Renee Ingram.

When you meet Renee Ingram, you wish there were more people in the world like her.

Admittedly, I met her only on Zoom this week to flesh out the stories, insights and provocations we think would add the most value to our audience at Urban Greening, but the passion was clear.

This woman is a gift to the sector that is most critical to our future: water. Renee launches into our chat with her views on storm water. Sound dull? It’s anything but.

In Melbourne, the water authority there has a daylighting program, which means digging up the concrete and turning the water course back into a creek.

Renee is working on similar ideas for her patch, which happens to be Western Sydney –probably one of the most exciting but also challenging areas on the development agenda.

Her work includes how to create natural recycling for storm water using wetlands and magical natural plants that are quite ordinary really, but packed with outcomes we’re all desperate for: less industrial scale water processing systems that demand huge energy resources because partly water is so heavy to move around, options for reuse in grasslands or parks or swimming facilities or manufacturing nearby … the list goes on.

Renee has a vision: how we might be able to co-locate water recycling, food growing, circular economy processing of organic waste to create energy. (Solar has its own issues, she says – batteries for a start.)

Maybe getting the giants of supermarket-land aboard with their waste streams; there are such interesting people there – really interesting, she says – and perhaps organising co-located manufacturing.

It’s a vision packed with possibilities. Developers are interested, she says. Who? I ask. Generally though it’s the smaller folk, such as the pet food manufacturers or the snack food company. That’s not to say the larger developers don’t want to do well by the environment and the community, she’s clear to point out. (We think of course, they can see their interests are entirely aligned with good eco/social outcomes).

Renee says local councils are interested but their skills and appetite for change vary. Did you know, for instance, that we do not have a single authority to manage the flood plains of Western Sydney, currently experiencing the latest in a series of deluges? In Renees’ view, you need every piece of the complex planning puzzle – industry development, developer appetite, local policy and community – to come together, all at once, to provide some kind of certainty for our future planning.

It’s a tough insight to hear, but what we need are answers, it’s why we hold these events; to find out where the roadblocks are and where are the people, agencies, or stand out developers who can push those roadblocks out of the way.

At Urban Greening, we need you there to help find the solutions. These events are not an awards ceremony to congratulate the winners and the stars – we hold them to find the answers to the future we want.

Come along and take part in this critical discussion. There was never a more urgent time to do so.

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