When I hear people from north-west Tasmania talk about growing up in and around Burnie, they often speak about the old paper mill perched at the eastern entrance to Burnie. A story often shared is how in the 80s and 90s at the entrance of the city there were signs declaring the number of days free of industrial accidents and the air, land and ocean landscapes were tainted with pollutants.
While this is no longer the case with the area now better known for its pristine coastline and green hinterland, for many people, their personal and collective narrative of Burnie has been deeply shaped by experiences like this. Many chose to leave to seek different experiences – to create a new personal narrative. My family included.
For more than ten years, leaders in Burnie have been creating different narratives through various cultural and economic initiatives. One of which has been led by what has become known as the Collective Impact initiative, Burnie Works. In this newsletter we feature a story from Burnie Works about the community knowledge collectors – a new initiative that equips people who live in Burnie with the skills, recognition and confidence to collect stories that would otherwise be collected by a researcher or consultant for evaluation and reporting. This is powerful because we know that who creates and holds the data is key to the narrative that is formed.
What this story also highlights is that the way change happens is as important as the outcome itself. As a learning partner of Burnie Works for many years, we have witnessed the leadership of those involved and how they deeply understand and practice this. That the change is not always ‘out there’, it is deeply connected to our own mindsets and actions as leaders.
We – along with Burnie Works and others – are paying attention to what helps this type of leadership to be amplified so that more of this change is possible. This, like many other stories in the communities we partner with, is both a story about changing power and narratives in Burnie; and a story that helps us understand more about how place-based change happens.
Anna Powell, CEOBack to all