Lismore City News
Saturday, 2 December 2023

Lismore's Living School should progressively re-open in the CBD by the beginning of next year

David Kirkpatrick
Updated August 30 2022 - 2:23pm, first published August 25 2022 - 8:50am

Walled gardens and planting a rainforest in the middle of the CBD, are part of the Lismore Living School's plans to build back better post February's flood.

There are some grand plans for the innovative and independent school, with plans to refurbish its existing Conway Street location and move into the old Spotlight building in Woodlark Street.

The Living School is planning a staged re-opening in Lismore's CBD from early next year.
The Living School is planning a staged re-opening in Lismore's CBD from early next year.

Living School conductor John Stewart says they want to move walls and remove part of the roof to enable this green space to come alive at the old Spotlight site.


"Our focus is to have a campus in the middle of Lismore that really connects with the whole community," he said.

"We don't like keeping people in boxes and behind walls because we know this disengages students.

"So we want to have walled gardens, we want to plant a rainforest with a unique flood mitigation process.

"We want the kids to actually plant the rainforest and for other community enterprises to have engagement as well."

The school, which is currently housed at Southern Cross University, hopes to progressively re-open downtown by the beginning of next year.

But it is a long way back.

Like a lot of businesses in the CBD, the Lismore Living School "lost everything" in February's flood.

"We saw the rain coming. We saw we needed to move," Mr Stewart said.

"We went in Saturday because it was predicted to go beyond previous levels, and we went in Sunday and again moved things higher and thought we had things well under control.

"But these floodwaters were to historical levels and everything was lost."

The pivot to SCU was managed well and Mr Stewart said it was important to get back up and running to give the community and students some routine.

But the Living School remains committed to getting back into CBD and giving back to community.

"We understand there are some fantastic buildings in town that have withstood a lot of floods," Mr Stewart said.

"We want to make sure we pay due respect to our heritage and also to our future.

"We are going to have study centres, learning spaces, creative spaces and facilities that others will be proud of."

While some want to "build back better" in the CBD, Mr Stewart has a different mantra.

"My mantra is choice and allowing people to have a choice," he said.

"Some people want to be there, some people don't.

"We all have some responsibility to be able to mitigate during floods.

"Lismore is like old shoes, it will keep walking, keep moving but will need support."

David Kirkpatrick

I'm a media professional with over 34 years of experience in public relations and journalism, including a decade setting Lismore's news agenda as the editor of The Northern Star. I have proven track record in growing audiences and improving engagement by delivering quality local stories for and about the Lismore community.