There's something very homely about Glen Eden. There's lots of greenery, and we're on the cusp of the Waitakeres so our backdrop is beautiful scenery. We've been here for two and a bit years, [we being wife Kristy and baby Savana] and we're getting to know the community a lot better.
We have most of the amenities we need right here: hardware, greengrocers, supermarket. We've got sports facilities and lots of parks. Ceramco Park is about three blocks from us and has a community building where you can hold events, and a pretty decent-sized playground with a big park attached. There are jungle gyms, and a little skate bowl, but they could do with a bigger one. The first Glen Eden Christmas Carnival was held there. It was a huge hit, and the local council paid for everything, so all the rides were free and there were bands and rides and stalls.
I use the train station regularly. The station is a nice little restored building, and nearby Waikumete Cemetery is the biggest cemetery in New Zealand. Special train services used to run on Sundays, taking caskets into the cemetery from town. There used to be a special platform for the caskets, although it's all one thing now. That would have been a sight back in the days of steam.
We have some great walks and lovely streams round here. Waikumete Stream changes its name along its route and goes all the way to Titirangi, and there's a wonderful wetland at the cusp of Glen Eden and Titirangi. There's a walk that goes a couple of blocks to the stream and you can follow the stream to the town centre.
My wife's mother is the theatre manager at the Glen Eden Playhouse and we see a lot of things there. It has a great vibe, the community spirit it still alive. Two or three times a year they create these great plays, and it's all voluntary; there's something very special about that.
Neighbours' Day, which is a New Zealand-wide initiative, has been well promoted in Glen Eden and we're involved. We all have interesting people living next to us, yet often we don't connect. People will save for months to travel the world yet they won't know the Indonesians or Africans who live next to them. It's all about neighbours getting together.
Kristy and I are also a part of Transition Towns, which is about living sustainably and creating communities, thinking global and acting local. We get about 15 people at our monthly meetings and deal with local food production, which means fewer food miles. We consider resource consumption and promote ideas for walkways, cycleways and public transport. We have strategies for the restoration of local environmental areas, parks and streams. For example, we'll go down to the stream and plant natives. Transition Towns promoted a public orchard on Lucinda Place, there are about 15 trees now. A bit of fruit is popping up but we won't get our first proper harvest for a couple of years. There's actually a Google map service that pinpoints the public access fruit trees in the city. The orchard started through Twin Streams, which is a group that's helping restore the waters and keep them clean. There's some public land next to the streams and, at the last working bee, there were 30 people digging, weeding and mulching.
The other thing we're involved with is a thing called "Glen Eden: Stories for our Future". We're hoping to produce a book and some posters, and provide an online facility, and I'm spearheading a DVD. It's all about regular people telling their stories about Glen Eden, what they like about it, what they hope for future and its history. This project is part of a group run by Rebecca Harrington called Greater Glen Eden, which is a complex network thing with Lifewise. It was an idea Rebecca and a few people came up with because there were a lot of services in Glen Eden that were separated from each other, and she realised that was silly when half the time people just needed to talk to their neighbours. She set up GGE, to foster connectedness and this idea came about from that, to celebrate people, community and people sharing their stories.
Glen Eden is like a little club, a really cosy club and we're looking forward to being here for a long time.
Davian's favourite community initiative
Transition Towns: transitiontowns.org.nz
Glen Eden Stories for our Future: Facebook.com/GlenEdenStories
Neighbours' Day Aotearoa is being celebrated all over New Zealand this weekend, with the aim of turning strangers into neighbours and streets into neighbourhoods. neighboursday.org.nz