The Mayor of Tweed Shire Council has congratulated residents of a Murwillumbah street who have broken down barriers and improved community life through a groundbreaking project to improve sustainability at the grassroots level.

“The Sustainable Street program is a joint initiative of Tweed and Byron shire councils which aims to bring neighbours together for local environmental improvements,” Councillor Warren Polglase said.

“This project has been so successful that Tweed and Byron shire councils are now seeking more streets to take part.

“Tweed and Byron councils are pleased to announce that we have secured State Government funding through the Tweed-Byron Bush Futures Program to deliver the Sustainable Streets package to two streets in each shire in 2010.”

For the past year, Murwillumbah Street has become ‘Sustainability Street’ and neighbours have become friends through swapping goods, information and ideas.

Murwillumbah Street resident Lisa Blackwell was one of the instigators of the project, and sought help from Tweed Shire Council’s Sustainability Officer Dan Walton to help move the project from the discussion stage to reality.

“Initially we wanted to get our little street operating as a community – we wanted to get back to grassroots,” Ms Blackwell said.

“We live in a town but it can be a village. We all know our neighbours but we don’t live in each others’ pockets.”

Interested residents meet once a month at a bench under a shady jacaranda tree to discuss joint and individual projects to reduce water and energy consumption, swap vegetables, eggs, unwanted goods and talk about practical environmental improvements, such as car pooling.

“Through our meetings, we have identified common goals, including a bushland restoration project in a nearby reserve,” Ms Blackwell said.

Over the last few months, Dan Walton has initiated a monthly project to improve environmental outcomes. One month, residents painted gutters with stormwater messages, while another, they set daily targets for water (150 litres per person per day) and energy consumption (less than five kilowatts per person per day).

Through the Bush Futures program, Mr Walton also helped residents at access a State Government grant to plant sustainable street trees, including oranges and lemon myrtles.

“This program offers residents practical ways to restore local biodiversity, improve household water and energy efficiency as well as organic gardening and ethical shopping workshops,” Mr Walton said.

“We’re hoping residents of other streets in Tweed and Byron will be inspired by the hard work, enthusiasm and practical example of Murwillumbah Street.”

Once chosen, the successful streets will participate in series of council-led workshops and community activities including the planting of community fruit trees, painting stormwater messages on gutters, energy and water efficiency workshops and culminating in a community feast using locally sourced ingredients.

Participants will also get the opportunity to provide ideas and suggestions on activities and outcomes they’d like to see for their street.

If you think your street would benefit from this exciting grassroots initiative, download the information package including the application form at www.tweed.nsw.gov.au/sustainability

The closing date for applications is 1 March 2010. People without internet access can call Dan Walton, Tweed Council Sustainability Officer on 02 6670 2555.

The Sustainable Streets program is funded by the Tweed-Byron Urban Bush Futures grant – a local government partnership under the NSW Government Urban Sustainability Program.