots are hard to come by and the chance to actually dip your fingers in to some soil and tend a little foliage would be incredibly appealing to a lot of inner city dwellers.

More green spaces in the city are needed. Whether it be roof tops, street corners, reclaimed concrete areas, where ever they may be. However,  first people need to ask for it, and be encouraging when trials are put into place. Be vocal, spread the good word. Whispered words of encouragement is what gets ideas moving. Spoken words and acts of enthusiasm keep them there.

If everyone’s local councils started up just one food foragers garden in their area, it was successful, and people respected the space. Surely this could mean the start of many more to come?

The benefits of a nation wide scheme like this?… Oh can you imagine.


Do you have any community gardens or food foraging gardens in your area?

Slow Living April

slowing it down…

(a wonderful concept created by the lovely Christine over at Slow Living Essentials)

it's not pretty but it fills happy bellies

Nourish– I’m loving a simple rustic family sized quiche once a week at the moment. A couple of sheets of puff pastry, (seems I got over that packet guilt rather quickly) beaten eggs and what ever looks appealing on the day. The Monkeys quiche of choice? Fetta and some free range bacon. Mr and Chocolate and I? Whatever seasonal vegetables that look particularly quiche like from our local CSA delivered box, (but lets be honest…he’d rather the fetta and bacon one too.)

Prepare– School lunches are particularly easy when all I have to do is whack one out of the freezer. Pesto parmesan scrolls and apple cinnamon ones are the taste of choice at the moment. They are also easy for a hungry mama to grab on the run.

Reduce– I’ve been putting aside some old worn out clothing. Rips, tears, thinning fabric, too big, too small. I’m sure I can turn them into something else. Just waiting for the inspiration as to what. I’ve also been incredibly lucky with receiving a whole bunch of wonderful little girl clothing. She will clearly have a whole heap of Monkey clothing to grow into but a small amount of pink as been infused into the mixture as well.

Green- Being economical with the oven use, and utilising all the racks when cooking. Also cooking bigger batches of things, and cluster cooking. (cluster cooking…. now there’s something to pop into you days vocabulary.) The worm farm is still going strong. The little fellas seem to have worked out their own little wormy balance and it requires very little maintenance.

Grow– I’m growing mould on my bathroom ceiling… does that count? No, no I guess not. I’m also growing my children, and they are growing like weeds!

Create– Making a little hat for a three year old girls birthday. Teddy wanted to model it, as my own residing three year old refused, (at least teddy keeps still.) I’ve also been playing with using vegetables as stamps and creating cards. It’s been fun playing with what works and what doesn’t.

Enhance- There is hooking action going on lately. I still suck, but I’m willing to learn as I want to get better. Hooking plans in the park or cafe with other hook yielding friends. A recent visit to this shop, just inspired the pants off me. (Thankfully they stayed on while I was in there as I didn’t want to scare anyone away.) Crochet and knitting classes I can see being a part of down the track, unless I really nut out the whole crochet thing by myself, (which seems unlikely to happen at this stage…sigh.) I’m still getting my Foodconnect box delivered too, it makes life just a tad easier.

Discover– I plan to become one with the above crochet book… that’s the plan anyway.

every man needs a penguin sinking into his cake

Enjoy- Mr Chocolate’s birthday, being with my little people, BLT’s in the back courtyard with family and enjoying the beautiful time of year that Autumn is.

Terra Madre Day

December 10th is Terra Madre Day.

A Slow Food initiative that is recognised the world over, and coming together as an international day for the third time.

What is it about?

Celebrating eating locally

Supporting small scale farmers

Sharing cooking knowledge

Slow food

There is a whole lot of wonderful things planned for this period around the world. Click here for an interactive map to let you know what’s happening in your area. From Brunch on the Grass, in Maleny- Australia to The Joy of Preserving, in Vancouver- Canada to a whole page of wonderful goings on in Italy.

If none of these community events take your fancy, a small thing you can do is question where your food for the day is coming from. Try and buy local within (160 kms or 100 miles), or at least within your own country. Support small scale farmers and businesses. If you are really inspired, give someone a cooking lesson. Cooking knowledge is easily passed on to another when you have a willing teacher.  How to preserve jam or make bread is a wonderful way to start.

Oodles more information

Slow Food Sydney

Slow Food Australia

Slow Food International

Slow Fish

extra reading

100 mile diet- book

Animal Vegetable Miracle

Living the Good Life