Council encourages community to #putoutyourpoetry during COVID-19

Published on 14 September 2020

A child wearing a face mask stands in a rubbish bin with a haiku sticker on it

Haiku poems for #putoutyourpoetry, created by residents during the COVID-19 lockdown, will feature on bright pink stickers on their rubbish bins and the rubbish trucks that service the municipality in a unique community engagement project created by Council.

The project invites residents to write and display haiku poetry on their rubbish bins, and is being conducted in partnership with J.J Richards & Sons Pty Ltd who will prompt and feature some of this artwork on their rubbish trucks as they run their collection service around Yarra Ranges.

With residents severely restricted in both their movements and the activities permitted under the Stage 4 lockdown, the collection of rubbish bins is one way that people can capture their experiences of the pandemic in the form of haiku. This Japanese form of poetry is made up of three lines and captures moments in time, moments of stillness and fleeting observations.

Using a highly visible fleet of rubbish trucks to promote the project, all residents are invited to “have a go” at haiku poetry, express their feelings, become involved in a community project, and have fun in the process.

Some of the these haikus will be displayed on the rubbish trucks, while others have been created by Dandenong Ranges writer Lia Hils and poet Cameron Semmens specifically for the project.

Local poet and writer Lia Hills, involved in the development of the project, has worked with local schools to teach students to express themselves through haiku, to encourage them to participate in the project.

The project will provide a form of art that residents will see when they walk, run or cycle around their neighbourhood, providing an added incentive for them to leave their homes and exercise outdoors.

It is hoped that the project will also create stronger community connection, during a time where we need to be physically distant from our neighbours.

Mr Greg Box, Manager Creative Communities at Yarra Ranges Council said, “Many people will be feeling isolated, lost and anxious at present, experiencing a range of other feelings, and perhaps discovering new things about themselves and the world in which they now find themselves.”

It is important not only that people are given the opportunity to express those feelings, but they are able to do so in an accessible way, and a way which allows those feelings to become part of a ‘universal whole’.”

The fleet of local rubbish trucks, operated by J.J. Richards & Sons, have the advantage of being associated with a friendly service that is accessible and used by all of us. There are no cultural boundaries. This makes it the ideal “vehicle” to promote and to encourage this form of community participation.”

“The impact will be a community-wide sense of connection for our residents with their neighbours and the place they live. This outdoor gallery will also provide those who may not have the skills to engage with an online community, a way to connect with others.”

A video and worksheet to help residents create their haiku are available at

Haiku can be submitted for printing onto stickers on that page. Stickers will be sent to residents along with instructions on how to prepare the surface of the bin and stick them on, in the post. Residents are welcome to donate to Support Act, a charity to help when times are tough for the people who make music, and Yarra Ranges Community recognise that times are very tough for the music industry right now.

#putoutyourpoetry is one element of “Still Life”, a broad reaching cultural project developed by the Yarra Ranges Council Creative Communities department, to creatively explore life during the pandemic from a local perspective.

Mr Box said, “Council is very grateful to J.J. Richards & Sons for embracing this project so enthusiastically and allowing their fleet of rubbish trucks to become colourful cultural billboards on our streets for the next few months.”

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