Fargo Sandbag Project

Fargo Sandbag Project

Fargo Sandbag Project

Fargo sits along the banks of the Red River, USA and in 2009, this river reached 40.82 feet during a massive flood that left the town significantly damaged. In 2011, when another massive flood was threatening, the citizens of Fargo began working to fill three million sandbags to be ready to prevent another massive flood. Instead of the typical burlap or mesh sandbag, Michael Strand, an associate professor and Ceramics Department head at North Dakota State University, created the Sandbag Art Project. Realising that many Fargo residents were unable to help with sandbagging – area children, seniors and others who may not be able to endure the work of filling or slinging sandbags. Strand worked with the city to bring sandbags to these people so they could help by decorating them with encouraging notes and drawings. The response was wonderful. Volunteers filling sandbags were encouraged and entertained as they pulled out each sandbag with a different decoration.

Michael created a scene where the “flood warriors” are flagging at 3 a.m. as they pass 40-pound polypropylene sandbags toward a makeshift dike. Suddenly a laugh accompanies a sandbag down the line. It’s not the usual white or orange bag but is decorated instead with a pink robot, or with a character called “Sandbag Superman.” Or maybe it just carries a simple message: “In order to be strong, eat chicken.”



Fabrik – Creative Recovery Program

Fabrik – Creative Recovery Program

Creative Recovery : After the Fires

Fabrik Arts and Heritage Centre  is an arts and heritage hub, run by Adelaide Hills Council. Its public program started in early 2019 and at the end of that year, the Cudlee Creek bushfire devastated the area.

As a newly established arts organisation with a remit covering both community and economic development goals, the team at Fabrik immediately looked to ways the premises and public program could play a role in supporting the community in its recovery.


Ewingar Creative Recovery

Ewingar Creative Recovery

Ewingar Creative Recovery Program

The Long Gully Road fire claimed two lives, destroyed 44 homes and devastated the tiny village of Ewingar in northern New South Wales in October 2019.

The destruction and debris scorched the community’s psyche, but a remarkable turning point was reached when the village embraced creative workshops as a form of catharsis.

Hayley Katzen, a local community member managed the development of a series of workshops, reaching out to all local community to participate, lead or support. She facilitated a grant from the Clarence Valley Council and Rural Adversity Mental Health Program. Weaving, ceramic, mosaics food and connection took place over several months.  And it was a songwriting workshop with Australian music icon John Schumann that would become the conduit for connection and healing for the more stoic men of the community.

Hayley said the Long Gully Road song was a powerful acknowledgement of the community’s losses but also a beacon of hope that ends with lyrics about recovery, regeneration and renewal.

Capertee Valley Hydrology Project

Capertee Valley Hydrology Project

Kandos School of Cultural Adaptation and Capertee Valley Landcare


The Capertee Valley is a forcefield of beauty that conjures many clichés, beloved by a small and dispersed community of residents connected to farming, mining and conservation… and many other things. Between November 2019 and January 2020 multiple bushfires threatened to descend the surrounding escarpments into the valley. This was resisted through an enormous coordinated effort of the community. Flames and smoke were a permanent feature of the landscape, local volunteer firefighters responded to countless spot fires down in the fields, and many people had to evacuate several times. It wore away at the Valley community, but also brought its members closer together, as crises often do.

But even before the fire season began, the community was in a vulnerable state. The drought is making farming and other businesses unviable. Members of Capertee Valley Landcare, led by Kerrie Cooke and Julie Gibson, began dreaming of a project that could raise the morale of the community and regenerate the Valley environment. This is how the Capertee Valley Hydrology Project got going.



Refuge – Arts House Melbourne 2016-2021

From droughts to floods, mass displacements to pandemics and heatwaves, Refuge was never just a hypothetical.


Refuge drops us in the hot zone of different climate-related disasters. Flood, heat, pandemic and displacement: this six-year project offers us new ways to rally as a community and prepare for climate crisis.


Since 2016, Refuge has brought together people who might not normally collaborate in a crisis – local residents, artists, scientists, Elders and experts from the world of emergency services. Their task is to identify what matters when the unthinkable becomes real: what being prepared means in the face of disaster, how the survival of the individual is inextricably bound up with the survival of community, and what role we can each play.


Refuge promotes new ways to ground equity, access, dignity and hope in our response to catastrophe through a creative approach.

In 2016, we imagined a local flood and transformed the North Melbourne Town Hall into a relief centre for 24 hours.

In 2017, we envisaged the increasing possibility of five consecutive days over 40°C.

In 2018, we examined a pandemic event and what happens when the risk of contagion means you would never bring people together.

In 2019, we examined displacement prompted by climate crisis.

In 2021, we ask what happens when these crises meet.

Creative Recovery Network

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