The following supporting statements come from a range of people - from our local Federal member of parliament, to the Fremantle mayor, from the editor of a leading sustainable magazine to international speakers.
Tim and Shani show the sort of vision that Australians are desperate for, but which is sadly in very short supply among our leaders. They have turned their vision of co-operative, sustainable urban living into a pulsating, energising, and world-beating reality. I honestly believe that they are ahead of nearly all community sustainability projects anywhere in the world. They are an ongoing inspiration to me, my readers, and all who have contact with them. Alan Gray, Editor, 'Earth Garden' magazine.
Shani, Tim and their neighbours in their wonderful street are an inspiration and a solution for every citizen and every street - the answer to our energy, water, soil and resources challenges are outside our house in our gardens and streets; they've proven it. Michael Mobbs, Sustainability Coach
I think that quite possibly the full impact of Shani and Tim's teachings and the lives they have touched may never be known. Thats because they don't just 'teach a method', they inspire and empower people to make real changes in their lives and communities. I have know participants of their courses create community gardens, start riding bikes, run sustainability events, change workplace cultures, start action groups and even change careers. I work in waste education and our whole team has come from one of Shani and Tim's courses. In Perth Living Smarties have sorted waste at the Fairbridge music festival, founded Plastic Free July, run the successful Less is More festival, started Freo Cycle Chic and the recycling organisation Western Salvation, just to name a few! Rebecca Prince-Ruiz, , Sustainability & Waste Education, Western Metropolitan Regional Council
Shani and Tim have made sustainability fun, real and practical for the whole Fremantle community. They have shown that true sustainability not only reduces our ecological footprint but also creates better communities and makes them more economically resilient. It has been inspiring to see how they have lead the way in the necessary transformation that needs to be made towards a more sustainable society and I have recommend them for this award with full enthusiasm and heartfelt thanks. Brad Pettitt, Mayor, City of Fremantle
The Fremantle community has a reputation for being passionate about their community and the environment. This is most clearly demonstrated in the work that Ecoburbia has inspired in Hulbert St. After participating in a Living Smart course, the owners of Ecoburbia have stepped up to Ghandi’s challenge to ‘be the change that they’d like to see in the world’. They have united the residents of Hulbert St to a showcase of what a community can achieve. One of the main highlights of what Hulbert St achieves is the annual Sustainability Fiesta. Each year, they shut down the street, get agreement from every resident to free the street of cars and then open it up to about 100 sustainability stalls and 5000 guests. The formal evaluation of this program shows that over 90% of people returning to the Fiesta can name at least one change that they’ve made to make their life more sustainable since the last Fiesta. This level of impact is unheard of in the sustainability industry and for it to be born from such a local area. With the diversity, quality, community spirit and level of influence that Ecoburbia’s Fiesta has, I frequently tell people that this is ‘Perth’s premier sustainability event’.
Other Ecoburbia initiatives that impact on the broader Fremantle community are the monthly “locals reskilling locals” workshop, the monthly movie nights and continuous stream of Living Smart courses, influencing more and more people to change their lives to be more sustainable. Everything that Ecoburbia puts its mind to is delivered to a world class quality. Alex Hyndman, Fremantle Council Sustainability Officer
Shani Graham and Tim Darby have facilitated two Living Smart courses for Perth's western suburbs in the past 12 months. There is nothing like leading by example to inspire others to take action. And Shani and Tim do just that. Their deep rooted passion for improving our world drives them to share their learning about sustainability with others. They take the concepts they are teaching off the page and into real life by using 3D models, sharing their stories, taking people on tours and doing hands-on sessions. True champions of community-centred living, Shani and Tim are leaders, teachers, motivators and visionaries. Nabilla Zayan, Sustainability & Waste Education Manager, Western Metropolitan Regional Council
People often ask at our globe-trotting lectures how to go about building community, after we've emphasized the importance of doing exactly that. I wanted to share the best example we've come across so far - Hulbert Street in Fremantle, Western Australia. Its success is a tribute to the two people who made it happen in the ultimate grass-roots experiment - Tim Darby and Shani Graham.
The point is that you can be the change you want to see in the world, and in doing so, you can bring many others along with you. Enthusiasm (like all emotional responses) is infectious, and fostering it can achieve a great deal without the need for large amounts of resources.
Sustainability isn't based merely on practical initiatives. It begins with community, in other words social capital and relationships of trust. During our stay on Hulbert Street we participated in a movie night and a pizza night, neither of which sound like they have anything to do with sustainability.
Movie night involves people from the street bringing a cushion and a picnic to the end of the cul-de-sac and sharing dinner together before watching a film. When we were there it was The Power of Community. Pizza night involves everyone bringing pizza fixings to the house with the largest veranda, then cooking and eating together using the communal pizza-oven-on-wheels. Lively discussions naturally follow.
Bringing people together like this allows ideas to spread and a common vision to develop. Before you know it there is food growing in peoples' front gardens and on the road verges, and people are thinking about solar panels or rain-water catchment systems. People with a common vision don't complain about the fruit trees on the verge, the guerilla garden or the bike shed on the road (the same size as a van and with a licence plate to indicate vehicle parking).
We're very much hoping to attend this year's festival in September, where thousands of people come to a small suburban street to enjoy the themselves while learning about how to gain and maintain local control over the essentials of our own existence. Communal buy-in is an essential part of the model, and understanding people is the means to achieving that. Nicole Foss, International Speaker, The Automatic Earth, Canada.
Tim and Shani have been a leading light on sustainability for Fremantle for many years. Through the Hulbert Street Fiesta, Living Smarties and now Ecoburbia - they expertly mix knowledge and practical information with kindness and good fun to create transformative action in the community. They have inspired many thousands of people - including me – undertaking exceptional and necessary work to help transition our community to a cleaner, happier and more sustainable one. Rachel Pemberton Fremantle Councillor
Shani and Tim’s work through the Painted Fish and the Hulbert St Sustainability Festival has had an incredibly catalytic effect in this community. I think we all know that cultural change at the level of the individual, household, and neighbourhood when it comes to living in balance with our environment is just as important as and sometimes more difficult than policy change at the level of government. As the local federal member of parliament, I know that by teaching, promoting, and modelling sustainability Tim and Shani have had a profound effect in changing the way people think and act, and they have played a significant role in making Fremantle a leader when it comes to environmental action and innovation. Melissa Parke MP Federal Labor Member for Fremantle