WHAT if Murwillumbah's challenges were actually its greatest opportunities?
What if, for example, all those vacant shops in the CBD could be harnessed for another purpose and fruit trees could be grown at the end of a quiet laneway linked to a social enterprise - and quiet back streets could be lined with public art?
"There are all these fantastic ideas out there, but people don't know where to take them," Murwillumbah's Carmen Stewart says.
As consultants in the not-for-profit sector, Ms Stewart and her friend Marlena Sue Basser have launched the Thrive Towns project in a bid to re-imagine the future of the 2484 postcode.
Ms Stewart said the aim of the project was to remove the focus, from the barriers Mur'bah and surrounding villages face, to the opportunities.
The Thrive project will include a series of forums bringing together various interests to share ideas about how to produce a better future.
The first forum on Thursday will ask how the region's strong creative bent can contribute to a thriving future for Murwillumbah and surrounding villages.
Ms Stewart said they were trying to achieve cross-sector partnerships.
"We don't hold the recipe for thriving," she said.
"What we're doing is getting the right people working together.
"You don't have to be an artist or an arts organiser, you just need to have a passion for our town and our region.
"This is the first of many events and workshops that will be held over the next two years."
The pair have discovered that locals are not short of innovative ideas.
The Imagine 2484 Forum will be staged on Tuesday from 9am to noon at the Citadel, 21 Queen St.
More information at thrivetowns.com.au.