Beauty and butterflies in the ‘burbs

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Butterfly made from recycled plastic lids

I went to a fantastic event this week. It was a celebration of the Hackham West People Matters Group, which has been running for 10 years – a group of residents and service providers working together to develop and advocate for Hackham West. I was part of the group in the early years, before things changed at work, and it was a total thrill to see everyone and celebrate their latest project – the butterfly garden.

This garden is being created in a park in Hackham West, which previously was a patch of grass pretty bare of everything. It was the site of the memorial to Jacquie, the local woman killed through domestic violence some years ago now. Since that time there has been steady work by the community to develop the area, make it more beautiful.

Debbie and her son Sam have been really crucial to this work. Sam is home schooled, and one of his projects has been working on the butterfly garden – exploring ways to encourage butterflies to return to the suburbs, providing plants that they like, and thinking particularly about more endangered species. His mum is a community dynamo, and has been working alongside him on the project. Debbie and Sam both spoke to the group on Monday, and their passion and commitment to the area and to the work they have done together – and their support of each other – was uplifting and inspiring.

The Council has provided a beautiful sign board about local butterflies and the plants they like – it was ‘presented’ to the community by the mayor at the celebration. As well as planting for butterflies, the community has created a beautiful butterfly in the park, decorated in different small sections by many different local people – a stunning place to sit and walk around.

Other highlights of the day were hearing from local resident and worker in the HW Primary School just down the road, Jill, who has also put in years of commitment to the kids and the area, and a fantastic musical performance by Zeke from the school. He has autism and came with his teacher Tom to sing a song about it. It was truly beautiful, and he got a standing ovation from the crowd at the end of his performance. I heard him talking later with Tom – who thought he said that he ‘wanted to leave now’ and replied that that was understandable and that he had done a good job. Zeke put him right by saying loudly, ‘no I’m so relieved now!’

After all that there was a tree planting ceremony – a number of larger trees are being put in – we planted a red gum – to increase the amount of shade in the park and provide homes for other creatures. It will be a mini forest. Then it was morning tea, provided by the Food for Futures team, and totally delicious too.

I felt so proud of everyone, and of the area itself. Hackham West has a great community and has worked hard over many years to build strength and resilience. The beauty of butterflies – those delicate, strong creatures is a good metaphor for that community (most communities really) – fragile in some ways, but also resilient, persistent and transformative.

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