In Conversation with Elly Bird and Katie Cooper-Wares
From the epicentre of the Northern Rivers flood recovery, we are joined by Elly Bird and Katie Cooper-Wares.
Both have been instrumental in the founding and development of the Resilient Lismore community recovery organisation, alongside other roles – Elly as a Councillor for Lismore City Council and Chair of Arts Northern Rivers and Katie as a dancer, artist, environmental educator and founder of the Creative First Aid Alliance group.
They discuss the need to reframe community preparedness; how the arts can support in reimagining the future after such an immense loss of safety and identity; and share on-ground learnings from living with the reality of compounding disasters in their community.
In Conversation with Elly Bird and Katie Cooper Wares
Scotia: Hi I’m Scotia Monkivitch,
Welcome back for another episode of Creative Responders: In Conversation; our monthly interview series where we hear from people on the frontlines of the emergency management and creative sectors as they prepare, respond and recover from disasters.
Today, from the epicentre of the Northern Rivers flood recovery, we are joined by Elly Bird and Katie Cooper Wares.
Along with the black summer bushfires, the northern rivers flood disaster from earlier this year has marked the necessity for a massive shift in the way we approach disaster planning in this country.
Both Elly and Katie have been instrumental in the founding and ongoing development of the Resilient Lismore community recovery organisation along with many other roles working in the space of government, community and the arts…Elly as a Councillor for Lismore City Council and Chair of Arts Northern Rivers and Katie, as a dancer, artist, storyteller and also founder of the Creative First Aid Alliance group
In this conversation, we discuss new approaches to community preparedness; how the arts can support in reimagining the future after such an immense loss of safety and identity; and Elly and Katie share their on ground learnings from living with the reality of compounding disasters in their community.
Please enjoy my conversation with Elly Bird and Katie Cooper Wares
Scotia: Hello, Elly and Katie. Welcome to Creative Responders. I’m joining you today from Wadawurrung and Dja Dja Warung Country I’m down in Ballarat in Victoria. Very overcast, Where are you joining us from, Katie.
Katie: I’m on Yaegl Country. It’s blue sky. Blue sky day here. But windy. But I just. I just went for a quick walk on the beach to try and reset you between meetings. So it’s beautiful.
Elly: I’m joining you today from Widjabul Country in the heart of the Bundjalung nation. And it’s definitely spring. Spring is springing all over the place. So it’s blue sky, sunshiney, there’s a nice breeze. And yeah, we’re starting to heat up a bit, which is nice after many months of cold weather.
Scotia: I’m very grateful for your time today. I know that you’re both in a big journey of lived experience of disasters in your community. You both embody the ideas of the community centered recovery in action that we talk about so much. So thank you for joining me today to share your stories and especially when I know you’re still very much in the midst of the process down there.
Elly I might start with you – you’re you’re the executive director of Resilient Lismore. And Katie, I know you were instrumental in founding the organisation and have been involved in many ways over these past years. But for listeners who may not already know. Resilient Lismore, it’s a community led recovery organisation that was originally established at Lismore Helping Hands to support the March 2017 flood recovery. But as we all know, you’ve continued to experience significant disaster impacts since that time and especially with the devastating floods from earlier this year. Could you Elly maybe tell us a bit about how the group initially came about and some of the ways it’s grown or evolved since then into its current form that you’re leading?
Elly: Yeah, sure. So, yep. As you recognized, there so Resilient Lismore had its genesis in a community initiative called Lismore Helping Hands that started as a social media response to the floods in 2017 by Katie Cooper Wares there on the call with us and a couple of other brilliant women, Mandy Carr and Maddy Brennan, among others. And so in 2017 it started as a social media response but reasonably quickly we discovered that we needed to move to an on ground organising response and so we delivered about three weeks out of the south Lismore train station, co-ordinating volunteers and coordinating all sorts of offers of help and donations. People who work in disasters are very familiar with that community response that happens – the outpouring of love in the form of goods. And so we managed that. In between 2017 and now we maintained the Facebook group and it slowly and steadily grew. We used that group as a community, community learning space, really, where we talked about disasters, we talked about preparedness. We used it to amplify official emergency warnings in subsequent flooding events. It was very well utilized during the bushfires in 2019/20 as a place where people were communicating and talking about what was happening. And then of course, 28th of February kicked off in the Northern Rivers and the group grew very rapidly. We started with about seven and a half thousand members then and the group now has 32,000 and is still sort of steadily increasing. We also saw a return to on ground organising. So resilient Lismore now seven and a half months on from the 28th of February event, operates a…as an organization we have transitioned to now we have seven part time staff and a team of around 50 regular volunteers and we deliver community rebuild support really for residents of Lismore and outlying communities as well. And so we’re very much in that space of co-ordinating volunteers to help people rebuild their lives.
Scotia: Mm a massive endeavor and a lot of history and experience backed up behind that.
Elly [00:06:07] Yeah, definitely. Sometimes I say to people that the reason that Resilient Lismore has been so successful this time is because we went through that experience in 2017 and we had done our training round pretty much. So we we knew what was coming, we knew what to expect. And whilst this event was exponentially larger, the foundational elements of it we knew and understood. So we were able to position ourselves to support our community.
Scotia: And interesting it feeds into that broader conversation that’s happening nationally around kind of greater investment into preparedness in terms of skills and training. And we’ll talk a bit more about that later because I know you have lots to say about that, too, but Katie as part of the process that you involved in. And also through the earlier work of the 2017 flood, there’s a lot of activation and energised movement from the creative sector in the region. And you’re a dancer, an artist, a storyteller and have been quite instrumental in the establishment of what is being named now the Creative First Aid Alliance, which we’ve been connecting in with you through it. Can you tell us a bit about the process of setting up this alliance and why it’s been important for you to create this collaboration across the sector and how you see it working within the bigger picture of things like Resilient Lismore.
Katie: Yeah. Well, I guess, you know, having had that experience from 2017 and and being able to learn off people like Elly and other leaders like in our community, um, I know a good thing that we, that we do at Resilient Lismore is that we, we identify where the gaps are and keep checking back. You know, it’s like where are the gaps and where can we help fill. And so for me a gap that I really saw was that our arts organisations and artists, creatives just weren’t really connecting with each other, but for lots of reasons. I mean, we’re in a post-COVID time as well. So we’ve, we’ve been really isolated from each other. And, you know, I guess personally, I know how much the arts offers, you know, myself and my family in times of of need. And I knew what it could offer our community. And I just felt yeah, I just felt that that’s a role that I could play, is to bring people together and link them to resources. So, you know, at the moment we’ve got arts organisations and artists, therapists, youth in our youth organisations, and we come together and we support each other in the projects. So we brainstorm the creative recovery projects that we want to get out into community and ways that we can do that in, in create safe spaces and trauma informed practices.
Scotia: It’s early days, isn’t it? I mean, we can say it’s seven months, but still very, very early days. And I think what I’m hearing in that Alliance group is what is always talked about but isn’t necessarily viewed as a gap, is a kind of peer to peer relationship support, but also a capacity to be able to build skills whilst we’re still in action. And I mean, that’s a really hard thing. People are very overwhelmed and understanding they need to be doing, but at the same time, the skill gap between your empathetic response and your capacity to do something sometimes is a problematic area where there’s potential to do harm if it’s not done effectively or is not connected into other services and support. And I think in the recovery space, that idea of collaboration, you know, the national principles of disaster recovery, talk about communication and and collaboration being core principles of good recovery. And, you know, this alliance to me really fills a great support need to be able to do that better and to be able to do it for the development of responses more effectively.
Katie: Yeah, especially for the long term. Like, you know, when I reflect back on when we were hit with the first huge flood event, I think it was probably like two weeks later you had a bunch of artists and everyone was in kind of that real that response that they were hyped up and they’re like, we’re going to do this and I’m going to do that. And then the energy kind of level just really drops. And so it’s just so important that we’re checking in with each other about self-care and that and, and that we’re doing things with best practice for our communities. Like keep checking back to that. Why, why are we doing it? You know what? It’s yeah. Super important.
Scotia: You know, I think it’s interesting and maybe we can talk a bit about that idea of the energy and depletion of energy, which is a real key thing. And I think in current environments that we live in, in this idea of compounding impacts is kind of a generic conversation, but there’s not necessarily much put into place to see how we manage that in the future. And I know you’re sitting there with this next rain event hanging off the coast there with the potentiality of being quite instrumental, like how do we manage our energies and how do we manage our volunteers and how do we manage ourselves to create flow around the ongoing impacts rather than seeing things as singular events, which is so much how the structure of disaster management has been framed. I’m kind of interested to hear your thoughts about that given that you’re living that and you’re living that challenge. How do you see your two organisations or your collective organisations responding to that?
Elly: I’ll jump in. So I think that it’s very important that governments in particular reframe their thinking around preparedness and around disaster preparedness and really lean into a community development approach, which is why I think creative recovery in particular is really important. There needs to be a shift to an understanding that if we build networks and build community connections and build relational trust within communities, then that inherently makes us better prepared for if and when disasters happen. So you know, as well as just going around Lismore for example, and saying do you all have your flood plan? I think there needs to be a really strong focus and that focus being matched by funding and that community development projects are prioritised so that we improve community wellbeing, we improve community connectivity, and then in doing so we build our community resilience and our ability to respond to whatever challenge comes next. Now that’s not saying it’s going to be easy, and we definitely are living in a time of compounding events. So for us here in the Northern Rivers, yeah, we’ve had floods followed by fires, followed by COVID, followed by more floods, followed by still more floods in the event that we’re living through now. So I just think it’s really important that we reframe our approach to preparedness away from just the practical nuts and bolts of it, to how do we prepare a community to support and nurture each other as we move through these trying times? So we need to yes, definitely focus on practical emergency management planning, but we also need to focus on community building initiatives where we build communities of trust and support.
Scotia: And I think that’s a really beautiful reflection to what you’re doing, Katie, with the alliance in that many of the people who are coming to join that alliance are feeding into the lives of people who have long history of relationships with your local communities, who are running programs ongoingly, that have that relationship of trust, that can be built on in terms of times of challenge or, you know, stress that we are dealing with now so that you’ve got a baseline of safety and comfort within that, within the people and the processes that people are using like how how is that conversation happening within the alliance currently?
Katie: Yeah. I guess because we have such a a broad range of artists and that are working on different kinds of projects, you know, there’s there, there’s offerings and space and responses that are about connecting and comforting and. You know, offering space in our experiences to grieve or process. But then there’s also offerings that are just purely joyful fun and anything that’s not flood and I think that having that you know big spectrum is kind of it’s just it’s just like all the interconnecting pieces of what makes a person and what makes a community and what makes someone resilient. What makes someone strong? It’s it’s kind of like it’s it’s I’m not going to say it’s all we can do, but it’s it’s like because. Because we’re living in such uncertain times, the more health, the healthier and the more whole that we can kind of create know or help hold space for for our community members. It’s it’s it’s kind of like that’s going to be, that’s going to be the foundation working.
Scotia: It’s a vital thing to remember what it is to be human and why we are connecting and why we need to be supporting each other. And again, a beautiful gift that the creative engagement processes offer this way of re-imagining ourselves together collectively and with a sense of delicate care.
Katie: Yeah. It’s kind of like, yeah, that reimagining. How, why? Why do we want to get through? How do we get through? It’s tricky. There’s so many unknowns.
Scotia: But I’m interested in, you know, these different networks and groups form and they have a kind of action and purpose at a local level in terms of addressing immediate needs and long term needs. And again, the long term is, I should say, Elly, the really vital key that often gets chopped off. And I’m just wondering how you’re thinking about using or how the networks that you were working in are thinking about escalating that conversation? Because, again, at a local level level and your engagement with local council and Elly, I understand you work with Lismore City Council as a Councillor, you know, how do we use these networks or these platforms to be able to raise these concerns and these conversations that we’re having to be able to educate people about the vital need for investment in community development programs or investment in cultural programs. And how do you think we might be able to do that better? Because it’s not that there is a push not to do I just think it’s that people aren’t necessarily educated to understand the connection or the value or the propositions that groups like the Creative First Aid Alliance are putting forward.
Elly: Yeah, I think that we need to keep advocating. And you know, as I was listening to you ask the question, all that comes to my mind is that we need to elevate the importance of well-being. So I think often in disaster recovery, there’s a focus on restoration of infrastructure and there’s a focus on restoration of roads. And in this particular event, obviously, there’s schools, there’s sewage treatment plants, there’s public buildings, there’s all manner of infrastructure and hard restoration that needs to be done. But for me, I think we need to ensure that the conversation is always focused and anchored around well-being. And what is it that enhances well-being and what is it that creates community well-being and what is it that brings the community back together and. That’s where the role of the arts is so important, and that’s where community networks and community connectivity is so important because sometimes.
I often reflect on that. You know, no individual is an island, we are social creatures. And so we need to emphasize and prioritise the spaces and places that we can come together and be together and live through this together. And I guess that’s just our challenge as recovery practitioners is to make sure that that is always part of the conversation that we don’t just revert to, well, let’s rebuild that building and rebuild that road and therefore that community will feel better. Is that will? But what is it that’s going to increase the well-being of that community as they do things together in that building? And to ensure that that’s really high on the agenda of the people that are making decisions about recovery moving forward.
Scotia: Yeah. It’s interesting you I mean I think that’s a vital part and I know we’ve talked about this, Katie, in terms of having alternative voices on those decision making panels. And I understand that particularly across the Northern Rivers, this kind of different processes that are being put into place to to make planning happening but may be one of the key avenues is about ensuring that we all support places for alternate voices on those platforms. And that’s not necessarily always easy, but it’s a very big part of our activism in terms of representing your communities. Thoughts about that?
Katie: Yeah, yeah. So that that’s that’s another gap that we identified that that there isn’t really there isn’t anyone really advocating for to make sure that there’s artistic representation at those levels. And as people make those decisions, we live, this area is just so rich with artists. It’s like, and I know that you look at statistics like even economically and that that it brings to the area. So I guess it’s finding a way. So finding a way to speak, speak, speak the language, you know, to make sure that. It’s seen as important, that it’s viewed as important. And it’s not just, you know.
Scotia: And so when you say speak the language, you mean adopt a language that’s used within those kind of more practical processes of decision making to translate our language. The language was created into a language that’s being heard.
Katie: Yeah. Which is which is so tricky. I mean, you know, I sit here and I stumble over the language because I’m you know, I’m I’m a dancer. But it is it’s a it’s a learning process. And I think that that’s that’s that’s a huge thing that the Creative Recovery Network is offering us. Like, I mean, I’ve I’ve I’ve already learned so much. I know enough about systems and bureaucratic systems to know that they. They don’t they fail people. But I also know that you have to learn how to work within the system and then kind of gently push to get your voice heard within that. So that’s it’s yeah. Look, I’m learning. We’re all learning. Uh, but if we don’t actually advocate for it and speak up for it, I don’t know what recovery would look like without the without the arts. It’s just like, especially for, like for our area. That’s our that’s the richness of this place. It’s the colour wake or the rainbow where the rainbow region where we’re all diverse and wacky and and creative and I think that’s I think that’s a there’s a huge amount of creatives that I know that have been involved in the recovery process. I think I read somewhere else you might you might have read that, too, but it was like, you know, someone wrote imagine if they put like all that the event planners in charge of imagined. Imagine if they did Elly…
Elly: It’s a directly relatable skill. Yeah, I fully, fully support the transition of events management expertise into disaster recovery. And I would actually say to anyone in any community listening, if you want to start thinking about planning for your community, find your organisers, find your people that put on events. Find the people that know how to bring people together to have parties, because those are the people that you’re going to need to call on if and when a disaster comes to your community. But I just just want to reflect on this community engagement aspect, because I think that one of the challenges in the Northern Rivers and I know we’re talking about the inclusion of artistic voices on those processes, but at the moment, there is actually no mechanism for the inclusion of community voices at all. So at the moment the recovery is very driven by bureaucrats, is very driven by agencies, is very driven by formal government organisations, and there are no community advisory groups. There is no community participation there shaping up what their community engagement is going to look like going forward. And so more generally, we have an advocacy piece to be done about listening, respecting and engaging to all of the varied voices in our community in that process. And for that in community engagement, not to be one way. And so that’s that’s the piece of advocacy that I’m really focused on at the moment is okay, as the Northern Rivers reconstruction stands up, Reconstruction Corp stands out. What is your community engagement framework? How are you going to have those community conversations? And it won’t work if it’s one way. It won’t work if it’s the corporation saying this is what we’re going to do in your community and you just need to stand by and let it happen or, you know, participate in this survey or send us an email that is not inclusive and appropriate community engagement. And so we really need to be pushing for community engagement that is meaningful and that gives everyone a pathway into that process where they can feel heard and acknowledged. The arts definitely fundamentally and creative practitioners and creative thinkers and dreamers and visionaries have to be included in that process and respected. But we need to start by actually having engagement processes full stop.
Scotia: Well, it’s interesting, isn’t it? That it’s 2022 and we’re still having to advocate on that behalf. But it does seem to be an argument that’s lagging behind the thinking and the strategies that surround the disaster management sector, which is all about community engagement and linkage, etc.. But so in that case, do you think, Elly and Katie, what what other support from outside of your communities would help you in that advocacy role? Because it’s a very wearing one also and one that isn’t very giving, really. So, you know, if we’re thinking about sitting in this space and what sort of outside support would be helpful
Elly: Yeah, I’ve reflected on things a little bit and I often try to sort of lift myself out of out of the situation. So, you know, if it was another community that this has happened to, what would be the thing that I would really encourage outside, outside organisations or individuals to offer as support? And for me, I think a lot of it may well be a piece of it is around governance. So I think that communities often get worn down by the holding of meetings or putting together agendas or having to do minutes or then having to do action notes and having the right incorporated bodies in place to be able to leverage the grant assistance that’s about to come. And I feel like that sort of practical support could be really useful for disaster impacted communities. So rather than I know I said I wasn’t putting myself in the picture, but rather than me having to shop around and organise or Katie having to organise 20 people to attend a meeting on a particular day and manage everyone’s competing diaries, perhaps that’s something that could be offered by an outside group who could say, Look, we want to support you to do the work that you need to do, to have the conversations you need to have. And one thing we can do from an external perspective is help you to get that organising in place so you don’t have to do that heavy lifting, because that takes a lot of time and energy to just get people in one room to have the conversation. And there’s also some rapid learning that needs to be done around around governance and grant writing. I mean, we’re all if we’ve been to any disaster recovery discussions lately, it’s always raised by community groups, just the onerous burden of having to put in all of these grant applications, some of them quite lengthy and detailed with a lot of work involved to try and access some of that recovery money. Whereas if some of that money was able to flow quicker and faster with less hoops to jump through, then that would be massive support for communities as well. Just to get in and do the work that we all want to do to support each other.
Katie: Mmm yeah, I totally agree. We had a creative first aid meeting this morning and we just it was, it was yeah, got on the subject of grants and it’s just like everyone is just exhausted, you know, it’s just to even to even start. It’s just I mean, a lot of creatives we struggle with grant writing like to start with, but, but there’s so many amazing ideas out there of things that we could offer our community and ways that we could work with that community. But yeah. So yeah. Grant writers, send them all, send them all here!
Scotia: It’s interesting. It’s like it’s like the bigger picture of how we understand preparedness and in again, getting to that relational sensibility like in order to hand over projects beyond your kind of network of peers, is about building trusting relationships with organisations and networks at that sit outside, you know, you’ve got your immediates that would be bearing impact themselves and then the next room and the next. And how do we start to think in a projected sense, like who who is in our third ring that we know we have a direct relationship with or we need to build a relationship when the time hits that we that they can pick up on the expectations there and they’re very happy to play that role. It’s a kind of broader relational process, isn’t in terms of how we think about ourselves sitting in our local region, our regional region and our state region and then our national region.
Elly: Yeah. And I actually think that’s been one of the successes for resilient Lismore this time because we had those relationships with some of those external organisations and agencies. I mean I remember even in those first few days I was on the phone to people that I already had relationships with in the Red Cross, for example, who were going right Elly, yep we know you, we can pick up the phone and we can start to talk about how we’re going to support you and what we might be able to bring, rather than having to find the community leaders or find the community initiatives to be able to tap into. So one of our advocacy points is the need for place based, community led organisations with core funding, and I’ll very unashamedly wave the flag of Resilient Lismore here. But communities need organisations that are focused on resilience and able to respond if and when a disaster happens and they need to be locally led, place based organisations that are then ready to leverage those outer rings of support and that can come into a community. And the other benefit of that is that by having a place based organisation, we then have those internal community relationships and understand the network of organisations and individuals. So we are able to channel those external offers of help and try to connect them with the people that are going to be able to leverage them but without an organisation or and I do think it needs to be an organisation and in some communities those are neighbourhood centres for example, that place based, locally led organisational resourcing and resilience building needs to be a key focus for future funding and future preparedness for the disasters that we know are going to keep increasing in scale.
Scotia: It’s a long term view, isn’t it, having a lens down the seven generations that rather than the three years.
So your communities, you know, in some ways the Northern Rivers is way beyond just Lismore, but a lot of the media focus, etc, has focused on that town as kind of representative and perhaps as many on the outskirts of that, are feeling left behind, but are part of a bigger picture of recovery that so kind of massive responsibility across seven short of many, many people impacted in a raft of different ways. And so how do you look at I mean your work in Lismore is very specific to Lismore and Katie the Alliance is trying to capture that whole region and trying to ensure that gaps are filled in whatever way that the collective group can do so. And to keep remembering these smaller communities that are equally building their recovery journeys, how do you how do you see the process of connect, connecting and interconnection? Because it’s a big challenge isn’t it?
Katie: But yeah, it really is.
Scotia: Particularly when you have the external pressures of maybe shrinking it down to one particular identity rather than a collective one.
Elly: Well, for starters, I’d say that we are called, Resilient Lismore. But that doesn’t mean that our work is geographically constrained to Lismore itself. When we kicked off, we launched our Flood Help NR dot com dot au website for the Northern Rivers because our experience from previous events was that we would be supporting some of those other communities. Now the scale of this event meant that it wasn’t like 2017. On 2017 we were sending food, supplies and resources to Corokai, for instance, and really supporting that community. So given that Lismore is the epicentre and the scale has been so significant here, we have been bit constrained with capacity, but we are supporting people in Wardell, we are working with people in Corakai, we’re sending people out to Bungawalben so our work is not constrained only to the geographical limits of Lismore. So there’s that. But the other real need that there is in the Northern Rivers is to build regional connectivity as well or to improve regional connectivity and to make sure that communities are networked together and that we’re able to work alongside each other as we move forward. There are a number of recovery programs that are very close to launching that will be doing that exact sort of work. So they’ll be traveling out to some of those outlying communities and ensuring that they’re as connected as they can be. But it’s really challenging and. Yeah. And you know, what’s happened to us in the Northern Rivers isn’t a Lismore specific thing. There are people right across a very large area of land who’ve been heavily impacted. I think that’s what makes this disaster so significant. It’s an entire region that has been forced to have a little existential look at who we are and and what it is that it means to live in the Northern Rivers. We’ve something like this can happen to us. So a bit of a long winded response. But yeah, it’s, it’s incredibly challenging on so many levels and how do we bring people along? But I guess I would just loop back to our need to focus on community development, our need to focus on resourcing and supporting community leaders or community networks that establish within those individual communities and then ensuring that they’re all talking to each other and connecting in to the greater recovery framework.
Katie: Yeah. I mean, we’re slowly, slowly getting there, like making more and more connections with different organisations like Seed Arts that are going out to primary schools. In outlying areas and we make sure that we’re linked up with the Northern Rivers Community Healing Hub, which are starting to do outreach programs as well. So we’ll be able to offer Creative First Aid along with that. But there is there is that feeling out there that that these smaller communities have been left behind in the conversation. So yeah, we’ll keep at it. I think you have to get out there and just talk to people. Like, I mean, if I had more hours in my day, I would just go to every market and every community hall and every CWA and just chat and make those connections because it’s it’s time. Just time takes time and listen.
Scotia: It’s time to sit and listen it’s the ideery process is like and how do we yeah, you know, then how do we share the load of the listening so that the information can be fed up? And that’s the power of those networks.
Katie: Yeah, it’s like a lots of cups of tea or something need to be had.
Scotia: Well your experience has your communities have experienced such immense impact that’s involved this loss of identity and loss of sense of safety? What do you think in the next little period of time and certainly going into the potentiality of a new event that you would see some ways the arts could support reimagining that sense of place or reimagining safety and a sense of future, because they will have to be some quite radical changes in terms of infrastructure and places to live as well as a reframing of how you see your identity with this shift shifted or shifted spaces.
Katie: I guess. Is it I could have there’s multiple answers to that, but it’s very hard to give one definite answer because we just don’t know do we Elly. I do really like I guess I guess with this summer anything that we can do to calm the nervous system, anything that we can do to have a break, have some respite so any creative recovery project that we can get out there that just offers some peace.
Elly: I think that there’s also some opportunities for the creative arts to have a real role. If we go back to the community engagement piece, so I think that we should really be building in creative processes and practitioners to community engagement, community conversations. I think one of the things that I love when I see effective creative recovery projects is the opportunity for people to capture their story or their thinking in creative ways. So be that storytelling, be that visual representation of community meetings, for example. Be that you know, places to go and tie your visions for the future, for the community onto a particular installation or art piece. I think there are so many opportunities to use creative methodologies to help people create some meaning about what it is that they’ve been through or where they want to go. One of the big challenges with our recovery at the moment is that we are in limbo. There’s no information or direction or solid planning being shared with the community about where we’re going. So that’s that’s really challenging. But hopefully, maybe even before that happens, the arts could have a role to play about helping people, to re-imagine who we are, where we are, and where we might want to go together. And that’s the role that I can really say that the creative arts can play a really strong, strong role in.
Scotia: A beautiful offer, and a great, courageous adventure for us all to jump into. Well, thank you both for sharing so generously with us today. And I know it’s a big, busy lives that you both carrying in in partnership with your community. So I wish you all the best and look forward to working with you over the next months and years, supporting where we can wake and our listeners connect with you as they like to learn more about or to offer some support for the work that you’re doing.
Elly: Well, you can find resilient Lismore on Instagram, on Facebook, we have the resilient Lismore Facebook group. Our website is www dot flood help NR dot com. We’re busy but we are up for all sorts of partnership and collaboration and we welcome and invite anyone at all to get in touch with us. We will be at this for a number of years. So yeah, touch base and let’s see what we can do together.
Katie: And you can look up creative first aid dot com dot au and check out some of the projects and artists out there working in our communities.
Scotia: So thank you so much, Katie and Elly. And enjoy your summer ahead, the Spring and the beautiful colours and blue skies.
Katie: Thank you. Thanks, guys.
Scotia: Thanks for joining me for Creative Responders: In Conversation and special thanks to Elly and Katie for joining us.
We will include those links in our show notes if you’d like to connect in with the great work they are doing.
If you’d like to access episode transcripts and research links related to the podcast, head over to creative recovery dot net dot au where you can find all of our past episodes.
This podcast is produced by me, Scotia Monkivitch, and my Creative Recovery Network colleague, Jill Robson. Our sound engineer is Glen Morrow.
We’ll be back next month with another conversation – I hope you can join us then.
Thanks for listening.
How to Listen
You can find Creative Responders on Apple podcasts, Spotify, Google Podcasts or your favourite podcast app. You can also listen to all of our episodes right here on our website and access transcripts and resources related to each episode.