After five years of planning â€“ appearing to involve much bickering â€“ the new Griffin Centre is officially open.
On Saturday the whole centre was open for anyone interested or plain old stickybeaks to have a nose around and see whatâ€™s there and what their new facilities are like. There were also several groups of entertainers around the place, including a town crier, a bunch of drummers out the front and the Canberra City Band.
Despite appearances this is Canberra’s town crier, not a pirate.
The group of drummers entertaining crowds outside the new Griffin Centre.
At 2pm the centre was officially opened with speeches by Ngunnawal elder Agnes Oâ€™Shea, the president of the Griffin Centre council, a representative from developer Queensland Investments Commission and Jon Stanhope. Also attending the opening were Simon Corbell, John Hargeaves, Wayne Berry, Deb Foskey, Mary Porter and Karin MacDonald (good to see these last two doing something, although I donâ€™t know what they look like to have recognised them).
L-R Sleepy guy, Wayne Berry, the elusive Mary Porter (or so I’m told), Jon Stanhope examining his manicure, John Hargreaves and Simon Corbell who, it would seem, doesn’t dress up on weekends.
The new building incorporates meeting rooms, a general-purpose hall (where the opening was held), a kitchen and cafÃ© as well as the shopfronts and offices of many community organisations. It does not however have any proper bike parking â€“ a true achievement for a building that houses Pedal Power.
A lack of organised parking areas for bicycles is noticeable out the front.
The Griffin Centre has been part of the Canberra community for about 40 years (there was some disagreement as to whether it opened in 1964 or 66). During its time it has been home to a multitude of community organisations, including Canberraâ€™s first Aboriginal health centre, stamp collectors, the ACT Nudist Club, a cross-country ski association, the Canberra Unidentified Flying Objects Research Society and a soup kitchen.
The directory of who’s where in the new building
President of the Griffin Centre council Paul Gamme (sp?) mentioned that it has not all been â€œplain sailingâ€ to move the various community groups from one home to another. He emphasised they were all very happy to have new premises, but did mention there have been some teething problems, in particular with after hours access and security.
Mr Stanhope talked about the history of the centre, in particular mentioning that on Saturday mornings in the 1970s the building rang with the music of string groups and the training orchestra â€“ a topic close to my heart because they went on to become the Canberra Youth Orchestra Society and then Canberra Youth Music and I too spent many Saturday mornings making music in the Griffin Centre.
A piece of glass with one of the original drawings of the â€˜Pearly Griffinâ€™, the centreâ€™s mascot, was presented to someone (I didnâ€™t work out if it was being presented to the Chief Minister or by him). I suspect this came from one of the doors of the original building because until this week the front room of the new building was full of doors, signs and other bits and pieces rescued from the old building which I believe will be knocked down shortly. Long time readers may remember Mr Stanhopeâ€™s previous association with the Pearly Griffin.
Mr Stanhope also unveiled a plaque commemorating the occasion. As he did so, the Canberra City Band struck up with the national anthem â€“ possibly overkill but then Canberra doesnâ€™t have its own song â€“ and by halfway through the first verse most of the room had worked out what it was and stood.
The Canberra City Band in the centre’s multipurpose hall where the opening was held.