Norlane Community Initiatives was established in January 2018 by Simon and Kaylene Reeves.
The registered charitable organisation came on the back of another community group Urban Seed, which had been operating in Norlane for the past 15 years. The husband and wife team had been working in that organisation for about six and a half years before it closed.
“Urban Seed finished up and we wanted to make sure the work continued so we started Norlane Community Initiatives,” Mr Reeves said.
Norlane Community Initiatives aims to care for people and place through programs and initiatives that seek to address specific community needs around social isolation, supporting families, food security, activating local leadership, health and well-being.
“We live in the local neighbourhood of Norlane so this is our home, the place we raise our children and love and we want to see it thrive and flourish,” he said.
“We also have a passion for working in community development and have experience in that area. We believe we have the skill set and the passion to be able to contribute in that way towards our local neighbourhood.”
The organisation’s mission is to cultivate and regenerate community and place in Norlane.
“Norlane Community Initiatives is a placed based community-led organisation. We take a whole of neighbourhood approach to our work. We draw a circle of care around our neighbourhood and commit to the health and well-being of everyone in that circle,” Mr Reeves said.
“Our vision is to see Norlane become a thriving and inclusive, sustainable and thriving place for people to live.”
The organisation does this in practical ways by promoting every day initiatives within walking distance of people’s homes, which centre round “micro activities” such as cooking and growing, sewing and baking.
“These activities are accessible to people and they can jump in and participate in whether it is for half an hour or two hours. Participating contributes to people’s own needs and livelihoods but also contributes to the neighbourhood as well.”
Norlane Community Initiatives run a number of food-based programs such as their neighbourhood meal which is held each Monday night at their Spruhan Ave Neighbourhood Hub. The dinner attracts as many as 80 locals and is one of their most-loved community activities.
Members of the community come together on a Monday afternoon to shop, cook and prepare for the meal.
The organisation also has an Urban Farm called The Farm Next Door. This is a place for growing and selling produce and hosting community workshops and celebrations. There is also the Aviary Café, a low-cost, volunteer run café.
Mr Reeves said they had seen an amazing community form on the back of these initiatives.
“We have two or three hundred people who come through our three sites each month. These people are developing friendships outside of these places as well. When people are participating it is increasing their self-esteem and people are finding their way back into employment and training opportunities and feeling more valued.”
Norlane Community Initiatives held a fundraising dinner on July 31, which raised $15,000 for the charity.
“For an organisation that is only 18 months old it was a huge success,” Mr Reeves said.
Money raised from the night will support their initiatives and help to engage staff members with community development experience.
Bisinella Developments’s Director Richard Bisinella attended the fundraiser and provided a financial contribution to the evening’s appeal to help “empower our neighbourhood”.
Mr Reeves said Bisinella’s “practical support and development expertise has also enabled us to proceed with confidence towards the redevelopment of our neighbourhood hub”.
“The support we have received from Bisinella has been of tremendous encouragement to our organisation and its participants in Norlane.”
Mr Reeves said the support of local businesses was “tremendously important”.
“We see Geelong as one big community and everyone has a part to play to contribute to that community. People cheering you on from the outside and supporting you is brilliant.”
Mr Reeves said the wider Geelong community could support Norlane Community Initiatives in a number of ways. This includes providing food donations for their food donations, coming along to their local café, buying local produce from The Farm Next Door on a Saturday morning or attending the community dinners.
For more information on how you can contribute to Norlane Community Initiatives visit www.norlaneci.org.au