Community Projects

The Maryknoll Fire Choir – Windana Drug & Alcohol Recovery

As part of Windana’s Therapeutic Community (TC) at Maryknoll’s residential rehabilitation program, an established choir group the Maryknoll Fire Choir visited the TC for a Tuesday evening performance of gospel, freedom songs and tribally inspirfirechoir-300x300ed music in the beautiful Pete’s Place, known for its ethereal acoustics. Coordinated by Karen McKnight and TC Manager David Thornton, the evening was an experiment, bringing two different tribes together on a wintry night. Mostly retired professionals meeting up with a group of disadvantaged people, would they connect?

From that night it was agreed that the Maryknoll Fire Choir would conduct singing rehearsals at Pete’s Place fortnightly with space for TC residents to have regular experience in a choir. The TC choir made its first public performance at the Australasian Therapeutic Communities Association (ATCA) Conference in November 2016.

The Hero’s Journey for Work – Elwood St Kilda Neighbourhood Learning Centre

The Hero’s Journey is a practical and holistic motivational framework that can be applied to job search, to recovery programs or to any form of self-development to give direction, support and inspiration in challenging times.  Drawing on the work of Joseph Campbell, American scholar and academic, these workshops embark on an exploration of myth, film and literature to reveal the qualities of The Hero and the three stages of The Hero’s Journey as they relate to ourselves, to discovering our life’s work and to setting and achieving meaningful goals. The Hero’s Journey is a call to adventure.  

Bricks and Clicks – the Roomers Blog

Bricks and Clicks – The Roomers Blog began in August, 2015, to give the writers of Roomers Magazine (people with lived experience of rooming houses or supported accommodation in the City of Port Phillip) a forum for blogging, citizen journalism and digital media.  Bricks and Clicks is also part of a research project generated by Roomers Editer, Philippa Armstrong and Writer, Karen McKnight exploring the notion of whether a digital address can account for a home.

Writing to Publish – Prahran Mission

Flyer for Readings at Heartley's Cafe at Prahran Mission
Flyer artwork featuring Sean K. by Karen McKnight, Dec ’14

This ongoing series of workshops explores creative writing, blogging and citizen journalism and writing for digital media.  Previous workshops have incorporated Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey as well as themes of Home and Belonging.  Selected works were performed at a spoken word event at Hartleys Cafe, Prahran Mission.

Roomers Magazine

Creative Journal entry - Woman with moustache
Creative journaling entry exploring ‘Carnivale’ by Wendy Butler at Roomers workshops, Nov ’14

Roomers Magazine is a community arts project for residents of rooming houses and supported accommodation. Over the past fifteen years Karen has facilitated writing workshops, performances and events for Roomers showcased at the Next Wave Festival, La Mamma Theatre, The Esplanade Hotel, St Kilda and The Art of Difference Festival at Gasworks Artspark.

It’s No Small Thing
Headway Victoria Bouverie Centre

Flyer of Headway book launch
Book launch, ‘It’s No Small Thing’ at Writer’s Centre Victoria, produced by Karen McKnight, April 07

‘The stories in this book were the culmination of a journey which began with the many people who contacted Headway with a story to tell. These were people who wanted to share their pathway to recovery, believing that within that they may be able to light the way for others in similar situations. People told of the fear and loneliness and frustration; and then about the way that they had begun to learn and grow and redefine themselves. The writings in this book are one part of the record of this group. Members honed their writing skills over twelve months, but more than that they were part of a group that supported and encouraged each other in a way that drew out the depth and richness of their own experiences, and highlighted their incredible resilience and courage.’ – Merrilee Cox, Headway Victoria.

Dreaming Of A Good Sleep

– Inner East Community Health Service, Hawthorn

Original Artwork by Prudence Flint

It’s said that mothering is one of the most important jobs a woman will do, but everyone experiences it differently.  This is illustrated in Dreaming Of A Good Sleep – stories of mothering, a book put together by the Inner East Community Health Service, and edited and published by Karen McKnight.  The book has accounts on motherhood by 14 women who have stories to tell about giving birth, post-natal depression, sole parenting, grief and loss.  “These stories, are stories of inner strength.” – Ahna Lundstrom, Project Coordinator.

Darebin Community Health, East Reservoir

Belonging, The Things They Carry

Karen McKnight and writing group members at the Darebin Writers Festival
Karen McKnight and The Blake Street Writers at the launch of The Things They Carry,  Darebin Writers Festival

‘Darebin Community Health promoted storytelling as a way to create understanding between people who have lived such different experiences.  Giving people an opportunity to write their own stories about the things that are important to them, was a further extension of this oral storytelling process.’  – Jackie Mansourian, Community Worker, Darebin Community Health.
The writing workshops born out of these ideas produced two publications and the development of the group into ‘The Blake Street Writers’.  The writers featured in these anthologies are residents of the City of Darebin.

Hello Hello Hello, Is Anybody In There?

City of Booroondara, Crop Outreach Program

These writing workshops produced an anthology of writing entitled, Hello Hello Hello, Is Anybody In There?   Edited and published by Karen, the publication was launched at Mental Heath Week, October ’03.

Art of Difference FestivalGasworks Arts Park

As Literature Coordinator for The Art of Difference Festival at Gasworks Arts Park, Karen sourced and showcased the diversity of disability arts practice in literature and spoken word performance in Melbourne.

Seminar – West Papuan Community Workers, World Vision Australia

This one-day seminar aimed to affirm the traditional practice of telling stories in West Papua, and to demonstrate how these stories can be used as a therapeutic tool and in educative ways, specifically around issues of HIV/AIDS.

Frankston Community ExpressSkillsPlus, Frankston

This project provided training and skills to people who had experienced long-term unemployment, producing five issues of a community magazine plus a website.  Students learned skills in research, desktop publishing, interviewing, writing & editing, administration of project progress, magazine distribution and publication launch.

Mornington Peninsula Environmental CD 
– SkillsPlus, Frankston

Another job skills project for long-term unemployed participants which produced an environmental CD focused on sustainability enterprises with the Morning Peninsula region. Training included research, web design, writing and editing for digital media, administration of project progress, public relations, CD distribution and launch.

Phoenix Flying
– Southern Metropolitan Addiction Consultancy Clinic, Elwood

A series of writing workshops to build confidence and raise self-esteem for people challenged by substance abuse. Selected works were published as Phoenix Flying launched with a spoken word readings at the St Kilda Town Hall.

– Centre For Creative Ministries

imageThe Voice Project and TheYellow House Project were both held at the Drop-in Centre in St Kilda comprising workshops in writing, performance, photography and video for adults with socially isolating disabilities. Collected writings were published in Butterfly, launched as a spoken word event at the St Kilda Town Hall.

The Spirit of St Georges – Centre For Creative Ministries

Writer/Publisher – The Spirit of St George’s, an oral history.

– Essendon Network for Employment and Training

Online Magazine Publishing – this six month project provided job skills training to people experiencing long-term unemployment in Melbourne’s inner north west. In that time, Strider- a community-based web magazine exploring youth issues was developed and produced by the group and launched featuring keynote speakers from the Moonee Valley Council.

WebYarns – 
Flemington Reading and Writing Program

These workshops comprised writing, multi-media and digital storytelling for adults with ESL and adult literacy needs and produced WebYarns – a page on FRWP’s website, showcasing their work.

The Dames of Moonee Ponds Vol 1 & 2 – Moonee Ponds Community Centre

The Dames of Moonee Ponds, vol’s 1& 2 were anthologies of writing produced by Karen McKnight over two years of creative writing workshops.  Contributors were women with ESL and adult literacy needs, all students of the Moonee Ponds Community Centre, Moonee Ponds.

One thought on “Community Projects

  1. Karen, you’ve been a busy woman. Looking forward to reading right through at leisure. In the meantime, I love that illustration of the the lying down pregnant woman. It’s a ‘mistress’/master piece.


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