Rossmoyne Street Scarecrow Competition
The Rossmoyne Street residents group came together after Darebin City Council announced its Drive With Your Heart Campaign in 2011. Several separate groups had already been active along the 2.7 kilometre street and were brought together when the council invited residents to organise a street party that would help residents reclaim the street, making it less a traffic corridor and more a living space. A street party was held in June 2012.
One of the key elements that produced ideas for further action was an “ideas box”, which led to a number of planter boxes along the street. Through a series of brainstorming sessions, it was decided that a scarecrow competition would bring a visual element to the street and help slow traffic.
In 2012, the combined group, now known as the Rossmoyne Street Residents Group registered as a Victoria Walks Walkability Action Group.
Number of residents involved
More than 40 residents made scarecrows for their front yards. The competition was announced through a letterbox drop, tied in with the planter box project. People who attended the planter-box making classes were also given scarecrow-making skills, building scarecrows for the planter boxes. They were also encouraged to take straw to make their own scarecrows.
We produced a scarecrow making fact sheet for the Rossmoyne Street Facebook page. As the scarecrows began appearing along the street, there was a rush of interest and the project grew and grew. Some were made by kids, such as little princess scarecrows, and people felt they could let their inner scarecrow out, including a lion scarecrow, a ninja, Star Wars scarecrow, a snorkeling scarecrow, classic scarecrows, even rabbit scarecrows.
Scarecrows helped people let their creativity out, became a talking point for neighbours who had never met before and helped slow traffic in the street. The local mayor said the rate of speeding had been cut by 8 per cent through this and other measures tied to the Drive With Your Heart Campaign.
Attracting media attention
There were several angles that interested the media. The City of Darebin issued the original press release about the scarecrow competition because it was expanding the Drive With Your Heart Campaign. It was immediately followed up by the Local Leader and then the Herald Sun, which sparked interest from Channel 10, SBS, Channel 7, Sunrise,
The Sunday Age, 3AW, ABC radio Adelaide and, later, the Australia Post website. Even more media could have been achieved if the group had been more prepared for the level of interest. A second media release by the Residents group attracted further coverage in the local Leader and on the Australia Post website.
For the media, the news angle was how a residents group was trying to slow traffic by making scarecrows. The story had a natural visual element, an authenticity and spontaneity, there were plenty of people for the media to talk to, plenty of variety and interest in one defined location (ie one street), which meant it was easy for the media to cover. The event was treated as a proper story, with facts, visual interest and a complete story arc.
However, the group did not anticipate so much media interest and wasn’t sufficiently prepared. A ‘media plan’ could be developed for future activities.