AN INNOVATIVE project never before run outside of north America will see up to 20 La Trobe University students combine their skills to reimagine the Bendigo Creek.
The project will see students immersed full-time in a project over five weeks and was developed in partnership with the City of Greater Bendigo and CityStudio Vancouver.
Similar programs had run for a number of years in Canada and had seen higher education students rewrite the way people related to their cities, CityStudio executive director Duane Elverum said.
Past projects included the Keys to the Streets program, which brought a vibrantly painted piano to public places in Vancouver, which everyone could play.
“People would just come from all over the neighbourhood and start playing this piano,” Mr Elverum said.
“One piano lead to five, then 10. Now there are 40 public pianos in Vancouver every year.”
It’s unclear yet exactly what the Bendigo group will focus on.
That topic would be confirmed once students, community members and government agencies had met to consider what they wanted to address, La Trobe course coordinator Julie Rudner said.
“We do know it will have something to do with the community and the creek, or how we imagine those to be,” she said.
“But rather than jumping to solutions, what we are trying to do is open up conversations to understand peoples’ relationship with the creek environment.”
Dr Rudner said past Vancouver projects had often transformed the way students and communities related to each other.
“Discussing ideas means people look at their world and cities differently. Because of that, they engage with their environments in ways they had not previously,” she said.
La Trobe public health promotion student Hayley Davis said she was attracted to the program because she was interested in contributing to something real in the town she lived.
Ms Davis would join students from a range of disciplines including anthropology, legal studies, planning and outdoor and environmental education. They would begin their subject in late-June.
“The most exciting bit is collaboration with council. It’s really impressive that they are working with students because it shows true community engagement,” she said.
“It’s not just rhetoric, or at least, I’m hoping it’s not. We are just community members and the council will be backing us to do this.”
Community members were invited to a free event at 7pm on Thursday at the Capital Theatre to learn how they could be involved in the project.