By TOBY WALKER
SINCE it opened its doors, the South Grafton Community Cottage has come to play an integral part in the lives of those who live around it.
It provides a recreational centre for youth, has internet facilities for those without a computer at home and introduces people to support services where required.
For Peter Cuming, the positive social effects that flow from the cottage into the community enshrines his ideas on how the Clarence Valley should think when it comes to planning for the future.
And it's Mr Cuming's job to think about the Clarence Valley's future.
His business, Sustainable Futures Australia, was last year contracted by the Clarence Valley Council to develop a framework that will ultimately form the basis of council's, and indeed the Clarence Valley's, collective vision for the future.
Mr Cuming, a former Maclean Shire councillor, was in Grafton on Tuesday to present to councillors the draft of that strategic framework.
During his research for the draft, Mr Cuming and a team of 22 council staff pored over documents from 48 major local studies conducted by the four former councils during the last 25 years to help form an idea of the identity of the Clarence Valley as a whole.
During his half-hour presentation, Mr Cuming pointed to council initiatives like the regional water supply scheme and the integrated sewering projects as good examples of plans that have been designed with the future in mind.
And essentially, that is what Mr Cuming's framework will set out to achieve.
It hopes to bind the council's individual projects and plans under an overarching philosophy that will endeavour to help sustain the Clarence Valley's unique identity.