There has never been a more important time to act local
This is Angela and Simon Bendall.
They own Get Fixed Bicycle Café. “We started our business six years ago, out of our garage fixing bikes for our neighbours. We always hoped we’d be able to grow into a location that could bring people together and serve our community.” Simon said.
Their vision was realised when an opportunity became available in January 2018 on the Porirua waterfront. “The Council approached us because they had this amazing opportunity to activate a place on the waterfront. It needed some tender, love and care but had so much potential.” Angela said. Porirua City Council partnered with over 100 young people to clean the area and replant it to get it ready for businesses to locate there. They did a request for proposals for three new businesses to operate on the park site for a 2-3 year period in shipping containers. Get Fixed was successful and the Harbour's edge pop up site soon became a community favourite.
“Since we started we have launched a ton of initiatives. The first thing we wanted to do was create a place people wanted to spend time so we planned free live music events and invited the community to join us. We have now become one of the best attended weekend hang outs in the city.” Angela said.
“For us it wasn’t enough to just have a place people wanted to spend time, we wanted to share our way of life. We are both really passionate about cycling, sustainability and promoting zero waste.” Simon said.
“We never realised how much waste a café could produce. Through being confronted with this challenge, we changed the way we operated to include huge waste reduction strategies and even developed a refillng station in collaboration with the ecostore so that our community could have an option to avoid buying more single use plastic.” Angela said.
COVID-19 has provided new challenges for the couple they could never have foreseen. “This pandemic has really put things in perspective. Though things feel a bit uncertain with the business at the moment, we feel so grateful to be in our community and be in a position to help others.” Angela said.
“It has really mobilised us to do what we can to help.” Simon said. They have recently launched a new community page called Self Isolation Support – Porirua to coordinate volunteers who are keen and able to provide support to those in the community who might struggle having to self-isolate or are particularly vulnerable as the community responds to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Members have all shared ways they can serve each other. “Never has their been a more important time to see resilience like this in the community. Council’s can’t do it on their own and seeing these businesses take the lead is really incredible.” Abbie McKoy from Porirua City Council said.
In these times of uncertainty this model is a great way communities can help each other. If you’re keen to incrementally create a community group like this, here are the steps to get there.
1.) Create a private community page on Facebook, or another social media platform, and invite people in your local community to be part of it.
2.) Start a thread to ask people to share what they can do to help others and what help they may be seeking in the times ahead. (Example – if you drive and your neighbour doesn’t maybe they can order their groceries online and you can collect them OR if you have a lemon tree with way more lemons than you can eat you could share some with your street).
3.) Realise that all of us are on our own emotional journey of what this all means and use the group as a way to support and encourage each other.
4.) Have your friends invite their friends to grow it and increase your ability to help each other.
5.) These communities are a life line in these times of isolation. Share tips to help the time go by and enjoy the moments that we have in this new life format – it won’t stay like this forever so let’s try to enjoy it together!