Along with 21 other campus departments and organisaitons, the ELRC set up a booth in Eden Grove to feature its community related work. As a core mandate of centre, community engagement is intertwined in its daily work. Not only does the centre do community orientated research that intends to provide solutions to existing problems, it works directly with NGOs, community organisations, student societies and local government to support this work.
Both the Makana Waste Initiative and the Supporting Urban Sustainability (SUS programme represent a collaboration between academia and the community. On both projects, the centre works with the municipality to promote better, more sustainable livelihoods through imparting skills and knowledge, empowering locals and creating solutions to issues of waste pollution.
Local schools are another recipient of the centre’s practically-orientated knowledge and expertise. Eco-Schools is a programme of the Department of Education and the Wildlife Environment Society of South Africa (WESSA), which promotes a holistic, participatory approach to teaching Environmental Education (EE) in schools. The centre helps create resource materials to distribute to schools and trains local teachers to integrate EE into the curriculum.
The centre also supports other community-initiated projects. The Millennium Tree Planting Project (MTTP) was started by local citizens who wanted to celebrate the forthcoming millennium by working with schools and community groups to plant trees. Through the Gold Fields course (previously run by the EESU, now the ELRC) the initiators were supported to develop learning materials for their project. Within days the posters were created at very little cost.
Though the ELRC keeps its head in academia, doing Masters and PhD work, its feet are firmly planted in the community. Community engagement is a focus the ELRC, as it supports local government, schools, NGOs and community organisations for sustainable living -- and it will continue to be a priority, even when Community Engagement Week is through.