We first began presenting Living Smart in 2008, and have just completed our 45th course, making us the most experienced facilitators in Australia. We have run courses in Fremantle, Canning, Rockingham, West Leederville, Melville, Byford, Peppermint Grove, Shenton Park, South Perth, Fremantle Hospital . . . . the list goes on. We provide a very interactive, hands on and practical course that encourages real sustainable lifestyle change. Each of our courses begins with an evaluation of participant needs and expectations, and we then design the course around these, with a strong emphasis on behaviour change. Often expertise within the group is utilized to develop the course program, and develop community.
Course components include cooperative learning opportunities, group activities, demonstrations, hands on activities, short talks, guest presentations, outings and appropriate movies. We send weekly emails provide midweek motivation, extra ideas, and additional information.
Courses generally run over 7 weeks, with weekly sessions running for two and a half hours. We include a hands on gardening day where participants create a raised garden bed at a local community centre or a participant’s home. We also organise one or more relevant outings and this, coupled with a follow up celebration session means each course usually runs over 10 sessions. Relevant outings could include a visit to a Resource Recovery Centre, a sustainable home, community garden or sustainable event.
Living Smart is a behaviour change program, so participants are presented with practical examples of good goal setting processes. There are opportunities for achievements to be shared and recognised each week, and there is time in each session for the setting of goals.
Evaluating Success Each of our Living Smart courses are carefully evaluated during and after the course to measure both participant satisfaction and changes they made. Evaluation processes can also be catered to individual host needs. All the courses we have run have been highly regarded by participants. Qualitative feedback about peoples’ favourite aspects of the course include the enthusiasm and expertise of the presenters, the interactive nature of the sessions, the encouragement to make changes, and the sense of community that develops through meeting other like minded people. The most common negative comment about our courses is that people did not want them to end!
At the end of the course participants are asked to make a brief comment on their experience, using the words Living Smart . . . as a prompt. Below is a sample of comments from a recent course run in Beaconsfield.
Changes participants typically make include reducing household waste, installing photovoltaics and rainwater collection systems, major reductions in household water and power use, a reduction in the use of household chemicals, the adoption of more sustainable transport options and the establishment of home veggie gardens.
We encourage participants to engage in an ongoing sustainable journey and for this reason at the end of the course participants complete a “letter to themselves”. This letter is returned to them in six months’ time. It has been our experience that often the most significant changes are made some time after the course has finished. Below are two typical responses:
Participating in the LS course helped me to get back on track to a more sustainable lifestyle. Since doing the course we have made 2 raised garden beds and planted the first of many crops. This is but the first step. We are planning for the next beds to go in. Following this we are embarking on a trip of self sufficiency with home and personal cleaning products the next on the hit list. We are looking into water harvesting and how best we can incorporate this into our current home. Plenty more to do – watch this space!
We have implemented changes. We walk or ride our daughter to school almost every day. I use the car almost 50% less, as I walk ride combine trips and use the train. We have built garden beds to grow veggies and joined a club to get seeds. I want to get a group going in Rockingham for support and have met with a local couple who are along the sustainable path. As an artist I have changed my practice to comment on sustainable issues and work more sustainably.
Testimonials The following statements represent the views of two recent local councils who have hired us to present Living Smart courses.
I have hired T&S to run courses and as guest speakers. They are well organised, authentic and very experienced with Living Smart and effective facilitation in general. Their courses generate an enthusiastic response for ongoing behaviour change. I'd highly recommend them. Stephanie Jennings – former Southern Metropolitan Regional Council and Living Smart Founder.
The Living Smart Course facilitated by Shani Graham and Tim Darby is fantastic! By providing a detailed, interactive and tailored course with a topic that varies weekly, they ensure that participants remain engaged and active in their goals to achieve a more sustainable lifestyle. The Living Smart journey is enhanced by Shani's background in education paired with Tim's artistic and building skills, ensuring that they speak from practical experience and deliver in a format that targets a varying audience. Piney Lakes Environmental Education Centre, in the City of Melville, strongly values the organisation and positivity that Tim and Shani put into their courses. Their talent is evident in the course attendance and retention, and also in the formation of a Melville Living Smarties group following the completion of the course. As a testament to these courses, we consistently receive queries in regards to them, and as such, book to capacity each time. Penelope Musgrove Piney Lakes Environmental Education Centre, City of Melville.
Living Smart Facilitator Training. We have also been involved in the training of Living Smart facilitators for the past four years, developing a highly regarded two and three day training course. We have presented this course 25 times over the last three years, in metropolitan Perth, regionally and interstate. We are also actively involved in the Living Smart Facilitators’ Network, and share resources and ideas on line as well as acting as mentors to other Living Smart facilitators. We are often asked to present information sessions about Living Smart to community groups, universities and government departments. Shani has acted as the facilitator representative on the Be Living Smart Board, and was appointed a life member of Be Living Smart in 2013.
Post Course Support. Because we first introduced Living Smart to our local community, our lives and street provide a perfect example for participants. After our course we wanted to stay in touch with our fellow participants, so we established the Freo Living Smarties and Friends group in 2009. This group ensures participants continue to learn from each other, with topics covered ranging from bee keeping to bread making, cargo bikes to chooks. There is a strong emphasis on speakers who share the changes they have made, rather than pure information sessions. Hearing about this group has motivated other Living Smart participants, and Living Smartie Groups are now self organising in Canning, Fremantle and Melville following courses presented by Tim and Shani.
For more information about Living Smart check out The Living Smart website