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Residents keen to protect Valentine… and the planet


Gayle Russell has a vision for Valentine, so too does Lindy Williams.

It centres on creating an environmentally-friendly community in the picturesque Lake Macquarie suburb – and then reducing our ecological footprint on a national level, as well.

The members of the Valentine Sustainable Neighbourhood Group (VSNG) are not only worried about their future, but also that of the younger generation if nothing is done about the issue soon.

Now, the local organisation’s looking to take matters into its own hands, starting with a Community Gathering at the Progress Association Hall, Allambee Place, on Tuesday 23 November from 6pm.

“I’m concerned about what we’re facing [in years to come] in relation to climate change and emissions reductions,” Ms Russell said.

“It’s difficult to really fathom what we can individually, or collectively, do that can help make a difference.

“We live in a beautiful area – and we all wish for what we have isn’t compromised.

“Often it is hard to know what the best decisions is, in regards to what we choose to do.

“It may be something as simple as changing our behaviours.

“But, I believe people can feel quite lost in the process and challenged in knowing where to start.

“We’re hoping to get attendees on the night to tell us what they care about.

“We genuinely want to hear from them.

“Then, jointly, we can develop some workshops or presentations that’ll assist everyone; that is, a bottom-up approach.”

Ms Russell, who lays claim to a background in sustainability, said it was imperative to take that “first step”.

“Since moving here, it’s become incredibly important to me,” she told the Newcastle Weekly.

“We need to safeguard what we’ve got.

“The residents in Valentine love the lake.

“So, what can we do – as a group – to protect it?

“That’s a great starting point.

“The aim of the gathering is to hear from locals on areas of interest or need that might be helpful for them.

“Things they may want to know more about could include solar options, more sustainable food choices, eco-friendly transport possibilities, energy efficiency at home, more diversity in your garden or habitat protection.

“We’re hoping to inspire you, and to help you make better decisions that benefit all you care about: your life, your children, your grandchildren and this lovely planet we call home. 

“Afterwards, based on the information, the VSNG will coordinate further activities, which will be offered to residents later in the year.”

The Valentine Sustainable Neighbourhood Group first mooted the concept back in 2010; and compiled an action plan.

So, it’s a subject close to the locals’ hearts.

“We’re passionate about caring for the environment and strengthening our ‘village’ community,” Ms Williams said.

“We’re keen to maintain the health of our lake, creeks and bushland.”

Fittingly, the 23 November get-together, originally scheduled for August and to be facilitated by the VSNG team, also has the backing of Lake Macquarie City Council.

“Council’s been very supportive; I’m quite impressed,” Ms Russell said.

“I think they’re grateful to see people actually doing something, educating and informing others.

“We live in a gorgeous environment [here] with a spectacular saltwater lake – the largest in the Southern Hemisphere.

“Let us all play a vital role to keep it lovely.

“Let’s keep our waterways in as pristine condition as possible, too.

“Take the steps that’ll help maintain our unique natural surroundings.

“Doing this will ultimately benefit us all.”

Registration is essential, so enrol now at [email protected]

Alternatively, if you’d like to provide feedback, you can do so via a Google survey.

Fruit and crackers, and a hot cuppa, will be provided for all attendees on the night.

For further information on the VSNG, go to Facebook and search for Valentine Sustainable Neighbourhood Group or phone 0428 599 236.

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