The Enabling Suburbs team have been working on very small ventures and initiatives with the intention of creating opportunities for our locality. Some of these are created independently and others are collaborative. Enabling Suburbs is our side project and it tends to bear some relationship with our other professional work.
We are endeavouring to develop this as a platform for positive local engagement, research and innovation. To date, we have participated in a number of local conversations – including Active Aspley, Long Time, No See? and Connecting Aspley – as well as developed propositions and research that enables sustainable local development.
We recently provided assistance to artist Mandy Ridley as part of her research process for a public art project she is developing for the cycleway. We offered to work with her to develop a more nuanced understanding of the community and locality before other community engagement processes were implemented and joined Mandy on a guided walk through the locality. Mandy has been working on a public artwork that is part of a new stretch of cycleway running along and across Cabbage Tree Creek. The artwork will be a series of panels integrated into a bridge, pictured above. While most of the work on the cycleway is completed, Mandy assures us that the artworks, produced in conjunction with school children, will be installed soon.
We walked along the creekside pathways from the Aspley Rotary Park to the Brisbane Mud Springs then to the Allen Guy Walkway. It was a valuable experiment and, while not formally a walkshop, provided a platform for improvised and reflective explorations of the area to support Mandy’s inquiry about the place. As a group of built environment practitioners, our attention was drawn to the tensions between the ‘natural’ and the ‘built’, prompting us to question the legitimacy of that divide in urban environments, especially when there are far greater tensions and fragmentations at times between the built elements of an area.
After the walk, over a cup of tea in the picnic shed, we discussed some questions about the relationships between spaces and communities – the informality brings out other strands of conversation and connection, including the connective possibilities of broadband (where urban form fails) and our involvement with the Long Time, No See? project. With the anomalie of the mud springs, we reflected on the locality’s volcanic and geological past, noting also the overlays of the Indigenous, industrial and agricultural history of the area – part speculation, part oral record and part written.
Thanks to Mandy for inviting us to be part of this project and responding so positively to the suggestion of a local walk as it prompted further investigation of local history by Ben Iser who reported:
Following on from our walk along Cabbage Tree Creek with Mandy Ridley last month and the discovery of the Brisbane Mud Springs, I have taken a keen interest in researching the history of the Springs both pre and post urban development and I must say that there is not a lot of documented history that I can find.
I had a chat to [a man] who is in his 70’s now and has been a resident of the area for all of his life. He recalls visiting the mud springs as a child with his friends but commented that the actual site on Graham Road was for a long time private property, only accessible by climbing over a fence off Gympie Road. He also recalls that the Mud Springs were always fenced off due to the danger it posed.
While my research has been somewhat fruitless I have come across an interesting article that perhaps sheds further light on Aspley and its relationship to its volcanic history. In the March 2013 addition of the Aspley East State School Newsletter, there is an excerpt from the 50th Anniversary History book which is soon to be released:
‘Did you know that in the early days of the school, the oval was a swamp with ‘sink holes’ and a ‘mud volcano’. Occasionally a student had to be pulled out of a sink hole by staff members which caused great concern and letters to the Education Department asking for funds to rectify the situation. Children who played in the mud volcano on the oval got in serious trouble from the Principal’.
It appears from this article that the Mud Springs at Aspley have not just been limited to Graham Road but in fact have a much larger scope in the area.
There are also three other projects on our radar and which are presently under investigation:
1. Public artwork proposal for Carseldine. This project is still very much in development and will involve our whole project team. It will require community engagement and creative development as well as negotiation with State Government and Brisbane City Council. Some of the research for this project is drawn from Linda Carroli’s Fieldworking project, which includes a walk along Little Cabbage Tree Creek, and Jason Haigh’s proposal for the creekside park on Zillmere Road.
2. Initial investigation of an ‘open studio’ tour (or day) connecting local makers in Brisbane’s northern suburbs and interested members of the community. After talking an artist friend who is about to open a studio in Chermside, Linda wondered if the idea could be scaled up into a tour of local studios. The proposition is similar to ‘open gardens’ but focused on maker and designer studios in the area. Our investigations reveal that there are a many professional makers and designers working from garage or backyard studios/workshops in the northern suburbs.
3. Scoping a small scale market in conjunction with Cup From Above to be presented in the carpark. Linda and John have been talking to Cup From Above with the intention of inviting sellers to bring a suitcase, bundle, box, basket or similar filled with goods to sell (or give away). It is a small scale market experience in a small scale space intended to promote social exchange and micro-transactions. The carpark was used for part of the Long Time, No See? workshop and walkshop.
There are highly successful examples of small markets operating in Brisbane including Suitcase Rummage, which has successfully activated inner urban spaces, festivals and communities. Winn Lane also hosts a market and recently The Green Edge in Windsor hosted a jumble sale and Vinnies at Brighton (pictured above) recently ran a yard sale. With a ‘trash and treasure’ style, ‘suitcase selling’ is also similar to the great suburban tradition of flea markets and car boot sales. It is intended to attract local sellers who are clearing out good quality second hand goods and engage them in recycling, sharing and swapping.
The site is accessed via a driveway off Gympie Road. This opens into a carpark behind the street fronted building. The carpark includes an amenities block and undercover garage. There is also a back deck for use by patrons of Cup From Above. The carpark shares boundaries with a residential property and the car park of another commercial property. The external wall of the neighbouring building forms the third boundary. There are some limitations which may mean the project is not practical in the immediate future e.g. uneven surface, trip hazards and sun exposure. We also think the big wall is asking for a high quality mural which would encourage other uses of this space.
These projects will see us working collaboratively with project partners to develop scope, ascertain feasibility and, if required, raise funds. As ideas and speculative propositions that endeavour to engender and embed sustainability in our community, these projects are beginning catalyse discussions and exploration of the richness and texture of our locality as well as offering insights to the creativity and potential of suburban environments.