A Wheelbarrow Each

In every community, there are people who build ideas into projects that are fruitful. These individuals make big things happen at either a community or national level. They plan the seeds of small ideas in the minds of the many and watch the growth spread like a wheel around the community.

The method of making big projects work successfully is surprisingly simple, yet involves everyone’s participation.

What do they do to make it work? They give their ideas away. That’s right, they let everyone know what the plan involves, give everyone clear instructions on how make a project succeed and let the seeds run wild in every direction.

Last night (Sunday 8th February 2009) I had a series of interesting dreams that led me in the direction of the recent catastrophic fires in Victoria. Actually, the dreams didn’t start there … so let me begin again.

Synopsis of the dream I was having:
A hub is the centre of a wheel. A wheel moves a ‘barrow of remains.
The recent small towns that have burnt to the ground are going to take a LOT of wheelbarrows to move the burnt-remains away. Will they rebuild? Would a single gravestone in the middle of the destroyed town be the better memorial to those that didn’t escape?

Bush Fire Getting Too Close

Donating money to the survivors is one idea that is currently doing the rounds. Various websites have started already, a few national banks have hot-lines through to which to make donations and artists of all types are donating their profits.

I believe the money should come from insurance houses and banks that divvy out a percentage of their billion dollar profits … but a residential level we should be giving our time, energy, and excess materials.

Back to the wheelbarrows.

How much household stuff do you give away each year during hard refuse week? Do you fill the curb outside your home to the maximum capacity? And how much of that trash actually has some monetary value, but you cannot be bothered to sell it because the hassle would cost more than the profit?

Would you be prepared to fill a wheelbarrow with those goods and take them to a community event where you can sell the goods? Or would you simply like to donate it all to someone who really has a use for it right now?

… Imagine that mother whose kitchen and contents burnt to the ground. She is without a toaster, kettle, microwave, oven, refrigerator, stove nor any means of feeding her family tonight.

…. Imagine that father who has to rebuild the family home – without a wheelbarrow, rake, shovel, hammer, saw, ladder nor trailer to cart the remains away.

… Imagine the children, there only clothes is that which they are wearing.
Her Barbie-doll burnt away to arsenic gases, her burning remains starting another fire that destroyed another room in the family home. His metal toys are half melted from the intensity of the flames, his plastic army are drooling mess at the pile of ashes somewhere in the carcass of the family home. Neither have shoes, nor will see clean water for a few days. Some have lost parents, some their entire families.

… And there are those families wiped out, the flames taking over the homes before escape was realised.
That which is salvaged barely fits into a wheelbarrow. A wheelbarrow. A lifetime of memories filled into a bucket on wheels. Now a street-family, they await government and community hand-outs. They’ll sleep in a tent tonight, relishing the single silver blanket and hot soup and bread that local communities can afford to give

For those with an entrepreneurial spirit, you might be already imagining where I am taking this. I hope so, because it is with your help that I plan to take this further.


If every community can get together FIFTY WHEELBARROWS of usable home goods – of all types, for all rooms, for every family, in working condition – we can take this in two different directions:

1. Donate the wheelbarrow load goods from every household to the people of Maryville and Kingslake. Simple as that. I’m quite sure transportation to the people can be arranged quickly and simply. Rudd has said that the Australian Army will be available to help … surely we can hitch a trailer with a freight container of goods to the back of a truck of soldiers out to the people.

2. And this is the option I personally prefer (though that doesn’t necessarily make it the better option):
Sell the contents of the wheelbarrow and donate the profits to the local community.

This second option is that which my mind coagulated from an odd beginning into a meticulously-thought-out plan during my sleep last night, now with a ground-plan, a future, and forms part of my idea to bring the whole community together.

Let me build upon it further.

A wheelbarrow of useful goods that you neither want nor need any longer.
Goods that you could sell at a profit or donate to your neighbour.
Tools that may be past your self-imposed use-by date, yet still function as intended.
Rakes, axes, brooms and shovels with no handle.
Kids toys that are beyond the age-group of your children.
Clothes with holey knees and elbows.
Woollen jumpers that neither fit nor suit. Kitchen utensils that don’t match the current fashion.
The list is endless.

The point is if you can fill a wheelbarrow with all these goods, then you can wheel it to a pre-determined location with other barrows and sell your goods to the general public.

With a dozen runners, all with radio-transmitters, one person could organise this even once a month. Advertising could be done via the internet – or as simple as window-flyers in your local community.

A square or circle pattern in a dirt-field could be easily chalked or chalk-sprayed each month. Numbers would be allocated to each barrow that must arrive before a certain time to be sure of getting a position.

Payment is simple : All your profits and any remaining goods at the end of the day. Contributors get to take home their wheelbarrow, their dignity and the knowledge that they have given a bit of themselves to help their fellow man.

As with every idea, this is a thought in progress. Whilst in my head every detail is outlined and covered, I’m sure others can work out how this would work in their local community.

I like to believe this is possible. I’m quite sure others have thought up other similar ideas. But what I like most about mine is the symbolism. Wheelbarrows of belongings is all some will retrieve from the fire-stricken areas … so let us provide a wheelbarrow load of belongs that will help those trying to move from this Australian tragedy.

I welcome your progressions from this beginning. I’d like this idea to go State-wide if not National. Maybe global. I am one of many who want to help somehow. Will you send this idea onwards?


6 thoughts on “A Wheelbarrow Each

  1. Thanks Amanda.
    I notice that http://www.freecycle.org is an american based donation site. Because of where I’d like these goods to end up, this might need to stay Australian at this stage to minimise costs.
    But I welcome any American community to use this idea for any project they are running!

    I’m now asking for input from fellow entrepreneurs who can advise on feasibility and potential workings of such an event.


  2. Great idea Stephen and one I would happily contribute to if I hadn’t taken my last load of unwanted goods to the recycle centre just after Christmas. :(

    I know of plenty of other people living around Melbourne who weren’t affected who are doing just what you have suggested. :)


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