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Bec Stanley and Linda Tisch

Our Work / Neighbours Day Aotearoa / Bec Stanley and Linda Tisch

One day while clearing a weed called blue morning glory with three others on Auckland's North Shore, Birkenhead Point resident Linda Tisch felt anything but glorious.

"I felt quite futile," Linda says. There was so much work that needed to be done, but so few people turned up to working bees.

The time was ripe to present an idea ‒ that she’d been brewing for some years ‒ to her fellow Le Roys Bush management committee members. The idea was called: Beyond the Fence

"I said ‘why don't we ask the neighbours to get together on a Saturday, put on a barbeque and run a big weeding session?’... the whole idea was to get people out from behind their fence."

Linda door-knocked and out from behind the fences, the people came.

Fortuitous meetings

Later, the Gecko Trust heard about Beyond the Fence and offered support through its Living Neighbourhoods project and a facilitator was funded to keep momentum building.

A brainstorming session ensued and again the neighbours ventured Beyond the Fence. Enter fellow resident, botanist Bec Stanley.

Bec met Linda, and other like-minded folk connected and together created a series of events to bring their neighbourhood together.

They then had a street party involving local businesses, an autumn harvest to exchange local produce, a mid-winter Christmas, bat and bird walks and much more.

On one occasion, a local cafe helped Bec host an evening called Weeds and Wine, where people brought weeds to be identified and talked about pest plant control. This feat impressed Neighbours Day Aotearoa's Kimberley Cleland who asked Bec to write about it on the NDA website.

Contagious inspiration

The group's activities soon inspired other nearby residents to begin their own neighbourhood movements.

If it weren't for Beyond the Fence, Bec says she probably wouldn't know her neighbours at all – many of them are only home in the evenings and didn't have many opportunities to meet.

The thought of creating an event where you've got no idea what kind of people will turn up and how much catering will cost, often puts people off.

"You just have to learn not to be anxious about who turns up and you just make it BYO," Bec says.

Creating social gatherings with a purpose beyond simply socialising to include community work makes Beyond the Fence successful, Linda says.

The group are celebrating this Neighbours Day early with another autumn harvest at Linda's house.

Read about Neighbours Day Aotearoa