Scaling up ‘the village’

Felix Pal says the council could support community groups to do the work it can’t. Photo supplied.

WHILE Felix Pal’s bid for Beaconsfield ward represents a first foray into civil servitude, his platform is influenced by his experiences as a community organiser. 

Having been ‘raised by a village’ himself, he reckons the network of shared childcare, rides to school and meal help he experienced growing up in Beacy could be scaled up across the city.

“Why can’t we try to organise ourselves in a way where everyone has access to, for example, shared community childcare,” Mr Pal said.

Alongside artist Pascal Georgie, he’s organising Beaconsfield’s Mulberry Festival tomorrow (Sunday October 17) celebrating the local mulberry harvest with arts, music, and plenty of locally sourced treats.

The festival fits with Mr Pal’s vision of a council that supports community groups to do the work it doesn’t have the resources to do itself, and he wants the city’s small grants program expanded.

Vibrancy

The pair received a $5,000 arts grant from the council to run the festival: “I think the small cost will be repaid a thousandfold in terms of vibrancy of events and strengthening the community,” Mr Pal said. 

“I think we’re really lucky in Fremantle to already have so many people working on these kinds of projects,” many of them powered by volunteers.

But he recognises the council’s got a tight grip on the purse at the moment, and says in the interim more could be done to cut the red tape for grassroots organisations.

“What the council can’t do, it should make it as easy as possible for a community group to do.”

While Mr Pal supports expanded social housing in the Heart of Beaconsfield project, doorknocking has made him aware that not everyone shares the love.  “Nobody is against social housing, but a lot of people don’t want it next door,” said Mr Pal, acknowledging that many of their security concerns “come from experience”. 

He says he wants to open up “conversations around recognising that people in social housing are part of our community,” especially as housing costs skyrocket and students and strugglers find themselves pushed from their homes.

Social justice was also close to heart for Mr Pal upon founding the LGBTQIA+ community group This n That last September. Now with 1,000 Facebook members he said it showed there was an unfilled need south of the river.

“One of the things I’m hoping to do on council is to make sure that the advocacy the council performs is animated by a sense of social justice,” Mr Pal said.

by CARSON BODIE

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