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Ryde Community Engagement for Arts Hub

Small Shift was engaged by Link Housing to provide community engagement services for their residents in Ryde, focusing on arts and cultural activities that they can actively contribute to and be a part of.

Using a visually rich engagement method, we took a soft approach to engage the residents including CALD groups and identified their interests and aspirations for the Hub. The top sights from the qualitative research was presented in a report format to Link Housing.

In an ideas workshop, a participant selected an image of a coin collection. We have many, many images and he picked one of the few that references collectables. At first, we thought he merely enjoyed looking at different coins, until he quietly said ”I will be right back with my collection, I want to show you”. ”When you collect coins you are called a numismatician”, he added. And what a collection he had, carefully stacked up in a cylindrical fabric pocket. Everyone’s passion is different. All are worth celebrating.


Green Star for New Buildings, Place Credits

Small Shift and Liveable are working with the Green Building Council of Australia to develop a Green Star rating tool for place-related credits. Taking an approach that considers both city-scale, larger complex systems; and small spaces and community interactions, we have conducted research, analysis, stakeholder engagement and provided credit recommendations that can support property developers and owners to embed place and community outcomes in a new building design and delivery in Australia.

More about Green Star Future Focus

DIO Community Mural

Small Shift was engaged by Hume Community Housing Association to provide community art facilitation services for its residents. Based on the community directions, we designed an interactive painting session through which the residents can tell their stories; and co-created a mural with the community.

Often communities’ challenges, values and aspirations come out when they are working on a project together, rather than structured engagement methods. The participants, who didn’t think of themselves as creatives in the beginning, inspired each other with techniques, ideas and stories, and created something that represents them. After we finished, we lined up the boards and stared at them in silence as if we had agreed to do so. It was an amazing moment.

The residents are creating a colourful mural by each adding in patterns and shapes that are meaningful to them.


DIO Darlinghurst

What we now call the Small Shift Model was first piloted in Darlinghurst in 2015-2016, when Julia Suh (Urban Toolbox) partnered with Rough Edges, a community café for people experiencing homelessness. The project had over 30+ participants including members of the street community and local residents who contributed to mural painting, street library set-up and gardening. The positive impact of the project was measured through before-and-after surveys, interviews, behavioural studies and social media responses. The learnings from this pilot project and Julia’s Westpac Social Change Fellowship informed the operational and strategic plans for Small Shift.

With DIO Darlinghurst as a case study, this documentary explores urban inequity that we face today, global practices that we can learn from and the purpose of our work.
Taking advantage of the project location on a main street, we invited the public to be curious and engage with the project and the community.

Funded by:

Project partners:

DIO Telopea

In 2018 Julia Suh ran a crowdfunding campaign to support the implementation of a DIO (Do-It-Ourselves) project in Telopea, a suburb with multiple disadvantages. The aim was to improve a public space, bring the community together and build a ‘culture of doing’ and create employment pathways for people with barriers to employment. The community wanted to brighten up a public space at a neighbourhood shopping centre by painting a community mural.

The City of Parramatta Council and a community leader Fiona Cahill led community engagement. Aunty Kerrie Kenton, a Dhungutti and Darug artist, created the design named Warrami (welcome) Mural and guided the community to participate in the painting. The Council is intalling new furniture and signage to complete the project.

DIO Telopea crowdfunding campaign video
Before implementation (2018)
During implementation (2019)
Community painting day
Painting process
Painting process

Funded by:

This project received support from the community and the City of Parramatta Council through the Parramatta Pitch for Good program.

Major supporters: