Sunday, October 13, 2013

community gathers in celebration

Today the community came together to celebrate one year on from Reclaim Tecoma from McDonalds – Community Garden planting, a garden created in response to the VCAT decision to approve a McDonalds in Tecoma.

To mark the occasion a community lunch was held at Bonsai Bali, the place was packed, people coming together unified in their opposition to the development and bonded by strong friendships that have formed in the past year.

One year ago more than 500 people attended Reclaim Tecoma, it was a spontaneous response from the community and we've continued to see that level of response to many and varied events one year later. It doesn't surprise me, the Dandenong Ranges people are passionate about their area.

We've seen an amazing array of events over this last 12 months with an enormous amount of media attention, many of them featured on my past blogposts.

In more recent times we've seen Fatspace open with their inaugural exhibition, Junk Food - Fast Fried and Fatal, Fatspace continue their activities with an approach designed to take on key issues many of them confronting and controversial.
The opening of new business Fatspace in Tecoma was
an enormous success, the place was packed.

A benefit for the Tecoma 8 was put together in the space of one week and held at the Gemco Theatre in Emerald, a great night featuring an enormous array of talented hills musos giving their time freely to raise money for the eight community members being sued by McDonalds (note since this time damages have not been sought by McDonalds, but they are still pursuing legal costs).
A highlight of the Gemco benefit was the community singing
of Amazing Grace for the Tecoma 8 - well 6 on the night.
The youtube Les Miserable flash mob at Knox City has gone viral, sitting at over 55,000 views.

The Swing into Spring Ball gave everyone a chance to frock up 1920s style to raise money for the Tecoma 8. It was a great night, the music provided by local swing and jazz band Shirazz. The Ball gave everyone a chance to let down their hair, have a good time and enjoy new found friendships developed on the protest line.
It was terrific to be supported by Dave O'Neill and
local celeb Genevieve Morris at the Swing into Spring Ball.
Six of the Tecoma 8, got into the spirit of their fundraiser.
Some of the VCAT appeal team, nice to catch up with
community members who worked tirelessly on the VCAT appeal,
volunteering hundreds of hours in preparation.
Pictured left to right: Steve, Kate, Samantha, Nicole and Claire.

A rally was held at Federation Square, where the documentaries of Tim Smith ran for a week on the big screen, it was great to be there speaking on behalf of the community.
It was terrific to see hundreds of locals at Fed Square.
Many locals took the train to the city and marched from
Melbourne Central through to Federation Square
with much support from city onlookers.
Nick led a stirring rendition of the Les Mis song that's
become another part of the soundtrack to this campaign.
The flash mob perform at Fed Square, it was an
extraordinary and stirring part of the rally.

Comedian Dave O'Neill has been a terrific supporter and came back to perform at the Tecoma 8 fundraiser, the Dave O'Neill Spectacular, a night of stand up, trivia and a showing of TakeAway, a film he wrote with Mark O'Toole in 2003. The crowd was in stitches with many parallels between TakeAway and Tecoma.

Protestors have continued to maintain a presence on the site now for 105 days. In most recent news I can report that Yarra Ranges Council has written to McDonalds to ask what legal mechanism they are using to close the easements at the construction site.

What really strikes me a year on from Reclaim Tecoma is the resolve of people to continue to fight, it has not waned and I have no doubt they will continue in their efforts to fight this development and support the Tecoma 8.

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