Greater Melbourne
City Portrait

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Brick Mint

[verb] That mint, that parsley, that grass that no matter what always finds a way to grow in the cracks of the pavement and bricks.

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A drawing of Mint growing from the concrete, drawn by Sayoa Jodar during a workshop

In September 2023, a group of Melburnians gathered to share stories and pictures of how we experience, inhabit and remember the way that systems come together. From this gathering of scientists, designers, CEOs, cooperative workers, academics and students, brick mint was born.

The value of the Melbourne Doughnut is that it shows a snapshot of the elements that make up our social fabric and the relationships these have with our planetary boundaries. It shows what we often intuitively feel and increasingly ‘know’ about how these elements interact, like our health is connected to safe and secure income and work, our mobility through our spaces is connected to social equity, our political voice and agency to enact what is important to us are connected to our education. Cutting across the Social Foundations are linkages and mutual interdependencies.

All of these linkages and interdependencies are also linked to our environment, including Melbourne’s contribution to the strain on our planet. The housing sprawl of our hungry city has reduced our foodbowl and our safe habitats for vitally important biodiversity. Our consumption culture, which in part energises our creativity, the culture we hold close, has required an undue amount of material use, and undue extraction from our precious resources.

And yet, these linkages and interdependencies can too often feel abstracted and intellectual.

The question: How do we see ourselves and our day-to-day experiences in the doughnut?

The response:

We see ourselves in the brick mint that pushes through the cracked concrete outside our rental house in Brunswick. Persisting through the pavement, flavouring shared meals of international students who build community in Melbourne, call it home, and enrich the city’s vibrancy.

We see ourselves as we fly home to Melbourne and overlook the new builds popping up in the outskirts of the city, providing vitally important housing and yet often without the supporting connections community and place need to thrive.

We see ourselves in the lanterns in the trees at festival time, hanging for brief evenings illuminating the life-giving natural infrastructure, the lungs of our city working overtime to keep our air clean - a luxury some parts of the city enjoy more than others, and one that the Black Summer fires showed us can be taken away from all of us.

We see ourselves immersed in water, the most embodied way to really ‘be’ in our natural world, and imagining what that might be like to swim in a healthy Birrarung.

We see ourselves in the patterns that we experience that don’t fit into neat frameworks, we see ourselves in the patterns we can’t yet spot but that we trust will emerge, pushing through the concrete to show us once again our resilience and hope.