Community in the Outdoors

Dr Jen George, whose company Comcorp is working pro bono to drive plans for a community garden at St Andrew’s Cathedral (above), believes such spaces are crucial for church outreach now and into the future.

She points to data released last year by McCrindle Research that shows most Australians choose to find community in the great outdoors.

“Fifty-three per cent of Australians consider natural, outdoor gathering spaces as the primary hub for community interaction,” she says. “In the survey, the local neighbourhood also rated highly after the household for social connections.”

Choosing a place in the outdoors trumped the local pub or club (45 per cent), community centre (43 per cent) and school (33 per cent) as the best place to seek community, while only 29 per cent looked to church first.

The researchers noted that, since lockdowns associated with the COVID-19 pandemic,“the renewed recognition of local community spaces and their enduring significance has become even more apparent”. Adds Dr George:

“Here is a wonderful opportunity for the Christian community to consider how and where we can connect with the broader community in meaningful and relaxed ways. There is also much research on the benefits of being in green space [for] our wellbeing”.

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