All hands on Wray!

The Wray Avenue verges were beginning to look a bit untidy with weed growth on the verges after Spring and the late rains and a little bit of litter so Dianne and Molly organised another clean up day.

It was a beautiful morning for it, with the sun shining and people happily greeting us as they walked into town. It was also great to see local, community-minded business owners helping out too – John Douglas from Brown Cow Design and Therese Pitman from Gourmet on Wray. Both of these guys are ever-present at these events and really supportive.

Molly, Diane and June have been doing regular litter pickups recently and it really shows – there was far less mess than usual. But we also felt that this vigilance had led to litter dumping, as the avenue looks tidier and people are more likely to respect it.

For me, I’m really excited that we’re taking ownership of this sliver of public space we have, caring for it and actively connecting with each other through it.

Massive respect to Dianne and Molly for their efforts on this!

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Crazy times this Friday!

There are two events on or near Wray Avenue on Friday – but don’t let the rain keep you away!

The first is Ecoburbia‘s film at Replants, which is a second attempt to show the documentary The Queen of Versailles. For those that weren’t there last month, Shani discovered the disk was cracked just before the screening and had to substitute the (very good) Clean Bin Project at late notice. She has tracked down another copy and will be showing it this week.

There is a pot luck dinner at 6pm and the film starts at 7pm. There is a fee – usually $10 to cover the venue hire and such things.

Also on Friday is Boom Box Bike’s latest Polyester Prom themed bike mashup party which is starting very near to Wray (head to the music).

With live DJs using a portable, bike-transported decks and stereo system, the idea is to move en masse by cycle (or foot or skates) from one secret location to another throughout the evening in a huge progressive dance party. Cars are outlawed of course and all locations are in public space.

When I go, I usually hang back and do a quick site clean up – which is normally not very much as personal responsibility for litter and respect for the public space is very much promoted by Boom Box Bike.

I’ll be doing this on Friday as it’s basically in my backyard and I don’t want the organisers to face any local opposition should they want to start it here again as I think its an incredible event.

Boom Box Bike ask for $10 to cover their equipment and time. They’ll pass a bucket around during the evening. Pay it – it’s well worth it!

More and more a true avenue

It’s less than a fortnight now until we start planting out more native trees on our verges.

Thanks to the amazing work of Diane and Mollie, a few of us are going to dress up our verges with the support of the City of Fremantle, in particular Michael Leer.

Diane and Mollie also coordinated the clean up a month back where we weeded and pruned and picked up litter to ready ourselves for this event and make the avenue more presentable in general.

The plant out follows on from last year’s balga tree planting, not to mention the incredible work done many years ago by other residents. I’ve seen photos from 20 years ago and the avenue is a barren, bitumenised wasteland. I can’t imagine what it would be like in our hot summers.

The present day Wray looks like a true, tree-lined avenue thanks to the hard work a decade or so ago. With more natives, hopefully we can encourage more birdlife to flock into the area and shade it out some for the hot summers.

In other happenings, the realignment of Manning and Wray has finally gone ahead. It has created a great space by Galati’s that is ripe for some creative imagination.

At a recent Living Smart course that Emma and I facilitated, a session run by the inspirational Katie Stubley (nee Dobb) shared the wonderful story of Italian verges and median strips being kitted out with bocci playing fields. The result was a culture of recreation on the street: a tradition rather than a work of place-making enthusiasts.

For what it’s worth, that’s my suggestion for that space anyway – one that I don’t imagine will clash with sight lines and provides the opportunity for interaction, fun and play on the street.

It connects with the recent heritage of the area and I’m sure we could even string some potted herbs around the outside at the same time!

I’d love to see us inviting teams from the Italian Club to play, or having some friendly inter-street competitions.

Anyway, that’s just one idea. Let me know what you think!

Wasteland screening

The good folk at Ecoburbia, Tim and Shani, are moving one of their famous film nights from Hulbert Street to Wray Avenue.

This Friday, you can see the documentary Wasteland at the Replants nursery.

The Ecoburbia email advises:

Replants owner Bruce has created a beautiful space, with outside fireplace, kitchen and a large indoor room for the screening, so let’s trial it this month and see if we like it

To pay for the venue we have to charge $5 to come to the movie, but we think this is still great value!

Bruce and Joanie have offered to cook a meal for anyone who would like to come early. The meal will be $10.

So please come at 6.30pm and share a meal (BYO or pay $10 for a vego cook up). The movie ($5 charge) will start at 7.15pm

More details about the movie below:

Filmed over nearly three years, Wasteland follows renowned artist Vik Muniz as he journeys from his home base in Brooklyn to his native Brazil and the world’s largest garbage dump, Jardim Gramacho, located in the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro. There he photographs an eclectic band of “catadores” – or self designated pickers of recyclable materials. However his collaboration with these inspiring characters as they recreate photographic images of themselves out of garbage reveals both the dignity and despair of the caradores as they begin to reimagine their lives.

6.30 vegetarian meal for $10 Movie cost $5

It’d be great to see loads of locals at this event after the March of the Lanterns Earth Hour event we staged using reclaimed and recycled materials (NB: we’re still working on that blog entry!!).

While you’re at it, if you’re on Facebook, consider liking the Ecoburbia page to stay up to date with wonderful sustainability things taking place in other areas of Fremantle.

Trashy visitors

Fast becoming a real bugbear of mine is the impact that visitors to Fremantle can have on the amenity of residents just out of apathy and lack of respect.

It has been something I’ve been reflecting on because of the way locals have sought to change our built environment in response, whereas I don’t want the environment to change, just the behaviour of those who pass through it.

Litter is a big example. This evening I was sat out the front when a Hilux rolled up at the corner of Wray Avenue and Brennan Street to drop off a bloke and a pile of trash.

Litterbugs. Dingalings do stupid things, they don't think of others at all.

Hungry Jacks, booze and a drunk mate, thanks a bunch!

As the Hilux drove away I called out to the drunk mate.

Me: Excuse me, is that yours?

Him: Nah, it’s his.

Me: Well, are you going to pick it up then?

Him: No, it’s not mine.

Me: But it’s your mate’s…

Him: Nah, he’s not my mate. He’s a tosser.

Me: Obviously. But you’re going to walk away from it and leave me to pick it up. That’s going to make you a tosser.

Him: [strangely perplexed] Why are you going to pick it up?

Me: Ummm, because I have a bit of pride in my street and environment and I don’t want your shit all over the place.

Him: Yeah, but it’s his.

Me: We’ve established that pal, but you’re standing right next to it and you could take some responsibility for it and put it in the bin.

Him: There’s no bins but.

Me: There’s one across the road. Or the way you’re headed, there’s bins in people’s front yards.

Him: It’s not bin day.

Me: Sure, but their bins are still there. Where do you think they keep them on this street?

Him: [shaking his head] Nah mate, have a good night, eh!

And he walked off drunkenly to his car and drove away.

I put all the litter in the bin in the end, not for the first time and not for the last time either I bet.

I don’t want to seem like a crotchety old man but it really does my head in that people can be so mindless, particularly when they have their consciousness drawn to their behaviour by another human being. Not that it’s at all acceptable, but it’s at least understandable that people would transgress expectations of social behaviour when there is nobody around to call them to account. But in the face of someone catching them out using the public street as a dumping ground I can’t believe people would refuse to fulfil their social contract.

I could handle it – even applaud it – if such transgressions were for something worthwhile or as a result of something a person truly believed but when the motivation for casting off all responsibility for trashing the environment around us and disrespecting people’s place is nothing but laziness and self-centredness I really get the irrits.

Isn’t it about time for some bins?

I remember when I bought my place on Wray Ave. My brother-in-law (at the time) remarked that it was that Fremantle street with all the glass beads in the pathways.

I was struck that this was an unusual bit of trivia for him to know about the street as he was from the other side of Morley. I was also struck that the street had some kind of desire to be pretty and beautiful in some kind of way.

Over the past several years I’ve become used to the glass beads, in much the same way that, when I lived in Esperance, I became used to the islands of the Recherche Archipelago as I rode to work along the Bay of Isles. Even beauty can become passe and be taken for granted. It was only the other day that I recognised the passing quaintness of the beads; while walking barefoot from my car and stubbing my toe that my eyes fell upon them again.

On the other hand, what my eye never misses is all of the litter that gets strewn along our street. The little verge en face my house is an ever-changing mound of trash. Hungry Jacks wrappers, Powerade bottles, empty beer cans, Smiths crisps packets and who knows what else all end up in the small patch of native flora that struggle to establish themselves there. I’ve sat on my porch and watched people chuck it into these bushes. When I call their attention to their littering, they ignore me or worse.

One guy, a repeat offender, thought it was okay to let his Dalmatian take a crap in this little strip. The second time that he did this I asked why he didn’t have a bag. Telling me he forgot, I offered to get him one. He rejected my offer saying it was only natural for his dog to vacate its guts on the verge if he liked.

There’s a contrast here between those that live on the street and want it kept beautiful and those for whom it is a thoroughfare and pay it’s beauty no heed. Whether it be customers from Galati’s chucking their greasy paper arancini bags in the shrubs, drunks smashing beer bottles on the path or a neighbour around the corner leaving his animal faeces wherever he pleases, I’m left in disbelief.

It’s antisocial and unacceptable on any street.

At the same time, there really aren’t many bins for pedestrians given the amount of people walking down the street. Not that I really think that is an excuse but it doesn’t help the situation. On the northside of Wray, there is one outside of Gourmet on Wray and another further down by Bentech computers. It’s not conducive to preventing litter.


I think that Wray Avenue has a special character that’s known by many across the Perth metropolitan area. It’d be nice if those who traversed it recognised this charm and the value of its limited public space.