Photos courtesy Brian Hills [click each to enlarge]
About 400 people gathered this afternoon to share in a process of community affirmation and support following the loss of the Wembley Downs Shopping Centre by fire seven days ago. A short simple ceremony invited each person to hold a rock and to imagine it absorbing sorrow through its heaviness, emanating thanks and memory through its warmth, and issuing hope as the crowd built a cairn under the remaining shopping centre signage. Chris Richards spoke on behalf of the owners expressing appreciation for community support and the desire to rebuild. Pharmacist Henry Gulev, for the tenants, thanked the community for expressions of care and concern. Councillor Elizabeth Re, on behalf of the Mayor and the City of Stirling, assured council assistance in working through the issues related to the rebirth of the site, including community consultation. The crowd, comprising business owners, shop staff, residents and neighbours adjourned to the adjacent church courtyard for refreshments provided by Indiret Singh of IGA, several neighbours and the church. The Rebuild Wembley Downs neighbourhood initiative collected messages and contact details from those wishing to help. Today saw a community rite of passage that led from desolation to expressions of hope.