The Blue Tree Project – Starting Conversations
Conversations are important to us. Sometimes the most important conversations are the conversations that should have been had. The Blue Tree Project on the Shoalhaven Central Uniting Church (SCUC) – Nowra property in the Nowra CBD, is designed to be a conversation starter.
The Blue Tree project was initiated in Western Australia after a young man did not have a life-giving meaningful conversation and took his own life in 2018. His sister began this project and across Australia dead trees were painted blue as beacons of hope and conversation starters.
The Nowra project came about as a result of a number of conversations. The Shoalhaven Suicide Prevention Awareness Network’s (SSPAN) Chairperson Bruce Murphy, Mental Health expert Wendi Hobbs and Educator Fiona Stasiukynas all had such meaningful conversations and wanted a dead tree in a public space, painting it blue and raise public awareness of the need to have these difficult conversations
‘R U OK?’ and even “It’s OK not to be OK’.
A dead tree had been located but because of the continuous rain since March 2022, the particular tree had been unapproachable. Another casual conversation between former teaching colleagues Fiona Stasiukynas and Cathie Cochrane from SCUC-Nowra, resulted in this modified Blue Tree Project.
The Nowra ‘Blue Tree’ is only visible at night, because the living tree has blue solar-powered lights and can be ‘a light shining in the darkness’ and point to mental health resources including Lifeline, Headspace and SSPAN.
Cathie lodged an application for a grant from Illawarra Presbytery, to complete the project and, because all people are valued, SCUC-Nowra Church is able to provide this ‘beacon of hope’ for the whole community and encourage such conversations to begin.
Thanks to Chris Hobbs who supplied the Cherry Picker and Mick Finch of SchMick Electrical, the logistical genius for supply and installation of the Blue Tree.
Shoalhaven Central Uniting Church – Nowra