THE COMMONS, BY BROOKE TUNBRIDGE / by Brooke Tunbridge

Inspired by their discovery of a community house in Tallinn, Estonia in 2009, Tim and Caitlin returned home to Newcastle, realising the need for a similar space here. Outside the circles of sport, drinking, cafés and churches, they struggled to find opportunities for Novocastrians to socialise. Fate set the course as Tim and Caitlin ran into a familiar face from the Estonian community house, in the streets of Mayfield, of all places, prompting them to revisit the idea of a community-owned space.

ALL PHOTOS BY BROOKE TUNBRIDGE

ALL PHOTOS BY BROOKE TUNBRIDGE

In 2011, they shared their vision with Miriam and Andy, who also dreamt of a community-owned space in Newcastle. A year later, thanks to a generous partnership formed with Hamilton Wesley Uniting Church, and countless helpful people lending their ideas and skillsets, The Commons came to be.

Speaking with Tim and Catherine (Peps), who joined a little later, they’re incredibly thankful for the church allowing them to use the space, located on Beaumont Street in Hamilton. Since opening, they have revamped the space by moving the café into an area downstairs, allowing space upstairs for the Friday night all-ages gigs, yoga, dance classes, art exhibitions and many more events – held by the people, for the people.  

Ethical. Sustainable. Creative. Inclusive.

The mantra that fills the air in The Commons. These values take form in the open physical space, the fair-trade goods they sell, the colourful characters that visit, those that stay and become the bright-eyed volunteers, and the talent they host.

A safe space where you know you’re welcome. A space that isn’t owned by any one person, but belongs to everyone. A space to eat, drink, connect, share, create, flourish, relax, inspire and learn.

The Commons is more than a community space; it’s a movement that is challenging the dominance of injustice in our world by being the change in the world we want to see happening now.

Their goal is to inspire people. It worked for me. Once I walked through the doors of The Commons I immediately became absorbed in the culture, inspired by the passionate retelling of how The Commons came to be, the ideas behind it and the future of the movement, not just the physical space it resides in.

I had to collect my thoughts after having conversations filled with passion, love, kindness and good intentions. The content and peaceful feeling you get when you see someone doing something nice, when they think no one is watching them, lingered after I left. It’s good to be reminded of this feeling, and more importantly, that this kindness exists. Everyone deserves the chance to be a part of something bigger than themselves, to share their ideas and be in the presence of like-minded people.

The Commons ‘connects communities of care and justice and empowers people to live lives of hope, joy and meaning’.

If you haven’t yet visited, I encourage you to do so. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how welcome and accommodating they are. Enjoy a coffee from their fair-trade café, browse through their ethical bulk goods store, play on the piano or pick a record to play, spread out your work on a table, start a conversation with the commoners, or attend one of their many events.

They will soon be launching a crowdfunding campaign to help raise funds to upgrade the kitchen, enabling them to give back to the community on an even greater scale. If you have anything to provide, whether that be financially or a valuable skillset, be sure to let them know.

Head to their website www.thecommons.org.au to find out more on their events and how you can get involved with volunteering.

Their current opening hours are Tuesday 12-6pm, Friday 9-2pm and Saturday 10-2pm. Find The Commons on Level 1, 150 Beaumont Street, Hamilton.