Waiting for Godot in Wolloomooloo
Carl Kneipp (centre) – photo by Greening Woolloomooloo
Carl Kneipp does not hide his frustration as he contemplates some of the stalled Greening Wolloomooloo projects. Take the community garden in Dowling Street for example. In July 2009 Housing NSW evicted them with only four days’ notice, notwithstanding the 100+ volunteers who had been involved in the project. In the time since then the supposed reason for the eviction – building new community housing on the site – hasn’t eventuated and the site has reverted to being “a nasty eyesore.”
“These people even refused to collect the rubbish that we volunteers scraped up and pulled out of there; this is the sort of obnoxious nonsense that’s going on. Meantime Clover and the Housing Minister are walking past commenting on what a great job we were doing and all of this stuff and there’s a complete disconnect it seems, the government is out of control. They have no traction on their bureaucrats, no containment whatsoever. I think that’s just a blight on the fact that we elect our government officials to get things done, not to sit back and allow being dictated to by a bunch of fat cat bureaucrats on ridiculous wages doing nothing except feeding their superannuation plans.”
Carl excepts from condemnation those who work closely with the community, but reserves contempt for those who from their aircon offices dictate to those below and virtually obstruct the often good intentions of those government politicians and ministers who frame policy.
Carl Kneipp and Greening Woolloomooloo Inc are now planning legal approaches through the Ombudsman to try to unblock this and other projects.
Greening Woolloomooloo is a not-for-profit organisation seeking to coordinate and support grassroots projects. On its founding in 2009 it won a grant of $5,000 from Landcare and support from the City of Sydney. Its primary purpose is to provide appropriate legal backing and co-ordination for grassroots environmental and cultural improvements in Woolloomooloo: “…striving to serve ALL in our neighbourhood and surrounds by engaging private, public and homeless residents across all accessible social and economic groups by facilitating volunteer initiatives which contribute to our community in beneficial best-practice ways… [GWI] seeks to realise Greening as restoration of vitality or freshness; rejuvenation by supporting individual voluntary integrated endeavours involving Education, Natural Science and Art with emphasis on Sustainable Urban Living through the facilitation of community projects aimed at the shared development of community wide social capital.” The motto on their web site is “We do not inherit the earth from our ancestors – we borrow it from our children.”
Projects include not only community gardens but also public art and computer learning. Carl is a computer scientist and engineer by profession.
GWI also acts as a ginger group or watchdog on policy absurdities. For example, according to the GWI web site: “The City of Sydney spent A$10M of public moneys renovating this historical facility only to have it close for the winter months. This project is aimed to advocate to the City to open the pool for 12 months each year by installing solar heat collectors at the pool site to enable the pool temperature to be maintained in the cooler months, thereby facilitating year round access to this wonderful pool facility and promoting the virtues of solar heating.”