To build stronger connections between residents in Scullin (first) and across Belconnen (next).
Establish a vibrant community hub (a Town Square of sorts) based around the Scullin shopping precinct.
We are creative, collaborative and local.
We are transparent, keen to help others succeed, and we work to create change that sticks.
We are proactive, positive and strategic: we do a lot, but we don’t do everything. We often move fast, but we like to do things well.
We are welcoming. There is a way everyone can contribute.
We are open to change and new opportunities; we love a good experiment!
In October 2018, a group of members of the Scullin community developed a plan
to revive the Scullin shops and create an attractive and self-sustaining community space for the suburb’s 2900 residents. Its objective was to build community and transform the vibe of the struggling local shops.
The approach taken by the Scullin Community Group (SCG) included:
- Develop a sustainable structure to support and sustain the initiative;
- Secure seed funding to lease a space to run a Community Entrepreneurship Hub for the remainder of 2019; and
- With this space, support a range of micro projects and activities to achieve the following:
- Encourage and support entrepreneurial ideas and micro businesses or projects across Scullin and Belconnen;
- Drive foot traffic to the Scullin shops, making the shops more attractive for other businesses to take up some of the other empty spaces over time. While micro projects within the space would aim to either make profit or support their own goals of increasing community engagement, the Community Entrepreneurship Hub would be run as a not for profit venture, with any profit going back into the not for profit Scullin Community Group’s work to further meet its aim of improving community engagement.
Early wins include a large rainforest mural by a well known Canberra artist, a community noticeboard and attracting a coffee cart to the shops’ courtyard. In May 2019 the group opened the Scullin Traders: a community entrepreneurship hub fit out and run entirely by volunteers. The project was supported by a $5000 donation from the ACT Chief Minister’s fund.
Other achievements since the October 2018 launch include:
- Working together to run the Scullin Traders so milk, bread and vegetables are available locally;
- Attracting Café Bolivar to the shops (coffee!);
- Revitalising the shops’ courtyard with
- a community noticeboard,
- rainforest art mural, and
- raised garden beds
- A number of street libraries across Scullin;
- Recently awarded $11,500 in ACT government grants to continue its work revitalising the shops and connecting Scullin residents;
- Regular events suggested run by members include – social soccer (weekly), games nights (fortnightly), coffee and chat (weekly), book clubs (monthly) and
- Over 420 residents in an active Facebook group.
The following Canberra businesses are just some of our current micro traders:
- Café Bolivar – Comfy couches so customers of the coffee trailer in the shops courtyard can enjoy their beans inside.
- Frith Street – Jewellery, eco-friendly rugs and creative workshops from local creative Ruby Barnett.
- Planted – Gorgeous indoor plants from the duo behind Canberra’s online nursery.
- Conscious Body Co – Homemade soaps and lip balms filled with creativity and love.
- Milk, bread, local eggs and cold drinks – sold by the ScullinCommunity Group and a partnership with Choku Bai Jo, the farmer’s outlet.
- Weekly produce boxes from Choku Bai Jo – order online through scullintraders.com and pickup in store. We are the only place in Canberra to get their boxes.
- Creative workshops – everything from cupcake decorating to eco rug crocheting from skilled Scullin residents, micro traders and otherCanberra creative.
- Rotating art exhibitions – From local Canberra artists.
One of the keys to the Scullin Community Group’s success so far is its ability to build and nurture relationships across the community.
Co-Founder and President Sue White says: “Before Rachel and I set up the group, we engaged for three months with every single group or individual we could find who had run projects in our suburb, or who had an interest in it. We talked to the school P&C, to people who’d run events here a few years ago, met with Belconnen Community Services and school leadership, and listened intently. Through that we realised we needed one group focused on community building and changing the shops and another – Scullin Neighbourhood Watch – to deal with safety-related issues. There is crossover of course, and both work together but it allows us to keep really focused on what each wants to do, and to find volunteers passionate about different issues,”.
The other strength of the group is leading with positivity.
“Rachel and I have been very clear from the beginning that this is a project about solutions,” says Sue. “We always focus on creative solutions rather than negativity, and while our very active Facebook community needs almost no moderation, we step in if we think things are getting negative. We also aim to empower people to take action themselves: if someone suggests a games night, we say “Brilliant: want to run it?” – and they do,”.
The result is that Scullin residents are taking ownership and helping co-produce the direction of the project.
Customers also play a role.
“In the Scullin Traders, many of our new ideas come from shop volunteers or customers. We now sell Keep Cups, have a wheelbarrow for donated ‘free swap’ produce from people’s gardens, sell newspapers, and support local charities by becoming a drop off point for things like food collections. It’s evolving all the time,” [Sue White].
 Sue White “SCG Bank of Ideas”
The future is coming fast in Scullin. The Scullin Community Group’s efforts have already changed the suburb for many, with a number of residents saying that their experience of living in Scullin has made them want to stay living here.
As the group moves out of “start up” phase, it’s consolidating its efforts, extending its work on outreach so that all Scullin residents know about the opportunities to connect, and taking its work improving the Scullin shops to the next level. We hope to make the shops a vibrant hub not just for Scullin residents, but for residents across Belconnen.
We aim to be known as a suburb that is creative, welcoming, collaborative and which leads positive change. We share our success, we are transparent,
Whilst there are no hard and fast plans for the future, the underlying driver is to establish a vibrant Community Hub for Scullin and surrounding residents. It is to be run by local people who freely give up their time to encourage and nurture involvement by residents of Scullin.
For example, the following are being encouraged or are in progress:
- Social soccer every week
- Games nights – every fortnight
- Bookclubs (new – one kid friendly, one in evenings)
- Coffee and a chat (most Fridays 10am at Scullin Traders)
- More activities added all the time.