ABOUT FERMENT COLLABORATE
Steph is a highly professional, community-focussed project manager, facilitator, events manager, and community and cultural development practitioner. His work is highly regarded in rural, Indigenous and urban communities.
Former Creative Director Human Ventures / SpeakOut Limited
Current Managing Director, Welcoming Cities
Ferment Collaborate reminds us that creativity and the agency of storytelling is a vital part of the health and well-being of a community. Love this organisation!
Creative Director, Umbershoot Films
Through the Australian and Northern Territory Government’s Community Recovery Fund Steph created useful high quality culturally appropriate Cyclone Preparedness short films for remote Indigenous communities. Steph’s dedication to working with Yolngu in remote communities and meeting the requirements of the agency was evident in the quality of the project and meeting the grant deadlines.
Department of the Chief Minister, Northern Territory
Thank you very much for the film production – a really fantastic result.
CEO, Bidgerdii Community Health Service
Founded in 2010, Ferment Collaborate (FC) is a creative agency representing the work of Steph Vajda and associates.
I am a creative producer, engagement facilitator, filmmaker, project manager and event producer who works through community arts and cultural development (CACD) and social justice frameworks.
Since 1998 I’ve been involved in a wide range of community-building work: environmental and human rights campaigns; community engagement projects to inform local planning; working with communities to activate public spaces and produce local events and skillshares; managing remote community development programs; coordinating groups of professional artists traveling to remote communities to engage with young people; and making short and documentary films and music videos. This work has taken me around Australia and Sri Lanka to work with a diversity of communities and cultures.
Much of the work featured on this site has been with regional and remote communities, young people, Indigenous people, and with culturally and linguistically diverse groups.
Working with local partners, FC invested 5 years toward creating Venesa Matram (Change), a program supporting community building work in Sri Lanka, where my mother’s family originates.
From 2011 to 2014 we brought together Sri Lankan community workers from diverse backgrounds for an annual, week-long skills and knowledge exchange event.
My work is informed by the intersection of community arts practice, cultural expression and people’s participation in decision making as a space available to planners, educators, cultural facilitators and community workers from which to understand and facilitate change.
Ferment Collaborate is founded on creating spaces for dialogue and creativity that connect people’s cultural activity with decision making and organising processes.
We work with community organisations, activists, all levels of government, businesses and peak bodies to use creative engagement techniques to strengthen local organising and advocacy capacity.
Our focus is on collaborating with people to create great outcomes that demonstrate the value of inclusive communities and cultural diversity.
PEOPLE I COLLABORATE WITH
Wendy Sarkissian brings over 40 years’ experience to planning, design and environmental studies and was educated in Arts, literature, town planning and environmental ethics. She is a planner, author, educator, facilitator and consultant, working primarily in planning and development in Australia and overseas.
Karen Batten operates her own agency, Create Together With Karen Batten, and collaborates with FC on a range of projects. She blends visual art, print and web design using a participatory approach with groups and individuals. This process happens by means of dialogue, workshops and training to facilitate concept creation through to the final product.
Malcolm is a musician and sound engineer who is currently studying Town Planning at the University of Queensland. He has worked on a variety of film and music projects as producer, writer and sound engineer. Malcolm’s interest in social planning, placemaking and urban design, using creative community engagement, fuels his desire to create liveable and socially just communities for people to engage in sustainably healthy lifestyles.
Anthony’s work history includes projects in multimedia (documentary, music video, photography, web design), environmental development, permaculture, renewable energy systems, community development work and the arts. He has facilitated projects with environmental NGO’s, schools, Indigenous groups, elderly people, Traditional healers, former child soldiers and youth groups over the past decade.
Trudy is a facilitator and environmentalist by heart. She finds her niche in alternate systems of education, design and project development. She has been living and working in Asia for the last 9 years, between Thailand, Myanmar and Sri Lanka, supporting organisational development and youth initiatives, and actively contributing to the sustainability movement.
PRINCIPLES: HOW I WORK
Understanding the wider context of where work happens is essential to creating outcomes that can make change happen. We always need to understand, as best we can, how local cultures and contexts effect the way we design and implement our work and how that locates with the local built and natural environments.
Culturally appropriate approaches to how we carry out our work provide a tangible basis for encouraging people to participate, share their knowledge and stories, engage with each other, build trust and awareness and become more active in community projects and decision making.
Each one teach one
Each step of our work involves creating opportunities for training, skill sharing and mentoring, particularly focusing on how we can support people to teach, mentor and train others in the community toward building stronger networks and local capacity.
We like think about empowerment as a tangible outcome of people feeling respected, accepted and included. Empowered people are able to use voice, influence and action to positively effect their life and those around them, including at a community level. We create spaces where people connect and learn and where they can empower each other.
Our approach to projects comes from understanding the need to include all voices, human and otherwise, in conversations that guide the way communities, organisations and projects are planned, managed and celebrated. This extends to including Environmental voice in how we work, minimising impact and waste and contributing positively to local landscapes.
We recognise that communities and organisations have stregnths that make them what they are. We build upon that foundation to strengthen local capacity to engage with complex problems and opportunities and to design and test appropriate solutions.