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An Alpaca in Byron

July 8, 2011


You may recall that this portion of my blog is dedicated to the community platform Community Engine will be deploying to the Byron Bay community in a few months’ time.

After being told a few times that ‘Byron Bay is a town with a lot of character’, I wasn’t surprised when the first thing I saw getting out of the car outside the Byron Community Centre was a man with an Alpaca (seen pictured above with Community Engine founder Brandon Saul). And thus began a whirlwind few days flitting about Byron Shire talking to business and community leaders of each town.

We had a great conversation with the guys (and gal) from Northern Rivers Tourism, who are working hard to bring more people to the region, and recently in conjunction with Deano Powers, ran a series of social media workshops for small to medium business in the area which was well received. Thanks to their support, we got a great feel for the key players in the business community who might be interested in using social media to bring people to the area and to participate in the community platform we’re building.

Most importantly, we were amazed at the range and diversity of work done by Paul Spooner and team at Byron Community Centre, raising money to put back into a number of programs to help others; With money collected from various markets, films and fashion shows, they help fund community activities, a house for the homeless, zero-interest money lending for businesses in need, distribute food vouchers, and many other things. It was a shame to hear that despite generating this good karma in the community, the tax office unfortunately comes down hard on the centre because they make money – even though every penny goes back into the community services they provide! It was great to hear what they needed though to continue their great work, which is to say – for more people to visit their events, and to give back to the community.

We learnt a bit about the Mullum Music Festival in November from Glen, who was busily organising sponsorship for this year’s event, and about the Mullumbimby community in general from Greg, the president of the Community Gardens there.

The only hiccup of our Byron Bay exploration was getting lost going from Mullumbimby back to the highway, with our GPS finding…let’s just say the most scenic route out of town and leave it at that.

In terms of understanding how a localised, community oriented social networking platform could take off in a place like Byron Bay, we left full of confidence that local people will find value in building and driving their community via the platform.

We’ll be back regularly in the area to speak with various community groups and opinion leaders in the area, but if you’re wanting to know more, you can find me by commenting on this blog, emailing, or on Twitter: @eyeonbyron



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  1. Which one is the Alpaca?

  2. Hi John, thanks for the mention. Northern Rivers Tourism are a savvy and forward looking organisation, it’s been a pleasure working with Russell and Jess. All the best, Deano

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