TASKED with re-energising and reactivating many of Western Australia's inner city suburbs and small regional towns, the Town Team Movement has selected Dowerin as the location for its next makeover.
The Town Team Movement will hold the Dowerin Do-Over on April 29-30, a part-conference and part-placemaking event that will include a day and a half of interaction along the town's main street.
Town Team Movement co-founder Jimmy Murphy said it would be a demonstration for other Wheatbelt towns that might be interested in community-led placemaking.
"We exist to try and help communities organise themselves from a volunteering perspective," Mr Murphy said.
"It's about trying to build community capacity in order to improve main streets, town centres, encourage more visitors and create nicer, more inviting towns."
Mr Murphy said the biggest barriers to community action in regional towns was access to funds, knowledge and volunteers so they can work more efficiently with their local governments.
"What seems to be happening with a few of these Wheatbelt towns is that the Royalties for Regions funds have been great for creating shiny new sport facilities and club rooms, but it seems to be taking away from their traditional main streets," he said.
"A lot of the main streets were already struggling due to things like online retail and declining populations and those things have then been compounded by the impact of COVID-19.
"We started doing bits and pieces with a few different shires in the Wheatbelt a couple of years ago including Bruce Rock, Wickepin and we have a wonderful partnership with the Wheatbelt Business Network as well.
"They said Dowerin could probably do with an event like ours so we decided to lend the town a hand."
The conference section of the Dowerin Do-Over will include presentations from the North Midlands Project that will outline how they are using community-based art to help stimulate citizenship and create connected communities in the Mid West, as well as tourism.
Stakeholder engagement officer Tabetha Beggs who will discuss how regional towns can take advantage of regional tourism in a post-COVID world and hold a workshop on 'How to find your towns tourism identity'.
Design Jam (a Melbourne-based placemaking consultancy) director Valli Morphett will also hold a virtual conference about some of the initiatives the company has run in Victoria.
The event will commence on Thursday, April 29 with a comedy night at the Dowerin Community Club and conclude with a street party the next evening.
Attendees also have the option to purchase a glamping package for one or two nights.
Mr Murphy said the event had already drawn a lot of interest with tickets being purchased by local community members, community resource centres, members of local shires and representatives from the State's development commissions and various State government departments.
"We estimate that we will have about 150 people attend, which we are pretty pleased with for our first crack out in the Wheatbelt," Mr Murphy said.
Sponsored by the North Eastern Wheatbelt Regional Organisation of Councils (NEWROC), RAC, Shire of Dowerin, Wheatbelt Business Network (WBN) and Edith Cowan University, he said the Town Team Movement heavily relied on its sponsors to hold its events.
Shire of Dowerin chief officer Rebecca McCall said the organisation had been collaborating with Town Team Movement, having recently held two workshops with the local community to come up with a few projects to do as part of the Dowerin Do-Over.
"My hope is that this event is going to help regenerate and reactivate our main street and re-energise our local businesses and local community," Ms McCall said.
"Dowerin is like so many other small communities throughout the Wheatbelt that are suffering from local burnout.
"Any community group that you belong to in a small community town - quite often you end up being the secretary or the treasurer or have some administrative role, but with this event you participate on the day and then you get to go home and don't have to do anything further."
NEWROC (North Eastern Wheatbelt Regional Organisation of Councils) chairwoman Jannah Stratford said the Dowerin Do-Over was an opportunity for cross community collaboration, while WBN and NEWROC executive Caroline Robinson said the event would be an opportunity for other towns to see what could be achieved by community led activation.
"It will have an immediate benefit for Dowerin, but the longer term perspective from NEWROC and WBN is that we will be able to learn from what they do and that will assist us with new ideas to activate our other town centres throughout the Wheatbelt," Ms Robinson said.
"The event is basically putting a whole heap of volunteers into Dowerin and getting stuff done.
"The WBN are going to help activate a wall on the Dowerin CRC and other community resource centres have also had input into the day and will hold some activities of their own."
- More information" https://events.humanitix.com/ dowerin-do-over-conference or townteammovement.com/dowerin -conference-2021/