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NTW  Overview

NTW is a concept for achieving a ‘neighbourhood that works’ - a place where most of us would like to live.

Neighbourhoods could be vibrant, productive, fun and sustainable places to live. Beyond what it would do for the local community this also has increasing global significance.

Dr. Ted Trainer from NSW University says that while greener industries and greener technologies will play an important role in the future, sustainability must also involve more self sufficiency and more cooperation at both household and neighbourhood levels. (1)


A New Opportunity Needed
For those of us who would like to help make our neighbourhood work, there are good reasons why we may not be inclined to get involved. Many of us are just too busy, paying the mortgage, it being by far the greatest pressure facing families. Even the pressure of paying a rent these days leaves little if any time for things like the neighbourhood. In any event, a six or twelve month lease may also feel just too insecure to make such neighbourhood commitments.

Double income family trying to meet the cost of their mortgage

So with just about everybody too busy and / or lacking sufficient security, who is left to make a neighbourhood that works?


Who Might Get Into It?
There are many thousands of Australians who, because they have no marketable role are marginalised. For the most part, these people are not totally incapacitated, it’s the fact that they may find themselves marginalised, often without housing security or a role that leads to problems.

If they had housing security, some might willingly take up the challenge of developing and applying skills for a neighbourhood that works, if by doing so they could find a meaningful role and a real sense of belonging in their communities. Fresh food from a community garden or access to a shared resource like a box trailer could also be incentives for people who need to stretch their dollars further.

Where competitive employment and welfare dependency has marginalised, an opportunity like this could be a new way forward for some, liberating that natural inclination to look for improvement once we have control over the basics.


Housing Security that Supports Participation
Core to this idea is the integration of neighbourhood participation with a person’s natural right to establish a secure home.

To provide the rental housing security for this commitment to the neighbourhood, government would be the ideal landlord … marginalisation and the betterment of neighbourhoods also being government concerns.

Needed By All
A socially and environmentally sustainable neighbourhood that works is not only needed by marginalised people looking for security and social participation, it is also a critically important neighbourhood culture that Australia is largely missing.

With rental security and some simple grass roots supports, even small groups of people could make all the difference in any neighbourhood. Even if other people in the neighbourhood have no time to participate, they would still benefit from a more engaged and vibrant neighbourhood.

Engaging people in neighbourhood activity would have very important social, environmental and economic benefits for all Australians.


Creating The Right Supports – NTW Activity Organiser
The NTW Activity Organiser is designed to support neighbourhood activity by showing how ideas can easily be developed either individually or by getting together with others, broken into simple steps and put into practice. Whether someone has just 5 minutes to share an idea, or an hour to spend on the ground, the activity organiser allows people the freedom to get involved at a time and in a way that best suits them. It provides for casual yet defined participation. (2)


Local Economy
Neighbourhood participation could provide a valid role and build new skills. For those who need such arrangements, it may even be counted as an approved Centrelink work experience or voluntary work activity.
(3) However it is important to keep in mind that free and willing participation can be supported and encouraged, but not mandated.

The potential is also there for neighbourhood participation to reach a level of productivity and accountability to warrant the payment of a small income. This type of work opportunity is likely to become very important as more and more market employment is specialised and centralised in cities.  


NTW in Public Housing
In the midst of two public housing estates located at Hope Street in the Blue Mountains just west of Sydney, neighbours are starting to use the supports devised by NTW.

A food garden, a car pool, an ornamental beautification program and some social events have all taken place.  

Some Hope St Residents in the food garden

As at Hope Street, public housing estates represent a great opportunity for NTW participation because tenants have the sort of housing security needed, as well as the incentive to improve their situation in a new more local and cooperative way. (4)

NTW seeks to translate whatever the natural energy that different neighbours have into a sustaining, vibrant and truly viable neighbourhood that works.


A NTW Model 
NTW could also progress ‘by design’, even more deliberately than through the ‘evolutionary’ process happening at Hope Street.

In new public housing and even in long-term leases which private or church landlords might grant, would-be residents and all who were interested in the NTW concept could come together beforehand to help identify and start a cooperative 

To make up the core group, ten eligible applicants for public housing could be selected for their demonstrated practical interest in the vision of Neighbourhoods that Work (NTW). In this model they would be able to rent adjacent to each other to maximise their opportunities for cooperation.

With a 'hands off' but supportive approach, they could be offered a long-term lease and become that critical mass for a neighbourhood that works. (5)

Neighbourhood participation has been shown to dramatically improve the safety, vibrancy and general well-being of all sorts of communities. If such important outcomes could be achieved with little to no extra cost and within existing government requirements, investment in secure and affordable rental housing could become much more attractive for government and private developers.


A Neighbourhood That Works
The current mortgage/ rental situation has work and lifestyle implications that don’t leave much energy for the neighbourhood. With the right sort of rental security and supports, a vibrant, productive, inclusive and sustainable neighbourhood culture could be encouraged. We could have ‘neighbourhood that works!’ 


Papers - More info on some key NTW ideas outlined above

(1) Ted Trainer - Global Crisis

(2) NTW Activity Organiser

(3) NTW Unemployed & Community Work

(4) NTW at Hope St

(5) NTW Model

NTW Papers - background material to the NTW concept


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