Holding on to businesses and services in country towns through this drought has become a serious concern for a lot of the state's rural communities.
Last year when The Land kicked off its Next Crop series of forums across the state (at Cooma, on March 1, 2018, and which concluded in November in Orange), the season was dry and getting drier - some areas at that time had already been feeding for 18-24 months.
The forums set out to unearth good ideas of how rural communities could be more successful using their existing resources and capabilities.
What was unearthed was a strong desire for change, and great enthusiasm for good ideas, said The Land's editor Andrew Norris.
Given the number of people that were asking "what's next", The Land looked for ideas around how to step up the concept from simply a discussion platform that unearthed good ideas, to something that could enable communities to drive their own change from the grass roots level.
The forum process uncovered behavioural scientist and negotiation expert Allan Parker, whose business, Peak Performance Development Pty Ltd, has clients across Australia and internationally.
Mr Parker has agreed to partner with The Land to give his time and help get this concept up and running, chiefly as a facilitator of the individual community gatherings.
"We will be equipping the communities to act on what the community can do, not wait for politicians to do," Mr Parker said.
"It's about exploring innovation and resulting in new goals and new ways to network together in the community.
“We’re trying to get community conversation to take place, not another community committee meeting,” he said in explaining how this process would work compared to other community meeting experiences people are likely to have had.
It would therefore be a gathering, rather than a meeting, run as an informal conversation that also crossed generational boundaries.
He said, if successful, the process would improve the relationships within the community, both individually, between self interest groups and as a whole.
"It will be conversations that are inclusive, consider the interests of all of us and are what we agree on," he said.
"People need to be willing to explore the reality that there are easier and more productive ways to have good conversations - don't focus on what I can't have, or don't want, or can't do.
"Instead we'll look at what we want and that can be acted upon now."
The meetings will be open to the whole community in the towns in which they are held. This includes Glen Innes, Tooraweenah, Yass and Molong. Entry to the events is free.
The Next Crop Rural Revitalisation Gathering dates:
- Molong: 6pm, Monday, March 4, at the Molong Community Hall. Please RSVP here by Friday 5pm, March 1.
- Tooraweenah: Event postponed. Details will be updated once a new date confirmed.
- Glen Innes: 6pm, Tuesday, March 19, Services Club Auditorium. Please RSVP here before 6pm Friday, March 15.
- Yass: 6pm, Thursday, March 21, at the Yass Soldiers Memorial Hall. Please RSVP here
Once the projects are up and running, The Land will aim to report on each community's progress at key times, and explain the process, goals and outcomes for each community for our readers to also get an insight and understanding of the process.