Building a Community

All successful brands need to build a community of fans, followers and supporters if they are to be sustainable over the long term.

Whether you’re a business start-up, a social enterprise or are developing a one-off campaign for a community issue, understanding how you can effectively connect with people and get them behind your cause is critical.

In this interview with Trevor Young, self-confessed ‘digital thinker and doer’ Kate Kendall provides insights into how business and community-based brands can develop a gain support by building and cultivating a community of followers and advocates.

Recently named amongst The Age (Melbourne) magazine’s ‘100 Most Influential, Inspiring and Creative’ people, Kate has been building and managing online communities for many years.

Kate is behind two new start-up enterprises – theFetch (a ‘what’s on’ directory for the business, digital and creative communities for Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane, London, New York and Berlin) and Cloud Peeps, which provides social media services for startups and small businesses. She also founded Social Melbourne, a weekly get-together for Melbourne’s social media community.

It’s Recycling Week! Check out these tips for getting involved…

It’s Recycling Week!

For those of you who want get involved but don’t know how, we’ve put together a list of ways to help make it happen:




  • Brush up on your knowledge of what can and can’t be recycled and make sure you don’t send anything that can’t be processed. Each city has its own specifics, so try to follow those guidelines as best you can
  • Try a new form of recycling. You could attend a clothing swap or recycle your pre-loved clothes at a nearby charity. You might even know an artist who could make use of your recycled goods
  • If you don’t love something, let it go and give it away for a new life with someone else

Turning PC monitors off to save energy
Jason is trying to encourage people to turn their computers and monitors off at the end of each day. Get involved by starting a new habit yourself today or creating a new environmental initiative at your office. Find out more.

Greening the West
Healthy Urban Habitat is Greening the West by exploring new ways to improve the climate, environment and health status of Melbourne’s western suburbs. They hope to increase vegetation and tree canopy cover through the suburbs by collaborating with councils, businesses, community groups and the Department of Health. Do you have an idea you can contribute?

Melbourne City Rooftop Honey
Vanessa wants to bring honey bees back to the city of Melbourne with the practice of natural, rooftop beekeeping. The plan aims to get local businesses and individuals on board by offering their rooftops for beekeeping, or purchasing rooftop honey. Can you help?

Big plans...

At the start of the year I stumbled across a fabulous online community called PlanBig, which essentially helps bring people together to make things happen! PlanBig creates a place for people to share their ideas for a better future and facilitates community collaboration between people from all walks of life.

Up until a couple of weeks ago I was just a PlanBig stalker - you can follow plans, make comments, provide tips and advice etc to other people’s plans. However, I recently placed our plan - let’s make borrowing the new buying - on PlanBig and the support and interest from the community has been fantastic!

I am a fan of the whole premise of PlanBig. I am an ‘idea generator' and I find the Planbig site an exciting and inspiring place to hang out!

I like the collaborative underpinnings of the site and that it creates a place (online) that people can come together to talk about ideas, share inspiration, offer advice and assistance to help make 'Big Plans' happen, regardless of geography.

In the last couple of weeks I have met with a couple of Plan Biggers to find out more about their plans and because they really just sounded like cool people! I thought I would tell you a little bit about then and their plans, so you can get an idea of all the fabulous stuff going on in the PlanBig world:

Sarah Allen is an awesome Plan Bigger - she is bubbly, enthusiastic and full of ideas! Sarah is on the PlanBig Community advisory board and organises Sydney PlanBig Meetups.

Sarah’s PlanBig plan - Return to the old-school action thriller - is to self publish and develop a loyal and passionate following of readers for the Alex Morgan INTREPID adventure series, written by her husband, Chris Allen. You can download the first 12 chapters of Chris’ first novel, Defender of the Faith here. And you also have an opportunity to win tickets to the launch of Defender of the Faith on 26 August.

A couple of weeks ago I sat down and had a coffee with Marianne and Andrew from Young Republic, Australia’s first interactive marketplace for fashion, jewellery, homewares, art & lifestyle products from home-grown upcoming and independent designers. I first heard of Young Republic through PlanBig and ever curious, I wanted to know more about their story! Both were extremely generous in sharing the lessons they have learnt through building their site, marketing, branding and how to deal with copycats!

Last night I attended their launch and night markets to celebrate the site being live for two months. I really enjoyed chatting to the designers and this week I’ll be featuring those I met over on Outside of the Box’s daily gift ideas.

And last, but certainly not least! Last week I grabbed the opportunity to have a coffee with Ehon Chan, while he was visiting Sydney. I heard Ehon speak at Gathering'11 and when I heard he was also part of PlanBig I of course checked his plans out. Ehon’s PlanBig profile sums him up perfectly:

I breathe social change. I have passion for young people who want to change the world and their own world. I love stories and ideas; and I want to hear yours!

Ehon’s most recent PlanBig Plan - Soften the F**ck Up is all about challenging the stereotype of the 'real man’ in Australia. The campaign seeks to reduce the stigma of mental health and issues associated with it amongst men, because without reducing the stigma, we can’t promote mental health literacy and empower young men to seek help. You can sign up for the newsletter “here”:soften and the word on the street is that the site is just hours away from going live!

I would love to hear about any PlanBig plans you think we should be supporting. If this is the first time you have heard of PlanBig I strongly encourage you to check it out, and get inspired by all the awesome 'big plans’ that are being thought of in Australia! And since your there, why don’t you pop over and “like” our plan - cheers!

Clean up the World weekend


Clean up the World is happening this weekend and there are plenty of things you can do to contribute to a cleaner and healthier world.

Every little bit counts so now is the time for you to rally your local footy club, your work or school to come together and help make a difference to your local environment.

We’ve put together some ideas on how you can get your friends, family and colleagues involved in this great cause.

  1. Organise a clean-up in your local area. All you have to do is register online to put your group’s activity on the global environmental map.
  2. Set out on a tree planting mission. Trees are crucial in producing the oxygen to help our beautiful planet survive and this is a good chance for you to unleash your inner child and have some fun in the dirt with your friends.

We have some inspiring planners who are trying to do their bit for the environment. Check out their plans to see how you can help!

Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta

Shani Graham has a goal to celebrate sustainable and community living with the 2011 Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta. This year’s festivities promise to be bigger and better than previous years with a new pizza oven, a community mural and a new Projects Committee all raring to go. She hopes to encourage others to take on sustainable changes in their own lives; see if you can help Shani here.

Greening the West 

Green spaces create more livable suburbs, a cleaner environment and contribute to improved community health. As such, Clare is facilitating a Greening the West program as part of City West Water’s Healthy Urban Habitat Strategy, to plant more trees and vegetation in the western suburbs of Melbourne. Show your support here.


Boby has plans to expand and grow Fair@Square Festival to make it an integral part of Melbourne with the goal to increase international support and recognition. She aims to create positive social impact by increasing economic opportunities to disadvantaged farmers, producers, workers and businesses operating in the ethical and social enterprise sector. Find out more here.

Hulbert St Sustainability Fiesta enjoys another successful year!

A thank you note from Tim……..  

Want a tip for gracious living? Here’s one you can try.

You know when you go for an early morning walk on the beach, and you see groups of people doing all sorts of bazaar, unusual, inexplicable … .and yet obviously very purposeful activities? You know, it might be Tai Chi or Chi Gung or Sahatharahawidgemultha breath meditation …whatever.

Well one of those groups is likely to be me, my partner Shani and an assortment of friends and neighbours.

Over summer we developed a bit of a routine. You walk down to the beach (dogs optional) and walk briskly to the northern groyne. At this point you touch a rock with some part of your anatomy and star vacantly into space (preferably without drooling) while you cast your mind back over the previous 24 hours and remember three things that you are grateful for.

When the slowest (ie most reflective) person has been able to come up with three we walk quietly back down the beach, each person sharing what their three grateful things were. 

Now I know this may sound a bit Secret Seven or Californian New Age Sunshine Church of Positive Thinking ish (after all we are in Fremantle!) but I’ve found this a great way to start the day. Us humans, you know, we’re a cynical bunch and it’s easy to bypass or ignore the simple pleasures and give over to the majority of life’s ruminations  - outstanding tax returns, frothless cappuccinos or the despairing looks on the faces of homeless polar bears as they drift north on their tiny ever decreasing ice burgs.

I’ve found that, when repeated regularly the “Early Morning Three Grateful Things While Walking on the Beach” meditation not only forces you to think (even if only fleetingly) of the best things that have happened in your day, but after a while you start bookmarking things as they happen. You know “hey I just found an unexpected $20 in the pocket of my old jeans. If nothing else happens today that can be one of my three grateful things” (See there you go you have two already – you found $20 and you are able to use that as a grateful thing – you only need one more!)

There is even a term for those days that after much reflection, have really just been s**t. One morning the best my friend and neighbour could come up with was “Well I have two legs … and they both work”

This is what we call a “hard grateful day”

That’s the three grateful things: Meditation. Try it. You might like it.

So anyway this morning as Shani and I shared our three grateful things, we were so grateful that three just wasn’t enough. You see the previous two days were spent at the Hulbert Street Sustainability Fiesta.

We had such a wonderful time that just three grateful things just didn’t cut it.

We did three each, another three, then another three, and the three grateful things lasted all day and well into the night …

Mmmm  …Now that I think about it maybe I should see if I can open some kind of grateful account. I reckon I could come up with enough grateful things from those two days to tide me over into next year.

In the end we pared it down – here’s a combined list from Shani and I -

1. The 178 entry, open home, dishwashing, panic party and other volunteers who donated $31,825.00  worth of time and in kind support.

 2. The 205 people from 31 community groups who shared their vision and commitment. 

3. The 181 people who shared their passions and talent at the Show and Tell and Busking areas.

4. The 10 sponsors and visitors who donated financially to fund the $27,305 in cash needed to run the Fiesta.

5. The 52 food, artist and business stall holders who added such colour and warmth.

6. The 77 residents of the 30 houses on Hulbert Street for their open homes, gardens and hearts.

7. The 6595 visitors who came to the Fiesta, and between them only created 6 bins of recyclable resources, and no rubbish – but  two big piles of compost for the Hulbert Street Guerilla Garde

 OK … … I know … . .  that makes seven … …

It was such an awesome experience to take part in the fiesta, the PlanBig crew had an unbelievable time. What would you add to the grateful account?

It’s Social Inclusion Week! Check out these tips for getting involved…

It’s Social Inclusion Week!

This week is all about connecting with local communities, work mates, family and friends to build relationships and networks to support people who may be unable to help themselves.

 Not sure how to get involved? We’ve profiled planners from around the country who need your help! Check them out:

VIC: Bendigo Blues and Roots Festival

Colin is bringing the first ever Blues and Roots Festival to Central Victoria this weekend. He hopes to shine a light on some of the amazing local talent and give music lovers a fun, free, family-friendly event that gives everyone the opportunity to experience the thrill of a live music event. Head to one of the events this weekend!

SA: Bears for Birthdays

Alicia is trying to make birthdays more special for kids in foster homes by sending them birthday cards and teddy bears. Do you have a blank birthday card or teddy bear you’d like to donate? Get in touch here.

ACT: The Big Bee

Anne is trying to get the Canberra community together this weekend to help cleanup and work on their backyards. Anne hopes the Big Bee will connect friends, families and neighbours to do something different for their community. Volunteer now!

NSW: Win-Win Community Trading

Irene wants to help people with limited career options use their natural abilities to make money through community collaboration. Do you know someone who chould be involved? Spread the word now.

WA: Arts & Crafts Against Digital Boredom

Saskia is trying to get families out and about and doing something educational and entertaining together through arts and crafts. Are you looking for a creative outlet this weekend? Find out more here.

QLD: Feed our Hungry

Megan’s charitable organisation, Feed Our Hungry (FOH), is trying to feed low income families and homeless people in Brisbane. FOH needs a kitchen to help even more people every day. Do you know someone who can help?

TAS: Eco Launderette 

Tim hopes to launch a sustainable launderette that is disconnected from the power grid, uses and re-uses its own water supply and generates power and steam from geothermal energy and solar power. Show your support here.

Stuff New Year's Resolutions and Get Stuff Done

I’m pretty skepty about New Year’s resolutions. Sitting deep in the collective consciousness are promises to eat better, exercise more and quit smoking. This is the year we’re going to flip a switch and just be better.

Or in the words of Liz Lemon: “Well, I had a great summer, too… I started a quilt, I did yoga twice a week, I wore flip flops in public. I really feel like this is going to be my year.”

Don’t get me wrong, I love goals. A couple of weeks before Christmas I was having lunch with my friend Tammy and we shared a high-five over the fact that 2012 would bring more goals and new ways of achieving them. The thing I’m not hot on and something I’ve often done is setting resolutions in the week of excess that is Christmas/New Years. We often feel guilty after stuffing ourselves with plates of food and boxes of alcohol in our holidays. It lends itself to setting unrealistic expectations of gastronomic purity to repent for our recent caloric sins (and other hedonistic/lazy pursuits such as smoking, not being organised, wasting money and not exercising).

In an article for the Sydney Morning Herald, clinical psychologist Grant Brecht outlines the problem with New Years Resolutions: “People come up with the resolution with very little thought, often alcohol-fuelled, and they don’t go through goal setting in a strategic manner. These are knee-jerk reactions and a bit flippant, not actual goals.“

Brecht recommends that you call them goals, not resolutions and you make sure that they’re SMART - Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-based (which if you’ve ever taken Marketing 101 may cause you to roll your eyes. Go with it.) Making sure you’ve thought through your goals carefully and created some boundaries will mean you’re far less likely to abandon them in the average of three to five days.

Brecht also recommends that you share your goals with others. When we did the Half Six Breakfast Club, getting up every morning at 6.30am every day for 30 days, the social pressure of telling everyone that’s what I was doing and having to update the time I got up every morning was the only thing that got me through. Without it I wouldn’t have lasted a week. A delightful side effect to putting the updates out there through PlanBig, Facebook and Twitter was that a bunch of people joined in and encouraged me along the way. As Scott Belsky says in my favourite book, Making Ideas Happen, “your accountability to your own ideas is greatly amplified when you “go public” on any project – and even more so when you publicly proclaim your goals.”

So take some time, reflect on the last year and what you’d like to achieve in 2012, write it down and tell someone about it! I’d love to hear what you’re up to, what are your goals for 2012?


It’s International Volunteer Day! Here are six ways for you to get involved…

It’s International Volunteer Day! There are so many ways you can help out and every little bit counts.

 Here are six ways you can get involved:

  1. Give your time: Volunteer the old fashioned way and give up some of your time to get out and about for a cause you care about. Not sure where to start? Check out the Australian Charity Guide for a comprehensive list of charities.

  2. Give your advice: Are you an expert in your field? Perhaps you could offer up your expertise for a day, week, month or year to a charity of your choice that might benefit. Alternatively, you could set PlanBig as your home page and drop in to offer advice whenever you like!

  3. Give your feedback: Sometimes what people really need is a critical eye. Responding to a survey request or offering feedback on a proposed idea can mean wonders to a person.

  4. Give your contacts: Sometimes it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Can you put someone in touch with a great resource? Maybe it’s not you who can help this time around - maybe a friend, colleague or acquaintance can help instead! Organising a coffee catch-up to help connect the dots or sending someone your list of relevant industry contacts might be the best value you can offer.

  5.  Give your stuff: When was the last time you spring-cleaned your wardrobe – or your entire house for that matter? This week could be the week for you to dust off your pre-loved clothes, books or homewares to be dropped off at a local charity bin near you.

  6. Give gifts that matter: Not sure what to buy your Kris Kringle this year? How about a goat or a fruit tree for a community in need? Lots of charities offer similar programs and they’re definitely worth a peek.

Whatever you do this International Volunteer Day, make sure you have fun and above all else, spread the word!



The exciting launch of the Cabramatta PCYC art mural took place over the weekend and the PlanBig team was lucky enough to be there to join in the celebrations. The project is the brainchild of Anna Dang who wanted to use the first ever “Think Global, Act Local” community festival to send a message about the need to work together to achieve a better, brighter and beautiful future for all.

Check out all the action from the day here.

Big News (January)


The new year has kicked off with a bang – with more and more plans popping up and achieving success with the help of our much loved supporters.

Our community continues to grow as we start the year with 2,680 likes on Facebook and 2,127 followers on Twitter – we really appreciate the ongoing support from all of you!

Some of our January highlights included:

Clipsal 500 Adelaide – The Race that Rocks

Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation’s Clipsal 500 Adelaide plan is a success! JDRF set out to recruit volunteers to attend the Clipsal 500 Adelaide this March to help shake tins, sell merchandise and dress as the JDRF Giant Jelly Baby mascot. JDRF has successfully recruited up to 60 volunteers per day for the event, and each will contribute to the ultimate goal of raising awareness about type 1 diabetes and $100,000 towards type 1 diabetes research. Read more about this plan here.

Dismantle – Bike Recycling

After a year and a half from concept to delivery and hundreds of volunteering hours dedicated to this project, the Dismantle plan is a success! With a vision of creating a vibrant community hub that celebrates sustainability, physical health, environmental friendly living and recycling, Dismantle has achieved all of this and more using bicycles as a medium for generating long-term social change. Hats off to Dismantle – check out the plan here.

Angels House

The Angels House plan was to help equip kids in care with the skills needed to lead successful and fulfilling lives. The plan has seen many achievements such as a steady army of volunteers working hard to help kids in crisis or care, the Wagga Wagga community donating items for crisis care packages, and care packages being sent to multiple states for kids in crisis or care. Congratulations to all involved on this great cause! Show your support here.

There are more inspiring plans to get behind next month – here are a few to check out:

Walk every day for 60 days kicked off on January 3rd

The Arcadia International Environmental Film Festival plan started on January 12th

Be Creative, Save a Life started on January 25th

Ask questions and you will find the answers – tips and tricks on how to create a survey

Surveys are a fantastic way to test the waters with your big idea and are a powerful research tool to help you get insights or feedback. An interesting and well written survey will generate a high response rate and provide you with quality information that can be used to improve your business or get your idea off the ground.

Here are a few suggestions on how to get started and some best practice tips to make sure you get the results you’re after. 

  1. Clearly define your objective and goals to help serve as the foundation of the survey. People are more likely to participate when they know the reasons for the survey, what information will be requested, and how their feedback will be used.

  2. Identify the data you need and know what information is required to help you make a more informed decision. There is no point in asking questions that are not going to help you reach a verdict.

  3. Craft your questions carefully. How you ask your questions can make a big difference in the quality of data you receive so avoid agree/disagree scales and avoid asking leading questions that may lead respondents towards a certain answer.

  4. Spread the word amongst your networks to help you get responses. Use Facebook, Twitter or your blog (if you have one) to help you get your survey out the door. There’s nothing more satisfying than seeing the results of your survey come streaming in.

  5. Publish your results online. People who respond will be interested in seeing the results and having access to these results will encourage them to complete the survey.
Keep busy this summer with your loved ones...

Summer is here! This means longer days and more time spent with family and friends. If you’re looking for ways to beat the summertime boredom we’ve put together some fun and easy arts and crafts ideas to inspire you:

1.      Make your own cute drinks coasters

2.      Super easy button snap clips

3.      Make your own candles

4.      DIY cherry blossom canvas

5.      Mosaic design and colour

We also have some amazing planners who are doing some exciting projects in the arts and crafts space, check them out and see if you can lend a helping hand:

Sheep Art Kaniva

The Sheep Art Kaniva project aims to celebrate Kaniva’s rich sheep and wool growing history through a community arts project. The idea is to create a flock of fiberglass sheep painted by local artists and community groups that could be utilised at a variety of events throughout the town and region. Do you have any suggestions? Get in touch here.

Art-vend QLD

Art-Vend is an initiative created by Melbourne artist Nick Ilton with a goal to successfully connect working artists of Australia with the wider Australian community. The concept is to build a transportable vending machine that vends artworks, zines, CDs and small sculptures to the public – encompassing the ideas of connectivity, community involvement and artistic opportunities. Do you have anything to add? Share your ideas here.

Arts & Crafts Against Digital Boredom

Saskia wants to make family leisure time in Geraldton more fun. She is trying to encourage families to be inspired and entertained the old fashioned way, by getting creative through arts and crafts rather than watching TV or playing on the computer. Show your support here.

Injecting creativity into your plans


Sometimes all it takes to get your big idea noticed is a little bit of creativity. Some of the best and brightest ideas started out as a simple concept, and were made unique through their execution.

So to get those creative juices flowing we’ve pulled together some tips and tricks for breaking out of the box and away from the norm.

Do things differently. Creativity is fuelled by sights, sounds and smells. Travel to work on a different route, eat new food, read something different or try something you normally wouldn’t. Changing your day-to-day activities can help you change your way of thinking.

Associate with creative and inspiring people. Inspiration is catching. Spend time with creative and inspirational friends or join new groups online and offline to grow your network and learn from new people. Two heads are always better than one – so capitalise on these moments for quick brainstorms.

 Find patterns & create combinations. Ideas spark ideas, which then spark more ideas, and so on – you catch the drift. Increase your exposure to new ideas, then look for patterns and see how you can combine ideas to improve upon existing solutions.

Draw. Creativity can be stimulated through colour, and drawing while brainstorming or even sketching out your concept can help give you a new way of looking at things (literally!).

Give yourself brain space. Go for a walk, step away from your desk or sit outside and let your mind wander…then wait for inspiration to strike.

We’re seeing more and more creativity from our planners in their plans, using their artistic flair for a range of great causes. Here are a few we think are putting a great spin on creativity for a good cause:

Glee for Charity

Rather than donating money to charities in need, Nish is donating glee, bringing musicians together to perform for charities in need. Join the band or suggest a charity here.


The 1egg1world boys are renowned for constantly taking bigger and better steps towards their goal of raising $1 million for charity. They recently drew attention to their cause by bringing hundreds of people together in a giant flash mob. How can you scale up your big idea? Check their plan out here.

Art beyond Words

Art beyond Words is helping young people beat depression by expressing themselves through art. An exhibition at the end of the campaign will help raise money for beyondblue – two great ways to help the cause! Find out more about the exhibition here

Fashion against Disaster

The fashion against disaster crew is bringing fashionistas together to celebrate fashion while fundraising for the victims of the recent tsunami in Japan. Tomomi is leveraging a common passion for a common cause – how can you do the same? Find out more about Fashion against Disaster here.



Scott Kilmartin – Persistence Pays

Scott Kilmartin is the founder of, an independent design brand based in Fitzroy, Melbourne.

haul upcycles used vinyl advertising billboards, rubber print blankets, truck inner tubes and number plates into uncommon lifestyle accessories such as Macbook cases, laptop bags, messenger bags, luggage tags and iPad 2 cases.

haul also has a corporate arm that makes promotional products and eco gifts for companies from their old advertising campaign billboards.

In this interview, Scott paints a picture of what’s involved in getting a start-up enterprise up and running and provides would-be entrepreneurs with experience-based practical tips and advice.