Reclaiming Merri - In It for the Long Haul

The Merri Stationeers are just the latest generation of community activists committed to reclaiming and beautifying wasteland and the streets adjacent to the railway in our area.  Residents have been active since the 1960s in planting out stretches of open space that had otherwise been claimed by light industry, such as a steel yard and a timber yard, or left fallow.

The land now known as Merri Common around the early to mid 1950s.
Summer of 1984, 81 Charles Street, looking across the Common - signal box has since disappeared.
Work began in earnest on defining and reclaiming what is now referred to as Merri Common by the Merri Action Group, which formed from a base of around 30 activist residents back in 1986.  The Merri Action Group concentrated efforts on the open land and streetscapes to the east of the train line, achieving significant street beautification outcomes through collaboration with Northcote Council and funded through two Bicentennial Grants in 1988.

Merri Common gets underway in the late 1980s with the Merri Action Group.  These people were terrifying. 
Today the earlier work of the Merri Action Group remains in the small forest of mature trees and landscaped paths seen on the Common today.  While the seemingly inexhaustible Group moved on to establish a Sustainability Street corporation, which enabled widespread solar powered systems and rainwater harvesting at reduced cost to homes in the area, the Merri Stationeers formed in 2009 from a collective of residents from both the east and west side of the train line. The Stationeers focus specifically on railway land, addressing remaining landscaping issues surrounding the Merri Station precinct and provide an organising principle to the many statutory, corporate and government bodies with a stake in the area.  As any gardener can tell you, this work is never finished...

Merri Common in 2010.
Thanks to David Cunnington of the Merri Action Group for the photos and history lessons!