We wrote this on the 501. It was hastily jotted down and transcribed verbatim.
We are past the days of point blank damning ‘gentrification’. The train has well and truly left the station on that count. If carefully managed, the renewal of suburbs can potentially happen in a way that doesn’t necessarily spell doom & gloom for residents. The dire straits of Sydney’s exorbitant housing market seem to continue unabated, & so we may as well set about creating positive, sustainable, vibrant communities, since we’re already paying an arm & a leg to live in the inner city … This is not intended as a neo-liberal embrace of “development & progress” - development needs to be small scale, careful, sustainable, multi-use & made with genuine resident consultation. what we are keen to avoid is large scale monster developments that destroy the existing urban fabric. And we don’t really believe in progress, in the strict modernist sense, just in continuity and transformation. That said, we also want to avoid the nostalgic embrace of urban decay & ruin. Suburbs ignored by their governments are usually in trouble. derelict buildings might look great for photos, & provide useful space for squatters, but too many of vacant buildings / empty shopfronts tends to signal a dead or dying community. There is a hell of a lot of vacant spaces on ground floor levels in Ultimo. Yet Sydney is booming, commercially. Why is this so? Have we created a neighbourhood that is bad for small business? If so, how can we reverse this? How can we bring more foot traffic? Increased retail activity brings energy and jobs to a local area; the “latte invasion” may not always be as clear cut as : yuppies = bad for local communities. Certain kinds of yuppies today tend to like locally grown produce, walking, community centres, bicycles, and markets. Fuck, now we sound like we’re advocating yuppiedom. That wasn’t how this was supposed to sound. But increased business activity, increasing numbers of people walking and consuming in a suburb — none of these things should spell disaster for a formerly run-down, underpopulated post-industrial suburb.