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Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

Lifelong learning for
a fairer Australia

People Power Pledge: One dollar a week for social solutions

Would you donate $1.00 per week to create a Community Contract Centre to teach traditional life skills to socially sensitive members of your local area?

Lyn Bell has a vision to create a community learning space for the unemployed, school leavers, homeless people, and new parents.

Lyn Bell (centre) with supporters of the People Power Pledge (l-r) Brad Ryan, Manfred Stephens and Thelma and Mick Roberts.

Lyn Bell has a vision to create a community learning space where the unemployed, school leavers, homeless people, new parents – anyone experiencing some sort of isolation or lack of direction – can come to learn, share knowledge and find a sense of community.

The idea has been percolating in Lyn’s mind for many years and last week she launched the People Power Pledge – a project which asks the community to give a little to help create a Living Learning Centre.

The concept is simple. People are asked to give $1 a week to the People Power Pledge and if enough people get on board, Lyn and a group of Aboriginal Elders, craftspeople and skilled tradesman will begin opening the Living Learning Centre two days a week at the Lismore Showground.

Courses will cover things like nutrition and cooking, Aboriginal language and culture, parenting, communication and life skills, building and mechanics, useful arts and crafts and even literacy and numeracy. She said it would be aimed at anyone aged 11 and up.

“It might include teaching people how to grow and make food in a healthy way on a budget, and the Men’s Shed around the corner has offered to work alongside us and share knowledge and space,” Lyn explained. “We will have Mick Roberts and Thelma James from GunnaWannaBe teaching Aboriginal culture and the idea is that people who attend will move onto TAFE or employment, or at the very least learn some skills and fill in their time more productively.

“Lots of people don’t fit into the boxes society want to put them in and if you don’t have a computer or a car these days, it can be very lonely. Some people are ‘socially sensitive’ and they find it hard to feel confident about themselves in relation to the world. We want people to feel they have a place in the community here and what we offer will be driven by the need that’s there.”

She said the People Power Pledge is a way for ordinary people without lots of money to give something that will, in time, build a better and more cohesive society for everyone.

“Personal development and respect will be a big part of what we do – we need to develop a stronger, more connected community. In these days of massive unemployment and the increasing incidence of suicide and despair in our rapidly-changing world, this is an opportunity to create a common wealth of knowledge,” Lyn said. “We want people to be able to take care of themselves, to move into the workforce or create a meaningful life for themselves, and find friends and connections they may not have had before.”

Thelma James said Lyn, who has volunteered with various community groups working with young people, has always had a dream to bring people together to share skills.

She said the Banyam Baigham Art Space and Elders Tent at the Lismore Show this year was a great example of Elders and young people sharing knowledge to the benefit of all.

“Lyn knows that a lot of people like us are getting older but we have so much wisdom and knowledge and skills that come with life experience,” Thelma said. “Today we don’t have a lot of role modelling and connecting, like it used to be between grandchildren and grandparents. In a lot of cultures you have an extended family and aunties and uncles play a great role in being there for the young people.

“I think what she’s really trying to do is bring elders (both Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal) and younger people together to show respect for one another and both age groups have something to offer. We all have our gifts and talents, and through coming together we can share those skills and pass them to the next generation, instead of them being lost.”

Donations to the People Power Pledge can be made at any Commonwealth Bank or Post Office into ‘People Power Pledge’, BSB 062565, Account 10672594.

Terra Sword | 15th December 2011

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