Christmas is a time of reflection and hope and with so much madness going on in the world we need to remain hopeful that we will be able to turn the destruction of the earth and oceans around and that there will be a good future for the next generations.
Humans do have the ability to stand up in adversity and make necessary changes. We have survived natural disasters and wars all over the planet many times and we can do it again if sanity prevails and if our political leaders become true leaders instead of being power hungry egos only interested in winning the next election.
It is shocking to see the destruction of Aleppo and other places of war and the plight of all these innocent people. It violates my heart to see the idiocy of terrorism and attacks on families because some fanatical criminals believe the god they believe in is better than the gods of other people.
But I remain confident about the future because my own experience with people of all different cultures and religions all over the world has shown that the vast majority of people are good and caring people who are willing to embrace and support fellow humans in need.
We cannot give up hope during the tsunami of madness that is happening and that has made 2016 such a challenging year. We cannot blame all Muslims for the actions of a small group of sadistic criminals, as we do not blame all Catholics for those priests who have abused children. Hatred will not solve anything and neither does blaming all for the crimes of some.
We need to learn the lessons of the past and become more responsible in looking after our planet because the environmental destruction is relentless above and below ground. We are suffocating our oceans while destroying our forests, because we want more and more and more, and that is not sustainable.
Innovation technology will help us to become smarter but our relentless consumerism needs to be curtailed because the environment is suffering because of it.
We need more tolerance and less judgment in our world and more acceptance of diversity. Culture, religion and the colour of someone’s skin are not reasons to reject people and we need to assess every individual on its own merits. There are bad apples in every family, in every country, in every race, religion and culture, but we must keep in mind that most people are good and caring.
I love life because I love people. I love the irreverence, the intelligence, the quirkiness and the true warmth of people and I love it that we are all so different but also so much the same. A big black fella in Fitzroy Crossing summed it all up perfectly for me one night when he looked at me and said “Isn’t it amazing brother that we both have red blood and brown shit.”
Have a very Happy Christmas. Smile at and say G’day to a stranger. Believe in yourself and all of us that we can and will create a better future for all where the poor are less poor and the rich a bit less rich. True equality will only happen if we look after each other better.
Fifty artists, 42 city walls and 18 international ‘change makers” will come to Perth for the PUBLIC 2015 symposium that will transform the city.
Large-scale artworks will be created during PUBLIC 2015 that will run from April 10-19. The International symposium will explore the value of creativity in building dynamic spaces and will have international speakers from the arts, architecture, urban planning, technology and philantropy.
This will be very interesting in the light of the just released UWA-Factbase for the Committee of Perth-Fremantle section by Veronica Hudleston.
Hudleston writes that city planning “needs to be on maintaining a unique set of advantages and attributes that attract and retain population.” She also warns that population growth should not happen at all cost, but that we should be planning and developing a desired demographic structure rather than the simplistic pursuit of growth.
Hudleston also mentions that the City of Fremantle already has a relatively higher level of population density and that East Fremantle is one of the highest population densities in the Perth metro area.
While the Perth metro had an increase of population of 29.3 per cent, Fremantle only managed 8.2 per cent in the period from 2001-2011.
I am looking forward to the PUBLIC 2015 sympsosium!
In a surprising move the City of Fremantle’s Special Projects Committee this evening declared the agenda item FREO 2029 TRANSFORMATIONAL MOVES confidential so the only two mature observers in the public gallery, Mark Woodcock and I, had to leave and only Councillor Dave Coggin’s young sons could stay in the public gallery till their mum picked them up.
I do get it that commercially sensitive items are made confidential agenda items and the public banned, but to make a strategic document confidential and exclude the public from hearing the debate about it is not good democracy.
Cynics might think that because the Final Draft document is really nothing else but a wish list from Dreamworld instead of a list of achievable goals, Council wanted to avoid scrutiny, but I’m not a cynic. ; >)
Why am I critical about non-achievable goals in the document? Because most of what has been dreamed up is dependent on other agencies and we all know how much State Government cares about Fremantle and what they have invested in Freo over the last 20 years or so. Zilch!!
Who is responsible for the areas the COF wants to ‘transform’?
KIng Square development-Sirona Capital
Railway Station Forecourt-Public Transport Authority
Police Station/Courthouse/Warders Cottages-Housing Department
Victoria Quay-Fremantle Ports
Fishing Boat Harbour-Marine and Harbours Department
Light rail- no support from Labor and Liberal parties
Fremantle Oval- leased to the Dockers for another 20+ years
So most of the ideas in the Transformational Moves document are dependent on the goodwill and investment of other parties and not within the power of a small local government to do much about. The document is all hoping, wishing and dreaming, but with no tangible and realistic goals and outcomes. That is very disappointing, and similar to the very costly Fremantle Visioning 2029 project that delivered nothing but hyperbole.
I have received many comments from the Fremantle community about the Fremantle Visioning 2029 report and the lack of substance and analysis. The document reads more like an election promo platform and was quite clearly heavily ‘doctored’ by the City of Fremantle, which puts into question the integrity of the whole process. Why pay consultant James Best a fee of reportedly $ 80,000, that no doubt does not include the costs for catering, venue hire and the use of COF staff, but then get Council officers and Elected Members to play with it a bit to create a document that has the appearance of an outcome that is precisely where Council wants to go. Some people would call that spin, or even dishonesty.
My mate and frequent commentator on this blog Paul Loring asked about my ideas, so I have put a very incomplete list together of the things I would like to see happen in Fremantle in the next 5-15 years and some even earlier and faster, so send me your ideas as well. Here are mine:
* Mixed retail, office, residential development at Kings Square and throughout the CBD, not a focus on retail/office accommodation there only. 24/7 activity and observation.
* Creation of flexible, evolving, non-permanent public spaces, parkletts, lingering-nodes, relaxation and play opportunities.
* Integrated approach to traffic calming, development, parking and creation of public spaces.
Traffic calming through visual means, not just speed signs, use of colour, retractable bollards for street closure.
* Movable, multi-use street furniture that can double as building blocks for kids or as dice to play games with.
* Adaptable residential, office and retail spaces with movable walls to create new spaces to allow for office and retail sharing, and for smaller homes where for example the dining room can become the office space during the day.
* Housing for seniors with shared facilities such as bikes, scooters, car, a shared meeting place.
* Changing community meeting events and one-offs, such as the Cappuccino Strip Street Club, including suburbs, not just CBD. More suburban street events like Lasagna festival, Hulbert Street Fiesta, George Street, etc. There should be a street festival in North Freo where MOJO’s is.
* A safe refuge for homeless people to spend the night.
* Make vacant shop windows into artworks.
* Introduce a Freo loyalty phone App where people get notified by WiFi about specials, e.g. come to the ? Café before 9 am to get breakfast and coffee for $ 15.00. Especially on weekdays!
* A Christmas shopping child care Creche where parents can leave children for a few hours.
* Make Freo more visually attractive by changing things more frequently to attract attention.
* Create bicycle parking that doubles at public art. No need for boring cheap-looking frames.
* Build a car park underneath Fremantle Oval.
* Use Fremantle Oval and Fremantle Park for concerts and festivals and take the pressure off the Esplanade.
* Create small green public lingering spaces throughout the city.
* Put a roof over the new busport and the car park along Beach Street and make the roof a public garden.
* Demand from State Government that the City of Fremantle has control over development along the water, e.g. Mews road and that Fremantle Ports hands over non-operational land to the COF for development.
* Make the Fremantle Festival and heritage festivals shorter and more focused. Quantity instead of quality. Festival co-ordinator Alex Marshall always manages to get some outstanding acts, like the fire dance on the Esplanade, the huge dinosaurs, the lovely wall dancing and projections in Leake Street, etc. so concentrate on those exceptional things and forget about the hang-on small stuff that has little or no impact. Two strong festivals weekends over four days is plenty, see Beaufort Street.
* Infrequent ‘spontaneous’ events. The waterslide coming soon is a brilliant idea and good example of what I mean!
* Hold the odd Councill meeting in public parks to attract the community and involve them in local government.
* Set minimum standards at the Bathers Beach Art Precinct to get away from the third-rate, new-age hippy feel and reiky healing signs. Hold an art market there.
* Pop-up parklets help with traffic calming.
I am sure I could come up with another long list of ideas and wishes, but this will do. I have probably forgotten some of the priorities, but those will filter through in future discussions.
The Sunday Times today has a preview of the Perth Future Plan that will be released by the W.A. State Government this week. If Premier Colin Barnett and his cabinet are serious about implementing it they should soon make announcements about State Government departments and agencies moving to Fremantle, since one of the objectives of PFT is the creation of jobs in activity centres such as Fremantle, Joondalup, Midland and Armadale.
The PFT is also about taming the urban sprawl and creating high-density infill along transport corridors like Canning and Stirling highways, but should also include South Street in Fremantle in my opinion. It is estimated that 3,5 million people will live in the Perth metro area by 2040, so higher density makes a lot of sense and is dealing with the reality that the urban sprawl is too expensive and not sustainable.
One of the more interesting aspects the Sunday Times reports is that the Perth Future Plan states that high-rise towers will not be allowed to destroy the fabric of established suburbs. I reckon the people in Subiaco would want to ask why a 17 storey tower was approved then for the former markets site at Rokeby Road.