I was thrilled that the winners were announced last week for the Victoria Premier’s Sustainability Awards – and local charity, Eureka Mums (with sister organisations St Kilda Mums and Geelong Mums) were awarded both the Community Award and the top gong with the Premier’s Recognition Award!
The Premier’s Sustainability Awards have been run by Sustainability Victoria since 2007, rewarding and recognising those who implement environmentally-sustainable measures to better manage waste, water and energy consumption. You can check out the full list of 2015 winners at http://sustainabilityawards.vic.gov.au/2015-finalists. and read an Eco News article about it here.
I was extra proud of this win, as I helped out Eureka Mums with some pro-bono architectural services earlier this year when they moved into their new warehouse. If you haven’t heard of them, they are a fabulous crew of volunteer women, who arrange collection of, store, organise and re-house pre-loved babies’ and children’s gear to those in need. St Kilda Mums was where it all started in 2009 with Geelong Mums and Eureka mums to follow soon after. The founder of ‘Eureka Mums’ Ballarat’s Erin Malone and her dedicated team are an inspiration.
When their fundraising manager, Di Campbell contacted me to seek some pro-bono architectural services to help them to relocate to a new warehouse space, I was honoured to be asked as I identified strongly with their ethos and philosophy.
“We believe that by reusing and recycling much-loved babies’ and children’s gear, we not only share the joy of parenthood with each other, but we save the earth’s precious resources too.” – Eureka Mums
They are committed to ‘triple-bottom-line’ sustainability:
Environmental Sustainability: Reducing waste by recycling and re-using pre-loved goods that would often end up in landfill
Social Sustainability: Helping mums, dads, and carers (via caseworkers) with some of the basic means to help care for their young children, so they don’t need to have added stress in their circumstances, and can focus on enjoying parenthood
Economic Sustainability: Providing these items at no cost to those who need it most
Previously they were operating out of a garage which was absolutely overflowing with prams, cots, clothes, toys, car-seats, high chairs, nappies, books and more! They were very excited about the prospect of becoming more organised and efficient with a large warehouse, but they were also overwhelmed by the size of the space and the mammoth task of moving in and how the new space would work for them. I loved being able to help them plan out the best way to use the internal space and provided plans and 3D images that helped them visualise the space.
They have distinct patterns to how they operate with goods in and out, where and how they get sorted by the volunteers, and storage to ensure ‘a place fore everything and everything in its place’. There is a ‘public’ interface for when donations are dropped off and when the caseworkers come for collection, and then a more ‘private’ zone where the behind-the-scenes sorting and storage occurs. They also have a ‘tinkering’ area where old prams and mended, which would otherwise end up as hard rubbish in our throwaway society. Most of the volunteers are also mums with young children who come in to work a shift to sort out the donated goods, so it was essential to have a safe, supervised space for them to play.
Most of their fit-out for the warehouse including shelving and tables were recycled or donated. The existing kitchenette was relocated from the office to a central ‘tea-room’ area, all with the help of some great local tradies who donated their time. They planned to use reclaimed carpet tiles for the flooring, but were unsure of how many they could source, so I helped them design a layout they meant they could be flexible with the arrangement depending on the colour-batches they could get, while still designating the seperate working zones.
We also discussed how their work place could be more sustainable in terms of healthy indoor air quality – by introducing pot-plants and being aware of minimising exposure to toxins such as Volatile Organic Compounds which are often present in carpets and also the glues used to lay carpet tiles – which are not great to breathe in – especially with young children around. We also looked at incorporating some moveable screens for when privacy was required, and also the idea of a large “shower-screen” type wind break at the entrance when the roller door is opened for deliveries/pick-ups during inclement weather…perhaps adorned with some local art/craft to help brighten the place up. They are making more improvements there all the time; I look forward to watching their progress.
The rainwater tank now fills their kettle, and Di Campbell tells me that next on their wishlist is some solar panels for the roof so they can go off-grid for their (minimal) electricity needs in the future – once they have sourced some funding. To help cover the $17,000 annual operational costs, the group is currently setting up a pledge fund.
If you want to help them out, here’s three ways:
– Donate good quality pre-loved baby’s or children’s gear
– Attend their fundraising trivia night on Friday November 20th at the Ballarat Greyhound Racing Club from 6.30pm. Tickets are $20, or $200 for a table of 10. To book a ticket or for more information visit www.eurekamums.org
– Donate a prize for their auction for the trivia night
I’ve donated a 90 minute Architectural Consultation/Site Review worth $360, so if you want to bid on that, get on down to their trivia night for your chance to be a winner too!
Have you heard of Eureka Mums before? Or did you know about the Premier’s Sustainability Awards? I would love to hear from you in the comments below!
Talina Edwards Architecture is a Ballarat-based studio, with a passion for sustainable design, green buildings and healthy homes. Click here to ensure you won’t miss out on our news!