New project deals with loneliness and social isolation in Kelvin Grove

Dealing with loneliness and social isolation at the Kelvin Grove Urban Village is the aim of a new community engagement initiative, Chatty Bench Project.

The project is funded by the Kelvin Grove Urban Village Principal Body Corporate (KGUV PBC) and is a community collaboration between QUT Design Lab, Communify, Village Church and KGUV PBC. It was also supported by Brisbane Housing Company, Queensland Academies Creative Industries (QACI) and La Boite Theatre Company.

PhD candidate Kavita Gonsalves came up with the idea as part of her PhD studies in the QUT Design Lab supervised by Professor Marcus Foth and Dr Glenda Caldwell. Ms Gonsalves said the project was initially designed to engage in both physical and digital placemaking.

“But when the COVID-19 pandemic hit, the entire project was converted into an online delivery mode, involving digital platforms such as Google Classroom, Twine, and Mozilla Hubs Virtual Reality,” Ms Gonsalves said.

“The project produces over a dozen digital stories, written by the subjects, which are geographically tagged and embedded across the Kelvin Grove Urban Village.”

The Chatty Bench Project team meets up online.

From the story of a 13-year-old boy leaving Mongolia to move to Kelvin Grove with his family, to the many stories that include themes of anxiety, domestic violence, the experience of studying at QUT, and racism, the 16 stories aim to give insight into the lives of those living in the area.

“As the residents come from different parts of the world, varying demographics and cultures, the game will involve them in digital storytelling,” Ms Gonsavles said.

“Through the process of intimate storytelling, the residents will become aware of one another’s histories, develop an understanding each other’s backgrounds and help build meaningful connections within the community.”

QUT Registrar Leanne Harvey, who is on the KGUVPBC representing the university, said the Kelvin Grove precinct covered 16ha of land on the former Gona Army Barracks site.

“QUT was there at the beginning of the development of the Kelvin Grove Urban Village – in partnership with the Queensland Government – and we greatly value our urban campus,” Ms Harvey said.

“Having our university nestled in amongst Kelvin Grove Village with its shops, restaurants, residential units, parklands and fitness facilities provides our students with everything they need to enjoy their studies.”

“Along with this, creating a sense of belonging by bringing together the diverse range of people living in our community is vitally important.”

The project will be launched on October 10. For more details, click here

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