The Story Behind the Story

Neighbourhood Stories St Marys is a groundbreaking initiative of Penrith City Council’s Neighbourhood Renewal Program, demonstrating an integrated approach to cultural policy implementation and innovative creative community engagement.

The Neighbourhood Stories process engages local residents through workshops in a creative conversation with artists, community organisations and local government in the renewal of the neighbourhoods where they live. The workshops in St Marys have included over 20 hours of new media training to residents, facilitated by CuriousWorks. Residents created multimedia works embedded on Google maps, developing a creative communities channel and online platform for people’s stories and perspectives to be heard.

The project has empowered residents to actively contribute towards integrated policy development making positive change in their neighbourhood. Raw footage provided data to support Council’s local planning processes and the development of the Neighbourhood Action Plan St Marys. Furthermore, the initiative built an online platform for the creativity and stories of the Neighbourhood Renewal areas.

Neighbourhood Stories has successfully resulted in residents having direct input in Council decision making processes, demonstrating a model that integrates cultural policy implementation with creative community engagement processes. This project has been a valuable opportunity to demonstrate how creativity can be a powerful medium for artists, residents and local government to collaborate and find creative solutions to local issues and emerging potential in communities. This process builds on strengths and enables positive self determined change in the places where people live. Neighbourhood Stories is nurturing  ‘invisible’ cultures by empowering communities and individual potential through collaboration, learning, imagination and creativity.

All raw data of interviews has informed the development of the St Marys Neighbourhood Action Plan (NAP). The NAP was endorsed by Penrith City Council in October 2010, this has contributed towards integrated policy development making positive change in the neighbourhood. Sustainable benefits to participants include building skills development and creative pathways for local people. Pathways for new projects stemming from this initiative between project partners CuriousWorks and St Marys Senior High School are already underway. Feedback from project partners further elaborates on the positive outcomes ”Monica gained an enormous amount from the program , confidence, self awareness, a sense of pride relating to her cultural and community heritage, an amazing skills set in the IT area and leadership skills,” Kristine Beazley, Principal St Marys Senior High School.

Neighbourhood Stories has provided a creative online platform for people’s stories and perspectives to be heard. Stories previously invisible in the local community have become ‘visible’. People have made new connections; furthermore the process has empowered residents to actively contribute to Council planning processes.

Check out the PDFs below! To download, right-click on the link and select “Save Link As”.

Kingswood Park 2008

Kingswood Park Neighbourhood Action Plan 2008

Kingswood Park NAP Report 2008

Londonderry 2009

Londonderry Neighbourhood Action Plan Sep 09

Londonderry Engagement Report Sep 09

Oxley Park 2009

Oxley Park Neighbourhood Action Plan Sept 09

Oxley Park Engagement Report Sept 09

Kingswood 2010

Kingswood Neighbourhood Action Plan 2010

Kingswood Community Engagement Report 2010

St Marys 2010

St Marys Neighbourhood Action Plan 2010

St Marys Community Engagement Report 2010