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Canberra Environment Centre: Dig deep and help grow a sustainable Canberra

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When it comes to working with local communities to bring about change, an awareness for the environment and the impact we have on it, there’s no doubt it can be a tough gig, but an ultimately rewarding one. So why not add a little fun to the mix and host a fundraiser that beats the best of them?

Next week, the Canberra Environment Centre will be hosting their annual fundraiser event in the capital’s sustainable New Acton precinct but the Centre’s Sustainability Officer Bess Kenway says event-goers are in for a twist.

“Beloved host of In Canberra Tonight Chris Endrey will sit down with David Pope (cartoonist for the Canberra Times); Shane Rattenbury (ACT Greens member for Molonglo); and Simon Sheikh (former Director of GetUp) to tease out some of their known and not so known talents,” she says.

But with an impeding launch date for his soon to be released album, it will be the Melbourne-based singer Dan Kelly hitting the stage as the *ahem* surprise live entertainment. Alongside him, Chris Endrey will be ending the long and successful series In Canberra Tonight, so if you missed his sold out show then be sure to come along.

Roving entertainers, a complimentary cocktail on arrival, a charity auction, and a lucky door prize are just a few things in store for those attend. But if a fun night out with awesome entertainment (and cocktails) aren’t enough to convince, then maybe the cause will.

‘The money raised will allow us continue with our community projects which include regular education workshops, sustainability networking events (including film screenings and q&a panels), an eco-friendly Christmas market, our annual Harvest Festival, a second-hand bike shed, cloth nappy display library and a collaborative consumption tool shed,” explains Bess.

Having never before heard of the Canberra Environment Centre (I’m one of those Canberrans that hibernates 99% of the year), I grabbed the opportunity to ask Bess what the goals and aspirations of the Centre are.

“Our goal is to foster community alongside environmental awareness,” she begins.

“Our projects support the community to nourish itself and the environment together, and to sustain themselves into the future.

“We’ve had great feedback about our sustainability workshops which teach people simple skills like how to make bread, yoghurt and cheese at home. We’ve seen people connect at our workshops over common interests and seen evidence of them implementing the skills they’ve learnt at home.”

But it’s the impact that the Centre has had on the Canberra community at large that surprises me.

“We give people a little more of a sense of autonomy in their lives and in their food and consumer choices, as well as the ability to live more sustainably on a daily basis,” Bess says.

“We inject hope into the community and a sense of being able to make a difference, even if it is in small ways.”

In the coming year, the Centre hopes to continue its three-year long project called Grow Together.

“This involves the planting of kitchen gardens in childcare centres managed by Communities@Work throughout the ACT coupled with nutrition education,” says Bess.

Remember when you made mud pies in the garden? It’s like that but so much more. Children learn about the soil, water, worms and the wider ecosystem whilst engaged in active play. But the gardens also provide a learning opportunity, an opportunity for friendships and building vocabulary, and observing the principles of ecology in practice.

However, the Canberra Environment Centre itself will also be undergoing a bit of a revamp in the next 12 months.

“We are also trying to make the Centre a bit more homely for people to drop in, have a cup of tea and flick through our resource library,” says Bess.

So what can you do to help support the Centre’s mission for a more healthy and sustainable city (and planet)?

“Come to our fundraiser!’ Bess says.

“It’s one of our biggest events yet, and we’d love your support. You can also join our mailing list and come along to any workshops that are of interest, volunteer at the centre, offer your skills as a workshop presenter; or contribute your ideas about what courses and panels you’d like to see us run.”

The essentials

What: The Canberra Environment Centre’s Annual Fundraising Event

Where: Nishi Gallery, NewActon

When: 8.00pm to 11.00pm, Friday 24 October 2014

How much: $45 per entry

Book: Tickets available here or phone 6248 0885

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