NEV Baptist Church,

on 6th April, 2013.

Report by Janet Brady, BGC Organiser.


Sustainable Dunedin City Inc. held the first Dunedin’s Big Green Challenge 2012 in conjunction with the events planned around 350.org’s Global Work Party. Such was the success of this, that it was decided to hold another Big Green Challenge. The object was to give $500 grants to groups wanting to carry out particular projects that would, in some way, make their communities more resilient to the effects of climate change and increasing resource depletion.

The challenge was announced at the beginning of September 2012 and by the closing date in November twenty three applications had been received. The panel to decide on the allocation of the ten grants – consisting of SDC Co-Chair, Jocelyn Harris, committee members, Mark Jackson and Ann Dennison, and myself  – had a very difficult task deciding between so many worthy projects.


I was interviewed about the launch for Channel 9 news and the Dunedin community newspaper, The Star, wrote an article about the launch of the Next Big Green Challenge, and again wrote about our selection of the successful applications, as well as writing articles about some of the projects as they happened.


Conditions for the grants were that the projects should be completed by the end of March, 2013 in order that somebody from each group could come to an event to be held in early April and talk about their project.  So on a rainy night just after Easter, nine of the ten awarded grants came armed with photos, videos, and stories for the small but enthusiastic audience. (The only one who couldn’t come, Bud Law, had the excuse he was about to get married. He did, however, take time out of the pre-nuptual festivities to put together a video of his project).


Each person was given five minutes for their presentation, and a further five minutes for questions (a deadline I failed to enforce on account of the fascinating discussions that ensued). Afterwards, supper was served and the real business of networking got underway!


I would like to acknowledge the great assistance given by SDC member, Judy Martin, for all her help in organising the evening, and her constant support throughout the entire challenge. I would also like to thank the media for their interest in the BGC, especially Devi of Channel 9 News, and Dan Hutchinson of The Star. I would like to thank SDC for giving me the opportunity to  organise the BGC. Seeing these projects go from inception to fruition has been both inspiring and a privilege.  And I hope, too, that these projects will be an inspiration to those who attended the closing event, or read or heard about the projects in the media. And finally, thanks must go to all the applicants, who had the passion and drive to undertake these projects.The following is a summary of their presentations on what the BGC grant had enabled them to achieve.

  • Community Permablitz: Jon Foote applied for a grant to do a permablitz for someone who would like to have a food garden but couldn’t afford the materials and needed the help establishing it.  A refugee family was chosen as a worthy recipient. The local communtiy got behind it, the materials were purchased, the volunteers assembled, only for the person who’s garden was to be blitzed changed her mind at the very last moment.  As a result the plants that needed to be planted immediately were donated to the NEV Community Garden.  So Jon’s talk was more of a “how not to organise a permablitz” but he intends to use the rest of the materials purchased for that blitz for work on a new communty garden that is proposed for Bathgate Park in South Dunedin. There was an article about the initial intended permablitz in The Star.
  • A group of  rather brave students from Generation Zero have taken on the task of converting the house that had been officially named the worst student flat of 2012 and turning it in to a warm, sustainable flat with the cooperation of their landlord. Letisha, Lindsay and Alec talked about the work-in-progress and showed a video of the work that had been done so far.– Videos on youtube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MZj1M_D8tgo.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FqotIEYRvhk
  • The previous night they had also appeared on Channel 9 News:    http://www.dunedintv.co.nz/content/transformation-flat-voted-worst-city
  • An article in Critic: http://www.critic.co.nz/news/article/2702/shit-house-chateau-now-simply-house
  • Presbyterian Support Otago Community Development Team applied for funding for resources for the fruit harvesting and preserving workshop initiative that was started several years ago by SDC’s Janet Young when she was working on the SDC/Vodafone project in 2011. Kristen Bracey, the volunteer who coordinated the project this year, talked about the schemes’ growing success, and how the scheme can have a more permanent footing now that they have been able to purchase preserving jars and other necessary equipment.
  • Read more about the project in the feature article that appeared in the ODT: http://www.odt.co.nz/lifestyle/magazine/251091/gift-keeps-giving and  there was also an article in  The Star.
  • Bud Law: Building Plastic Cloches: As Bud was unable to attend, I gave a summary of his project. Unfortunately we had technical difficulities with the video he had made and so weren’t able to show it. However, I was able to describe how impressed I had been with their design and  the standard of construction. Bud works as a landscape gardener and had collected the plastic wrapper off packs of concrete pavers, and waste wood, and had persuaded a bunch of friends to help him build the cloches. They are intended for use in community gardens.

*   Sustainable Dunedin City action
Sustainable Dunedin City Society is made up of persons who are interested in the issues of climate change, declining energy security and sustainability, as they affect Dunedin City. The Society is not affiliated with any political party and aims to facilitate a positive, secure and sustainable future for Dunedin City. For more information or to join go to www.sustainabledunedincity.org.nz or email secretary@sustainabledunedincity.org.nz