Carmen Stewart

BIOGRAPHY

Carmen is passionate about activating change to create futures we would all love to live in. She is the designer of the award winning Making Places project – an initiative that explores what healthier and more sustainable futures for our communities could be like. Carmen has a Masters in Applied Science (Social Ecology) and 26 years experience in the community sector.

ABSTRACT

The 2484 postcode area (in northern-NSW) has higher than State-average rates of unemployment, child poverty, and homelessness (including 25% of those living homeless aged under 25 years). Yet, we know that we live in a generous community, with 1 in 4 locals engaged in volunteering activities. Noticing this, a group of residents living in the 2484 area have formed a collective to create a culture of generosity, responsiveness and, ultimately, a community that is thriving. This presentation shares the first 12 months of our efforts to activate a belief within our community that everyone may experience vulnerability at some point, and that responsibility for thriving rests as much with the people living in the community, as it does with government and social service professionals. The presentation will outline the It Takes a Town project, including the obsessions, guiding behaviours and broad strategies that we are using to create a common agenda and response that focuses on building a thriving community that wraps around children, young people and families to help them identify and move towards their aspirations for a better future (i.e. “Harnessing Generosity”, “Building Circles of Support”, “Creating Impact”). Building on a belief that connections between people living in a community can be harnessed to lead to new initiatives and approaches to creating opportunities for people to thrive, ITT has invited locals to make our obsessions theirs, and to respond according to their abilities, interests and resources. The presentation will also outline our theoretical framework and outcomes to date.
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