All the latest news and events at the Port Phillip EcoCentre. Local Action = Global Future!
Port Phillip EcoCentre logo.   EcoCentre News September 2016

In this Issue: Membership Matters / How April Became a Member / Love for the Local / Veg Out / EcoCentre Events / Affiliate Events / Volunteer Opportunities / Other Events
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Membership Matters: Your Voice Counts!
Did you know that our newsletter has 16 times more subscribers than the EcoCentre has members? As our reader, we know you value sustainability and community wellbeing, so EcoCentre membership is a perfect fit. Work with us as we advocate for EcoChange!

Membership matters:
Our members strengthen our community voice.
They encourage funding partners to support our school and community education, our work protecting Port Phillip Bay, projects with the Youth Wildlife Ambassador, and other award-winning initiatives we run with over 10,000 diverse participants per year.

With your voice joined with ours we can make far-reaching impacts on our environment. Together we can take local action for a global future.
Join our EcoCentre family.

Last year was a very successful year for the EcoCentre: we were finalists in 7 and winners in 4 Victorian and National environmental awards (we're so proud!), including our Youth Wildlife Ambassador Gio Fitzpatrick winning the prestigious United Nations World Environment Day Individual Award. Your membership contribution helps us continue these efforts, plus create healthy wildlife habitat, promote students' environmental leadership skills, do research and advocate for healthy waterways and much, much more. As always, we work closely with our local community to make this happen.

Basic Membership is $16.50 individual / $22 household. You are entitled to vote or stand for Committee (our upcoming AGM is Sunday October 23).
Basic Membership - Pay Now
Green Membership is $33 individual / $44 household. This additionally offers significant discounts on many of our workshops and activities, 20% discount in our EcoShop and access to our library of books and documentaries. Full benefits list here.
Green Membership - Pay Now
To join simply click the relevant links (or buttons) above to go to our secure online gateway. Pay by credit card or paypal (no need to sign in).

Plus fill out our online membership form for our records.

If you prefer, call us during business hours on 03 9534 0670. Leave a voicemail if you don't get through. Or email with your name / phone, and a team member will contact you. We have staff standing by especially for you this week, so act now!
OUR CHIEF SPEAKS: How April Became a Member
Music and food lured me into EcoCentre membership! A recent arrival to Australia, I spent 2009 exploring Melbourne as a flâneur. One Saturday in St Kilda, the sound of music and scent of Vegilicious burgers attracted me to a cottage in the St Kilda Botanic Gardens - it was the EcoCentre's 10th birthday party! 
April, happy to be a member!
I became a member, joined the volunteer team, and never looked back. At that party, I witnessed many of our EcoCentre familiarities: friendly welcome, an organic feast, bright ideas, multicultural music, and connections from many sectors of community.

This year the EcoCentre turns 17 and we still throw delightful parties. Become individual or household members today, or during our free EcoArts Festival on 24 September, featuring wildlife walks, interactive animations, campfire food, music, and an Art-Science Forum. See you there!
STAFF SPARK: Love for the Local
Fam Charko, Projects & Research Manager at the EcoCentre is passionate about protecting and improving the environment locally. Over breakfast, I, Sar (Admin Ninja at the EcoCentre) asked what it is that sparks her passion, and she let me know that it is "right here".

Fam keenly cares about our beautiful local environment. That's why she's a Green Member of the EcoCentre. That's why she's  a member of Earthcare St Kilda. And the Yarra Riverkeepers. That's why she volunteers for Operation Sponge. Because these local initiatives are working to generate the change she wants to see. Or actually making the change happen in our own backyards.

To Fam it makes sense to put her money, time, and diving flippers behind causes she truly believes in. She can't volunteer to help with every worthy environmental action (although a part of her would like to!) so she chooses to support with her membership. That way action happens on her behalf. She can't be everywhere at the same time (who knew? She seems to be ...), but she can support the people who are out there on the front lines.

Fam's driving value is Connection with Nature, and she has a particular interest in Marine Research. Since she's a Marine Biologist this is not so surprising to me! I asked her curiously to help me understand what's so valuable about marine research. She explained that through citizen science it helps generate real change and involve community members in their local environment. Citizen Science with Kids To quote her:

"If people get involved with science and understand better what science is about, they can generate the changes they want to see. By learning to understand basic scientific principles and how those principles can be used to generate positive change for the environment, they can be the change by participating in citizen science."

Hmm, that does sound powerful. As though science is an agent of positive EcoChange, and we can jump on board ...

I freely admit I don't know much about science (yet). But Fam's passion and my own deep love for nature inspire me to learn more. Perhaps by attending the EcoCentre's next citizen science event! Perhaps I'll see you there? ;-) 

The EcoCentre acts as an 'umbrella group' providing support to like-minded organisations so that we all achieve more. This month we focus on our affiliate Veg Out. Find more info on affiliate membership here

Veg Out (Community Gardens St Kilda) is an organic, chemical-free garden run by volunteers and located in St Kilda. You've likely seen its luscious plots if you've walked behind Acland Street, past Luna Park on your way to the beach.

Formerly a lawn bowling green, the land Veg Out is situated on is administered by the local council for the State of Victoria, and has been permanently reserved for public use since 1881. They have over 140 garden plots, where members, friends, families and community groups enjoy getting their hands into the soil. Many have little or no gardening experience – but they soon learn, as advice, seedlings and friendships are readily shared.
Veg Out Community Gardens
A commitment to a sense of community, conservation and organic gardening principles underpins all activities on the site. Unlike most community gardens in Melbourne, Veg Out lacks rigid barriers between common land and each plot; the paths curve and meander; flowers, vegetables and artworks have equal standing; the rabbits, chickens, budgies and quails add yet another dimension; and the friendships that have sprung up between gardeners, artists and visitors make the gardens an oasis of calm in one of Melbourne’s busiest tourist precincts. A very fertile and creative place!

If you'd like to get involved your first step is to become a Friend (which is also the first step towards getting a plot of your own). You can also join in on Sunday Working Bees. Find more info here.

The Humble Raingarden
Have you heard of a raingarden? This is a garden bed designed to filter and treat stormwater runoff – the annual 500 billion litres of fast-rushing water from Melbourne’s roofs, driveways, and roads. Stormwater floods our waterways, hurting and polluting the habitat (with litter, chemicals, sediment, and excess nutrients). Too much stormwater = unhealthy creeks, rivers, bays, and oceans.

And here I just thought it was fun to float seedpod ‘canoes’ in  …
Raingarden base at Treehouse Kindergarten.
Although they look like a simple garden the humble raingarden is actually designed to withstand the large moisture and nutrient amounts in stormwater. By filtering this through plants and filter media (rock mulch, sand, soil) they clean and slowdown the stormwater from a runoff source as it runs downhill. The water can be absorbed rather than gaining erosive momentum.

The EcoCentre has 2 raingardens on site for you to check out and get ideas from.

Recently our Well Waters project (Finalist in the UN World Environment Day Awards and the Keep Victoria Beautiful Awards) helped Treehouse Kindergarten St Kilda build a very productive vegetable garden hosting a variety of species (and obviously requiring little watering!). Drains from the kindergarten lead to Shakespeare St (near the Veg Out gardens), past Luna Park, and out to the Bay. It’s really impacted students to understand the consequences of their waste: it directly hurts the Little Penguin colony, as well as our other marine wildlife.

You can install a raingarden in your garden to help Melbourne mitigate flooding: check out Melbourne Water’s list of raingarden varieties with instructions, here (near bottom of page).

Be the RE-Generation
Every Sunday, 4:00-6:00pm at start of St Kilda Pier, ST KILDA

Young people (15–25 years) meet every Sunday to help protect the biodiversity of our beloved Port Phillip Bay. It’s all about having fun and meeting others while helping the local environment. If you'd like to learn ecology and sustainability principles, do citizen science, and be a part of a team that achieves major habitat enhancement join us, and 'Be the RE-Generation'! Book here. You can also sign up to our mailing list.

A Little Bit of Litter Really Matters
Thursday 1 - Wednesday 14 September

An up and coming Australian hip-hop artist known as MC Guttermouth has been spreading dirty words. He has written a song and it's catchy, convincing people that a little bit of litter doesn't matter. Does it matter? We need your help to tell it to him ... Read More.

11th Annual Sustainable Schools Festival
Friday 9 September, 9:30am-2:30pm at St Kilda Town Hall & Port Phillip EcoCentre

A fantastic sustainability day open to all schools, filled with 'Kids Teaching Kids' workshops (sponsored by Cities of Port Phillip, Bayside & Stonnington), awards and fun. Find out more and book here.

Elwood Poetry Prize Community Awards Afternoon
Sunday 17 September, 1:30-2:30pm at Port Phillip EcoCentre

Celebrate Spring with Cr Jane Touzeau and the EcoCentre's Elwood Poetry Prize Community Awards Afternoon Tea. Enjoy a cuppa and readings by the winning poets. This year's theme is 'the beach' and our judges enjoyed the many seaside perspectives woven into poems. Community winners announced on the day; don't miss this lovely annual event, and the distribution of cash prizes! (Student winners announced 9 September at the EcoCentre's Sustainable Schools Festival.)

EcoArts Festival
Saturday 24 September, 3:30-7:30pm at EcoCentre, 55A Blessington St ST KILDA

Join us for the EcoArts Festival, a community festival to connect with nature, create art, and share stories and ideas! Make sure you see the spectacle of Illuminate 2030, a roaming projection work that will explore different future climate scenarios for the City of Port Phillip. Bookmark the date. Find out more here.

EcoArts Festival: Wildlife Walks - St Kilda Botanic Gardens
Saturday 24 September, 3:30-4:30pm at EcoCentre, 55A Blessington St ST KILDA

Explore the world of plants, fungi, indigenous flora, wildlife and history of the St Kilda Botanic Gardens. This one hour walk will be led by enthusiastic botanist and EcoCentre educator Peter Kelly. We will finish up at the EcoCentre at 4.30pm for the EcoArts Festival activities. Book here.

Habitat Gardening and Frog Ponds
Tuesday 4 October, 7:00-9:00pm at Glen Eira Town Hall, Cnr Glen Eira & Hawthorn Roads CAULFIELD

Would you like to provide a home for a Growling Grass Frog or a Common Froglet? Join Port Phillip EcoCentre’s award-winning Neil Blake to learn about the different species of birds, bees and frogs you can attract into your garden. Bookings essential, book here.

Environmental Film Festival Australia: Melbourne Down Under (Primary Screening - Yrs 3-6)
Friday 7 October, 10:00-11:30am at ACMI, Federation Square MELBOURNE

Our Award-Winning Youth Wildlife Ambassador Gio Fitzpatrick is giving an educational talk before this educational film. Melbourne Down Under showcases the city's best kept secret - Port Phillip Bay, a marine environment that rivals tropical reefs in colour and diversity. This film is a great a conversation starter to raise awareness of Port Phillip Bay, how to care for it and how our actions on land can have an impact on these marine environments. Cost is $10 per student, teachers free. Book here.

Environmental Film Festival Australia: Revolution (Secondary Screening - Yrs 8-10)
Friday 7 October, 12:00-2:00pm at ACMI, Federation Square MELBOURNE

Our Award-Winning Youth Wildlife Ambassador Gio Fitzpatrick is giving an educational talk before this educational film. Startling, beautiful, and provocative, Revolution is an epic adventure that inspires our youth to start a revolution and change the world forever. What quickly becomes apparent is that the global conservation movement depends on the passion of young people, and that information changes everything. Cost is $12 per student, teachers free. Book here.

TEN Teacher Professional Development
Wednesday 26 October, 4:00-5:30pm at Albert Park Primary School, Bridport St W

At our October workshop we will be exploring the issue of WASTE and Andrea Eales from Albert Park Primary will be showcasing the many innitiatives her school has taken to promote positive behaviour change in students and staff. If your interested in signing up for the workshop please email us at Our workshops are always free of charge and are a wonderful opportunity to enhance environment and sustainability content knowledge and get exciting new ideas for classroom teaching.

Transition Port Phillip - Calling Community Connectors & Change Agents!
EcoCentre affiliate, Transition Port Phillip is part of the global Transition Town movement and was initiated in 2009 by locals, to inspire community connectedness and sustainable living. We're putting the call out for locals to join the Guiding Committee and be part of shaping the new direction for the group. Please email to express your interest. Also please note TPP has a new facebook page which is now their main hub! Connect with them there.

EcoArts Festival
Saturday 24 September, Lead-up plus varying times from 2:00-7:30pm at EcoCentre

Our EcoCentre is excited to be hosting an EcoArts Festival. We're after volunteers who would like to get involved in various roles in the lead up and on the day including: Safety Marshals, Welcome Desk, Nature Walks (to the EcoCentre from another location), Fire Observer, Workshop Helpers, General Helpers. Please email expressions of interest to

EcoCentre Community Garden
Regularly on Fridays with the Garden Team

Our Community Garden is looking for volunteers who can donate up to 5 hours on a Friday to test out those green thumbs. We like to build relationships with our garden volunteers, so the more you can attend the better, whether it is once a week, once a fortnight, or once a month!

Our garden is a shared edible community garden maintained by garden-lovers. It is also an education garden on sustainable planting. We focus on growing heirloom varieties, soil creation, propagation and seed-saving, companion planting, and organic methods. Our gardeners enjoy being involved in community spirit, learning and practising gardening skills, harvesting and eating healthy and indigenous foods, the health benefits of gardening in nature, and leading the way in community food security.

Are you up for the challenge? Contact Anthony on to get involved.

Showcasing Victoria's Marine Science
Wednesday 14 September, 6:00pm at Melbourne Museum Theatre, Carlton Gardens

Join us for an evening of 6 exciting and inspiring talks from some of Victoria's leading marine scientists. Topics include Graeme Hays on "Giant sea turtle visitors to the Victorian coast" and Amanda Petterson on "Why do colder mothers make bigger offspring?". Tickets are limited. Book now.

Friends of Native Wildlife Inc - Wild in Bayside: Frogs
Tuesday 20 September, 7:30pm at Beaumaris Community Centre Hall (rear Beaumaris Library)

Friends of Native Wildlife Inc join Richard Akers from Melbourne Water as he tells us about the frogs of Melbourne. Bring your questions about our frogs in Bayside and meet and greet a frog or two. Friends of Native Wildlife have participated in the Frog Census co-ordinated by Melbourne Water for fifteen years. Register here.

Friends of Native Wildlife Inc - Water Bugs: Learn to Identify Local Invertebrates
Sunday 25 September, 9:30am at Elsternwick Park, BRIGHTON

As part of Waterwatch Victoria, join Friends of Native Wildlife Inc and Friends of Elster Creek monitoring invertebrates and water quality. Learn to identify the bugs in the water. Wear solid shoes or gumboots, warm clothes and a smile. Disposable gloves provided. Children 11 years old or less accompanied by an adult please. Register here.

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