Ambassadors take our voice to trail

22 August , 2022

This week we stopped to talk to CMRT’s Steve Foskey. Steve’s been involved with CMRT since 2020. Steve’s a Newstead local. He’s also been a premiership centre half back (more than once). More recently, Steve took on the lead for CMRT’s Community Engagement & Events. Steve talked to us about what stepping up for a local social movement means.

So, Steve Foskey, you’ve recently stepped up to revitalise our community ambassadors…Tell us who are they and what do they do?
Our aim is to have a resident from each locality along the proposed rail trail to fill the role of Community Ambassador. The Community Ambassador’s role is to spread the word about CMRT, be an advocate for CMRT, be a Go To person for CMRT matters and to help build support for CMRT’s goals in their community.

Why are community ambassadors so important to what CMRT is doing?
What we’re trying to do is build a community groundswell. We want a world-class trail being constructed within three years. What our community ambassadors can do is help build the bridge. If we can do this across all the communities that the trail traverses then we will have built a groundswell. As Deng Xiaoping once said, “We cross the river by feeling the stones.”

How can those ambassadors help communities along the trail feel more involved in the “quest” for a trail?
Communicating what’s happening is all important. Meeting people and organisations, building networks and partnerships. Encouraging people to get involved; becoming members and volunteers. Getting people along to our events!

What do you look for in a community ambassador?
Firstly, we reckon they should be passionate about getting the rail trail established. Our ambassadors need to be comfortable engaging with people. At the local level it’s all about communication and advocacy, but it’s also about recognising that everyone’s got their own style to get the message through.

How many ambassadors do we have? How many have we added recently?
We currently have nine ambassadors. We’ve added five in the last two months

How are you encouraging them to work together and keep on top of what we’re doing?
We realised that getting together was super important. We got together for a kick off and planning get together in September. Many of us met face-to-face for the first time. We did some brainstorming. We’re also using some online tools and using Slack as a comms and collaboration tool.

Spring is coming and the days are getting longer. What’s planned for “community and events” in next few months?
We’ve got three events in the pipeline. 1) Epicure themed event in Castlemaine, 2) a First Peoples’ event, and 3) a festival in Carisbrook (tentatively for March 2023), plus 4) our 2022 AGM scheduled for November.

Can we build on the success of our Words in Winter appearance? What stood out for you?
The Maryborough Words in Winter event was good fun. 40+ people turned up. They enjoyed themselves and got involved. That’s all good for CMRT. I’m confident we gained supporters for CMRT through the event. We’ll build on that to attract more people to join CMRT’s cause.

What was our big move in 2022?
Our big “move” was securing funding for a feasibility study. That’ll take us into 2023 to complete. So, the challenge for 2023 will be how do we keep the community engaged during that process and the follow-on? What we need to do is to keep people focussed on some milestones. This is a marathon not a sprint. Our next step up is to raise the capital for the next stage. Let’s stay focussed on that.