Living Streets Association | 2021 August

Watsoners who have been in this suburb long enough will know that many of the parks have gone through wonderful transformations. One of these parks is the Mary Kitson Park in Majura Rise, and it is all thanks to a group of silent contributors who give by example, inspiring many others to also care for the communal space. The young people of Living Streets met with these volunteers to interview them and get a behind-the-scenes story of the work that goes into the park garden creation and maintenance.

We first talked with Keith and Pam who told us that a few years ago, “the park was overgrown with a lot of weeds up to a metre high, and no one was using it.” Thus, they set to work, spending time, money, and labour to maintain the garden. Pam persistently put pressure on the government to come and mow regularly, Keith put in a row of agapanthus along the path, and together, they planted some other trees like the Kurrajong to create a good shaded area in the future. They care for all of these plants by watering with their hose, fertilising, and putting in mulch. Keith and Pam are constantly working towards their goal of creating a common for people to meet and play. “If we show by example, then when we are no longer here, we hope that other people can just continue to keep it a lovely area for people to meet and be together.” 

8 years ago, shortly after his daughter was born, Brodie planted the Peppercorn tree behind the bench that overlooks the playground. Brodie and his partner Lisa had wanted to shield the bench from the harsh, beating sun, and remove the spiky bushes that were uncomfortable to sit amongst. He dug 3 holes around the tree and filled them with sand and gravel, so that they can become pockets of water that encourage the roots to grow away from the playground. Brodie says, “I’d like to think people can… see a corner of the park and… get an inspiration to dig their own holes and plant their own plants, perpetuating the beauty in the park.”  

During the lockdowns in Canberra, Monica and Mark got to know a lot of the neighbours who took interest in the park. They realised that, “a common focus on caring for this space and making it welcoming and inviting would be a great way to keep people connected at a time when it was easy for people to be isolated from each other.” They got to work on the corner entrance of the park by clearing the space, putting down newspaper and bark to stop the weeds, and planting flowers like tulips, daffodils and daisies. Now Keith and Brodie will water the flowers, but Monica and Mark continue to look out for any weeds that pop their heads through the bark. As they say, it is a “team effort”!

Despite the dull sunless afternoon, everyone at the park was warmed by each other’s stories of giving and volunteering. The young people could see the huge impact of leading by example, and how the garden fairies of Mary Kitson park had beautified the space through their unceasing care. The older volunteers were happy to meet the lovely young people and witness their teamwork to share these community stories. Thank you to Patrick and Nat for doing an amazing job with interviewing our volunteers, and thank you to everyone else involved, who have demonstrated a wonderful example of how a friendly neighbourhood is established.