Resilient Byron

the power of collaboration, goddammit!

What could a scene from One Flew Over a Cuckoo’s Nest have to tell us about the power of collaboration? A group of asylum inmates, a mute Indian the size of Hercules, an inspiring but mortal leader in the form of Jack Nicholson’s Randall McMurphy and the seemingly impossible task of lifting a massive, marble sink.

Mayor Simon Richardson“When I first watched this scene, these inmates deeply affected me and I saw it as a complex tribute to the strength of the human spirit; being free even when broken. Now, I see it as a litmus test for how collaboration can succeed or fail”, said Byron Shire Mayor – Simon Richardson.

McMurphy wants to bring hope to his fellow inmates – he bets them he can lift the massive marble sink. He puts every sinew of his body, every string of his mental bow into the task. For a brief moment it seems to move and be possible; then he drops in a heap of exhausted failure, left saying “But I tried, didn’t I? Goddammit, at least I did that.”

In the final scene, the mute Indian, with his Herculean strength, lifted up and threw the marble sink through the barred window and escaped into the night and to freedom. So, back to the question of collaboration.

“Any incredibly hard idea will not happen if left to one mere mortal, no matter how inspiring and committed and McMurphy-like they are. An extraordinary person, a one in a million near demigod, mute Indian type may succeed in bringing an idea to life if everything fell perfectly into place and if the path had already been prepared. The most likely way to lift the sink, to make an idea live, is if people come together; if all the inmates joined McMurphy and lifted it together.

We can sit by and watch and hope one person does something extraordinary, or wait for someone extraordinary to appear. Or we can combine our forces, our strength, our commitment and together be extraordinary.

This is the power of collaboration. And even if we do fail, we do so together, making it easier next time. Oh and we can say, but we tried, didn’t we? Goddammit, at least we did that”

together with the Byron BR+E.

“Without question our businesses are the leaders of a collaborative and resilient Byron economy, with small business generating an estimated 80% of jobs locally. To effectively assist business growth we need to know what the challenges really are, and where the aspiration resides. Getting a fix on this is the priority and is all part of Council being responsive.” says Jane Laverty – Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator at Byron Shire Council.

Over the coming weeks Byron’s 4,046 businesses will have the opportunity to plug into the Byron BR+E (business retention and expansion survey).

“Collecting this data and working in collaboration to sharpen business capability, find out what’s getting in the way or what can make a difference to the future will place Byron and its enterprises a further three steps ahead of the game – and that’s where we want to stay, and it’s part of the resilience strategy.” continues Ms Laverty.

To be part of the story, Byron Shire businesses can do the online survey at or contact the Economic Development & Tourism team on 6626 7000 to organise an interview.

As an extra incentive Byron Bay Business Retreats have partnered the project, providing an opportunity for the first 200 survey entries to go in to the draw to win a team building workshop worth $2,500.

crafting a resilient Byron

Never a place to simply roll with the seasons, there’s a hustle, an un-stoppable new energy emerging from Byron, this community is in so many ways boldly redefining its self.

With more national and global brands per capita than anywhere else in regional NSW – many of them home grown; combined with innovators, culture shakers, creatives and thinkers around every corner you can quickly picture the outcome forecast for a collaborative Byron investing in building a resilient economy for its community.

Resilient Byron

“And that’s exactly what we have. It’s an evolution not a revolution and it is definitely stimulating business and investment confidence”, says Jane Laverty – Economic Development and Tourism Coordinator.

“The desire for advantage clustering, multi-dimensional partnerships, business-to-business supply, social enterprise and doing things together has never been stronger. We credit the success of the Town Centre masterplan engagement processes, now state and national award winning, as the catalyst for this change in thinking. Maintaining and building momentum with strategic game changers is playing a huge role in reshaping resilience within the economy and the community across the Shire”.

Taking a closer look you see innovation at its best. Leading by example, as the planning phase of the masterplan development project came to a close in early 2016, Council launched the first ever Placemaking Seed Fund with an investment of just $60,000.

A call for expressions of interest from event organisations, creatives and entrepreneurs to pitch ideas that would assist to transform the under-utilised spaces, public places and laneways of Byron Bay town centre sparked over 200 phone enquiries. Ultimately from 30 submissions 7 projects received seed funding support this year.

Council’s $60,000 investment in creative seeds has generated an estimated $400,000 in on-ground value through project sponsorships, volunteers and in-kind support.

Another recent success has been the launch of ‘Conferencing Byron’ which is a collaborative project initiated by a core group of Byron visitor economy stakeholders to relaunch Byron as a destination capable of hosting larger scale conferences (national and international). This landmark action and significant employment generating activation is funded by Destination NSW and Byron visitor industry partners.

“The transformative opportunity from this investment alone is very powerful globally for the Byron brand and our consistent work in keeping the balance across the visitor landscape”, continues Jane.

Add Making Things Happen, an initiative which creates opportunity for ethical investment in Byron’s communities through volunteerism, and possibilities for community driven investment in projects, sponsorships and programs to the mix and you really do get an unmistakeable sense that Byron has quietly looked within, found a beating heart bigger than most, clicked onto the concept that together is better than solo and has set a new benchmark, making resilience the new must have.

Where to next? You might be asking. Timed to perfection is the launch of Enterprising Byron 2025, a straight talking, jobs focused plan that looks to extend the reach of Byron’s existing economic drivers. This brand new Plan has already attracted support and is the catalyst for the delivery of the first flagship project – the Byron BR+E.

“Our Council is investing in local people and projects, not as a funder but as a partnership. That simple change has made a world of difference, 2016 marked the start of something genuinely limitless and 2017 will see us consolidating this trend. We think this is something every business can gain advantage of and be part of as a leader and collaborator”.

2016 Business Successes:

  • Byron Bay and Hinterland is awarded Most Outstanding Food Region by Delicious Magazine
  • Byron business Spell wins 2016 Telstra Australian Business of the Year Award and 2016 Telstra Australian Small Business Award
  • Byron Bay Eco Cruises & Kayaks, Gold Award in NSW Tourism Awards for Ecotourism
  • Arakwal Dolphin Dreaming, Silver Award in NSW Tourism Awards for Excellence in Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Tourism
  • TEACH at Wollongbar TAFE, Gold Award in NSW Tourism Awards for Tourism Education & Training
  • Byron Bay Bluesfest, Gold Award in NSW Tourism Awards for Major Festivals and Events
  • Flow Hive wins 2016 Australian Good Design Award of the Year
  • Enova launches Australia’s first community owned energy company in Byron Bay
  • Cameron Arnold – Outstanding Contribution by an Individual to State Tourism
  • Lets go surfing – 2016 Winner Tourism & Travel, TripAdvisor
  • Stone & Wood NSW Business Chamber (Northern Rivers) – 2016 Business of the Year
  • Elements of Byron – Best Hotel Design at the Society of British Interior Design International Design Awards (a big congratulations to local artists who also contributed).
  • Brookfarm – NSW Government’s Green Globe Award for Small Business Sustainability and a swath of Royal Agricultural Society Awards from Hobart to Sydney

2016 ED Project Successes:

  • Byron Town Centre Masterplan completed and wins the AILA Award of Excellence and the RH Dougherty Award for Excellence in Communication and Engagement
  • The inaugural Byron Bay Town Centre Placemaking Seed Fund launched with 7 local creative enterprises
  • Making Things Happen community investment program launched
  • The Byron BR+E (Business Retention and Expansion Project) receives funding support from Council and Shire Chambers of Commerce
  • Byron visitor economy partnership successful in attracting funding from Destination NSW’s Regional Visitor Economy Fund to deliver ‘Conferencing Byron’ – Phase 1 Attraction Accelerator’
  • Byron and Ballina Councils work together to win and co-host the 2016 Local Government NSW Tourism Conference
  • Byron Regional Food Advantage Project secures funding from the NSW Department of Industry to promote the food sector capability for supply into the 2018 Commonwealth Games
  • Council and industry led Technology Taskforce secures NBN roll out for first quarter 2017

Byron villages grow great talent

They say you should take time to smell the roses, and we agree. It’s along these same lines that we encourage Northern Rivers locals and our many many visitors to also take time to explore our amazing region. There are so many treasures to be found, amazing people to talk to and a way of life that truly inspires. In this little piece we are putting the spotlight on two local businesses that certainly help our Byron villages to shine. Hope you enjoy.

Dirty Old Town Furniture

Byron Bay Dirty Town

Dirty Old Town Furniture in Eureka is a creative family enterprise that designs and hand makes beautiful, sustainable and character-filled furniture from carefully sourced rare and reclaimed timbers. We spoke to Johnny, a treasure himself, who with his wife Helene came to the Northern Rivers 17 years ago. “We love Eureka, the rain, the rocks and the people. We all know each other here and we have a great sense of community. We wanted the space and connection to nature for our children to grow up in and they have really thrived.”

It’s not hard to see why this creative family business is becoming renowned for quality and innovation – on a national scale. Johnny places integrity at the heart of everything they do. His early foray into the trades and being able to see what is possible, when many others would walk right past it, has led to realising his passion and dreams. “You can be creative and do work that makes you happy. It’s enough for me to see the result and say ‘I did that’.

Byron bay Dirty Old Town Furniture

Sustainability is another core ingredient to the DOT success. They make their own oils and even the nuts and bolts used in the furniture are made on-farm, this is a no waste approach to good business and it’s a genuine value proposition. “Our place, Eureka, is an inspiration for creatives like us but we are also inspired by the traditional creatives, the farmers who innovate – with the old school ways where if you don’t have it, you make it and you make do.”

To learn more about Dirty Old Town and be inspired go to Imagine a start up business being thought of as ‘a love child’, well that is exactly how Amanda and Andrew feel about their creative enterprise,

Church Farm General Store in Billinudgel.

Don’t be fooled however, this is an online store – so you don’t walk into the store you get there via the web. Even so, it’s still one of those places that when you arrive you feel transported to another time. Your heart rate slows, your mind eases and your senses are captivated (via your imagination). Amanda and her husband Andrew with their two little boys Banjo and Percy have used their passion for growing, cooking and making to bring the best of local ingredients to life in homegrown produce and gourmet soaps.

Church Farm General Store in Billinudgel.

“We have a ‘go with the flow’ approach, but we do stick to our guns when it comes to using the freshest produce and not cutting corners with how things are made.” Church Farm was a come by chance purchase just over 5 years ago when the duo were driving through Billinudgel and spotted this quaint church on a half-acre block. It was for sale and they fell in love with it. “The whole journey has been a fluke really, Andrew started making sauces for friends and more friends and then we were approached by shops and distributors. When we combine the online business, the Farmers Markets and our roadside stall, it’s even a shock to us how fast things have taken off.”

Amanda and Andrew make all of the Church Farm products including sauces, preserves, soaps, curry pastes by hand, with produce they grow in their own front yard or source from their local farmer buddies. They have embraced a slow food and slow make approach to ensure the true quality and natural substance to their products is maintained. “Andrew has some secret techniques for his special sauces, smoking over coals with lemon myrtle leaves and ensuring integrity and flavour.”

There are plans for growth in 2017 and as you would expect with the ethos of this homegrown enterprise it will all be through keeping things local and investing time in quality making.

To find out more and transport yourself back to when things looked good and tasted even better visit –

Read Resilient Byron (page2)

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