Freo's View

THE IMPACT OF FREMANTLE PLACEMAKING

Posted in city of fremantle, community, local government, Uncategorized by freoview on October 13, 2017

 

There were so many posts on Twitter yesterday about placemaking, that I contemplated overnight what the modern buzzword actually means in the context of local government and a small city like Fremantle.

Placemaking should not be about beautifying small pockets of the city, but should be about awareness of the whole and the reality that everything we do impacts on others, either positively or negatively. That really is the big challenge for local government to deal with.

An event will please many thousands of people, but can negatively impact on local residents or traders, as there will be noise, parking and traffic problems, so while it pleases some it upsets others.

At planning meetings we constantly hear people opposing development next to where they live, with claims of loss of privacy, overshadowing, etc. so whichever way council decide it will upset one of the parties.

Traffic-calming in South Fremantle might please most locals, but it could alter the flow of traffic to the CBD and have a negative impact on traders there. What is the right placemaking decision?

Placemaking is about wholeness, and making good choices for the common good, even if that upsets those with a NIMBY attitude. It requires courage of councillors to make the ‘right’ decisions, because the decisions they’ll make will never be right for everyone in the community. That’s the nature of us human beings that we never all agree on everything.

When I hear election candidates naively state that they will do what the community want, my immediate question is which part of the community do they mean, because there will be opposing views in the community. Councillors will have to vote one way or the other, displeasing those who are opposed to it.

It comes down to how much, and how negatively or how positively decisions we make in life impact on others. Loud parties, noise, dog barking, anti-social behaviour, where we park our car in the street we live, etc. it all impacts on others. So to make the right decisions we need to be considerate and constantly aware that our great personal lifestyle might not be considered so great by our neighbours.

What might be a good event that benefits local traders, could well have a negative impact on those who live nearby, and events can also be detrimental for local traders, so how do we find the right balance of placemaking in local government?

The Australian Hotel Association claimed in a survey they sent to local government election candidates that pop-ups negatively impact on their members, but surely that statement is not true for all pop-up events and for all pubs, restaurants, cafes and bars around Fremantle, because many of them benefit from events, even from markets, as they attract many more people to the area than would normally visit.

Should we embrace multi-storey development in the inner city to boost the local economy, or should we preserve the human-scale character of place, even in the run down east of the CBD that looks desolate and uninviting? What is the right placemaking and balance? You will hear very opposing views about that in the community.

Placemaking for me is about being extremely sensitive and understanding that there is no way in the world we can please everyone, and it is about not being selfish, and learning to acknowledge that the common good has priority over individual needs.

I know that it very difficult to accept when it impacts on one’s own life or business, but it is the only way good placemaking can become good governance, and hopefully council can take the majority of the community with them on the very challenging and delicate journey of progress, revitalisation and modernisation.

It is easy to understand that being a local councillor can be a very thankless task, so one has to admire all who nominated for this election.

VOTE to show you care about your community!

 

Roel Loopers

Vote Roel for City Ward!

TRAFFIC CALMING NOT THAT SIMPLE

Posted in city of fremantle, community, TRAFFIC, Uncategorized by freoview on May 24, 2017

 

I thought at the South Fremantle Precinct meeting at The Local last night how frustrating it sometimes must be to be a City of Fremantle officer and Councillor.

Three CoF officers were invited to talk about the process on the traffic calming of South Terrace and Councillor Andrew Sullivan also attended.

Questions were again raised that had already been addressed at previous community meetings and the process is about two third underway, but I don’t blame anyone for that, as it is often the case that those who attend the first meeting(s) don’t come again, while other do. It is great to see a crowd of around 60 people at a precinct meeting because community involvement is essential for the officers and elected members to make the right decisions.

Underground power is planned but who is going to pay for it. Normally it is around one third Western Power, one third City and one third paid by property owners, but the latter are very reluctant to hand over cash.

Five speed reduction platform nodes were suggested at Douro Road, South Street, Lefroy Road and Charles and Silver streets, but one resident suggested some should be put where there is already more activity such as near Abhi’s and Manna’s.

Widening footpaths to accommodate more street furniture, dedicated bicycle paths and trees all along are also on the cards.

There were concerns from residents of Marine Terrace that traffic calming along South Terrace would increase traffic in their street but as one officer said we can’t solve all problems at once and if there is a knock-on effect we have to deal with that if it happens.

Another resident pointed out that the two streets are very different with South Terrace having more cafes, restaurants, hotels and heritage buildings and hence traffic calming there made more sense than doing it along Marine Terrace.

Illegal parking makes it very difficult and dangerous for local residents to pull out of side streets onto South Terrace and parking officers should try to be more attentive to that problem.

From my own experience driving down South Terrace many times a week is that where there are activity notes motorists will slow down at Abhi’s, the Local Hotel, Lefroy Road and near the South Beach Hotel hospitality hub.

That is also happening in Wray Avenue were traffic slows down near Frank’s and Gallati’s because cars are pulling out, car doors are opened and pedestrians cross.

One of the basic facts of life is that one cannot please everyone and every change will have an impact on different areas, unless we all stop driving cars and hop on public transport or bikes.

Roel Loopers

 

BEAUTIFUL WRAY AVENUE PARKLET

Posted in city of fremantle, community, parklet by freoview on March 14, 2017

 

The long-awaited community parklet at Wray Avenue, designed by Jean-Paul Horre is quite beautiful and will no doubt attract local people.

JPH raised $ 14,000 through crowd-funding and the City of Fremantle matched that dollar for dollar under the One Planet policy.

The big challenge is for the parklet not to become a de-facto alfresco addition for Lenny the Fox cafe, and the designer is aware of that and signs will point that out.

It looks great so well done and even has disabled access, which is very thoughtful!

Roel Loopers

LET’S TALK ABOUT THE NEW FACE OF FREMANTLE

Posted in architecture, buildings, city of fremantle, development by freoview on December 15, 2016

The development boom in Fremantle is positive but it is also a timely reminder that we need to have a discussion in Freo about what sort of development we want because it is too general to say we want to protect the unique heritage character of our city.

There should not be a blanket approach to density, hight, building design, etc. because to have a real positive impact we need to localise planning laws more so that there is more emphasis on the streetscape and specific areas.

Even in the heritage West End there are buildings that should never have been erected and disappointing streetscapes, so we need to have a community debate on how we can avoid ugliness and inappropriate architecture.

I talked to a well-known architect the other day who said he liked the new building on the corner of Pakenham and Bannister streets, while I think it is awfully mediocre. Another architect does not like the new MSC building in Cliff Street, but I love it, so how do we find compromises that are more acceptable to the wider community? Clearly personal taste won’t do.

We often talk only about the hight and human scale of buildings, but we should not generalise there because east of Queen Street a bit of extra height will do no harm in my opinion, while west of it we should not compromise above four storeys. There is no need for extra height in the West End but it is acceptable in the East End, I believe.

The planning requirement of set-back above certain heights can also be counter productive as it often has a negative impact on the design and the cohesion of a building. Set-backs often look like an after thought that does not fit in well with the rest of the building.

Fremantle’s Design Advisory Committee seems to be a bit of a lame duck when one considers some of the buildings approved by the City of Fremantle. The fact that Notre Dame University has been working with the DAC and planning staff for many months, but is still seeking approval for an inappropriate and boring five-storey building on the corner of High and Cliff streets, shows that the process is flawed because UNDA should have been told much earlier that their plans are not acceptable.

I agree that not every building can or should be iconic, but if we are serious about wanting to build heritage of the future buildings in Fremantle we need to do a whole lot better than what we have been doing in the last three years.

There is also a flaw in the percentage for the art scheme when developers can just add art to the new building facade to satisfy that requirement, as we see in Pakenham Street at the Quest Hotel. I don’t believe that was the initial idea for the art scheme, as it should be true public art and not a clever way by developers of avoiding it.

Open-minded and mature debate is needed to decide Fremantle’s future look, so let’s have some public forums in 2017 with architects, city planners and place makers, ideally from outside Freo, so that we don’t hear the same opinions we have already heard before. I would be very interested to hear State Architect Geoff Warne’s thoughts about Fremantle for example.

The community needs to be able to have input on what the new face of Fremantle should look like!

low-impact-development-uk

I put this artist impression from the UK here to show why we need to talk about development in Fremantle. This zero energy affordable residential development is considered low-impact high density there, while I believe it is very high impact. Something like this would be too over powering even on the Knutsford Street CoF depot site.

Roel Loopers

MARKET STREET PIAZZA OPENS TONIGHT

Posted in cappuccino strip, city of fremantle, placemaking, plcemaking by freoview on October 28, 2016

 

The new Fremantle Market Street Piazza behind Gino’s and the Dome will be officially opened this evening at 6 pm by City Ward Councillor Rachel Pemberton.

It will have 400 metres of continuous lights above it, new seating and trees, so go and check it out.

Roel Loopers

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COMMUNITY A PRIORITY FOR NEW CITY DEVELOPMENT

Two interesting articles about city development in the West Australian property section drew my attention this morning.

The first one “Giving residents first priority” is something I have been calling for for many years, as I believe proper community consultation about new development at the earliest possible stage will take a lot of negativity out of the process, and does not force community groups to be reactive when it is often too late, and subsequently being branded as nay-sayers.

The West reports that RobertsDay‘s studio leader Duane Cole said “Developers tapping into  a community’s values and culture should start with genuine collaboration to build trust.”

Duane Cole told the West “…residents needed to be first in the process, not an afterthought.” and I could not agree more with that sentiment.

I do realise that Councils and developers might be reluctant to take this on as often the NIMBY attitude makes collaboration with the community difficult and frustrating, but building resentment by ignoring the wishes of the community is definitely not the way to go.

The second article is by Dr. Anthony Duckworth-Smith of the Australian Urban Design Research Centre in Perth who writes that AUDR has been working with the City of Fremantle to explore ways of finding the right balance for infill.

Duckworth Smith writes in the West that if Fremantle wants to keep its diverse social mix it should be looking at building smaller homes in suburban areas, because in the past two decades the vast majority of new homes in Fremante were four or more bedrooms, although households have become smaller and more diverse.

He warns however that the suitability for small houses is limited and does not cater for those who want to own. a house.

Modified local planning and design guide lines that respect the character of suburban areas could be developed to achieve urban infill the community accepts.

The City of Fremantle is willing to lead to find solutions to fill the gap between single residential and high density apartment buildings, Duckworth-Smith writes.

I believe that good infill in suitable targeted areas is the way forward, not just random infill and higher density because a property becomes available for development. That requires long-term planning and a vision for the ‘burbs’.

It has become quite clear that especially in older character suburbs many residents are against substantial change, infill, high density and medium and high rise buildings. That does not make the task for local and state government any easier. Some people believe the urban sprawl is inevitable to continue the great Australian dream of owning a large house with front and back garden, even when we have limited water supplies and urban sprawl is very expensive because it requires ever expanding roads, rail, power, water and gas to suburbs many tens of kilometres away from the CBD. This of course also causes traffic nightmares during peak hours.

Like with most things in life there are no easy solutions that will please and satisfy everyone, but I believe tough decisions have to be made now because future generations will suffer from the lack of foresight and leadership of our state and local governments.

Roel Loopers

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HOW ARTHUR HEAD CAN BE ACTIVATED WITHOUT CONCERTS

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on October 9, 2015

Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt has been outspoken on why he believes the Arthur Head A Class reserve needs a tavern, and now first a temporary two-year events venue with live outdoor concerts for up to 1,500 or maybe 1,000 patrons, depending on if full Council on Wednesday will accept the changes to the original application.

I lived at Captain’s Lane in one of the old Pilot’s Cottages for about two and a half years and absolutely loved it. I adored the historic feeling of the area, to sit in quiet at night on the veranda and look down at the harbour and see ships coming and going. It was a magnificent experience and so was the interaction with the delightful Crookes family next door. Kids from Lance Holt School played up on the hill, we held bocce nights for the locals, the Fremantle Society held events during the Heritage Festival, on Australia Day, etc. and we looked after the place.

The Captain’s Lane area is lovely. It was delightful to live there and to sit on the veranda and talk to people passing by. The kids from next door and I introduced many foreigners to ‘bush tucker’ lilly pilly, and the few homeless people who walked by came for a chat or yelled goodnight at me through the window. We were the passive and active surveillance of the area. I asked Council to put a proper path down Captain’s Lane so it would make access to the Roundhouse and to the lawn-for weddings more accessible, and they did.

I have suggested to light up the cottages from the front and make them a feature. It would surely not be a huge expense to put four lights below the wall and light it all up. I would love it if disabled people could get into the Roundhouse. I have suggested Council uses the grassed area for events and I have suggested an art market there.

I have asked for years if we could have a ‘stage’ at Little High Street during the Street Art Festival long weekend to encourage people to walk down High Street and discover and enjoy the far West End of town.

Georgie Adeane and I extended the Bathers Beach Sunset Food Markets all along the path from Kidogo Arthouse to J Shed and onto the A Class reserve, we lit up the tunnel beautifully and I have asked Fremantle City to at least put more attractive lights in the tunnel and make it a feature, but it fell on deaf ears. How many people see the lit up cliff face? I thinks it looks great but not many people visit there during the night.

The heritage area deserves more and better attention from the City. I can’t believe there is still no proper wayfinding signage in the area although we have asked for it for years, and that is not acceptable.

The Mayor sits in Council and tells us the area needs activation because nothing is happening at Arthur Head, but the City has failed to do the basic things. Where is the Arthur Head promotion, where is the signage, the lights, the events and a bit of tender love and care for the area?!

Yesterday the Whalers Tunnel was still closed at 9 am! I have alerted the City on numerous occasions that the security company either failed to open the gates, did it far too late and closed the gates too early at night, but who cares. I am just a geriatric nay-saying whinger who should shut up because Brad and his mates know best what’s good for us. Quiet enjoyment of the great historic area is not good enough. It needs to be destroyed by making it into a live outdoor music venue.

Only Councillor Ingrid Waltham got it on Wednesday when she suggested to only approve events for up to 400 people but not the 1500, or now maybe 1000 patrons, ticketed concerts.

We have been banging our heads against the wall for many years to get improvement at Arthur Head but all we’ve got is a few benches, but still no shade structures for tourist to sit under or a water fountain.

The City of Fremantle has failed the area and neglected it, and because they did that they now want to destroy it. They have been giving similar reasons for Pioneer Park. No one uses it so let’s build a multi storey building on it, when all it needs is some creative landscaping, seating and shade structures and a playground near Spare Parts Theatre. But that is just common sense low-hanging fruit placemaking the Mayor no longer seems to want to support, although it was he who brought out David Engwicht on several occasions to preach exactly those solutions.

Arthur Head needs better connectivity and wayfinding and signage all the way from the Esplanade and Fishing Boat Harbour to Victoria Quay and the Maritime Museum. It needs to be included in events. Bathers Beach needs a public toilet and shade structures and so does the grass area next to the Roundhouse.

Make the area a feature and light up the cottages, set standards for the art galleries and insist on professionalism and proper signage instead of some ugly banners hanging off the verandas. They need to be as professional and inviting as the Glen Cowans photography gallery!

There are many many small and inexpensive ways to make the area more attractive and safe that would reduce vandalism, but the City of Fremantle has no eye for detail and only wants to do the big picture stuff.

Roel Loopers

P.S. Those of you who have criticised my very critical and sarcastic article about the Planning Committee session as being disrespectful to Mayor Brad Pettitt should have witnessed how disrespectful the Mayor was to all those who addressed Council and who send in submissions.

Pettitt’s attitude toward Fremantle Society President Henty Farrar and historian and former Councillor John Dowwson was unacceptable, rude and arrogant. He had no right to interrupt Dowson’s address to the members and question if he had even read the agenda item on the Workers Club development. If the Mayor wants respect he needs to treat us with respect, so start earning the respect some still believe you deserve, Brad.

ROEL FOR FREO. Beaconsfield Ward. Truly Independent.

Written and authorised by Roel Loopers of 5 Maxwell Street, Beaconsfield 6162.

REALITY CHECK NEEDED WITH CITY PLANNING

Posted in city of fremantle, planning, state government by freoview on July 29, 2015

The City of Fremantle full Council meeting tonight has many interesting items, such as the Cantonment Hill and Princess May Park masterplans on the agenda, and also the City’s submission to the State Government on the Perth and Peel @ 3.5 Million directions.

There are many people who questioned the need for the Perth and Peel @ 3.5 Million document when the government only launched its Directions 2031 four years ago. That document directed local councils to increase infill-higher density- development near train stations and along transit corridors, without guidance or support on how to do it, so it has achieved very little.

In 2014 the residential development fill in stood at 28% and the Directions 2031 wanted an increase to 47%, but we are not even close to that target in the metropolitan area where it stands at only 30%. Fremantle is one of the highest achievers with a 36% infill rate.

Part of the problem has been that the State Government has simply demanded a fill in increase without  showing local governments how to achieve it and there has been lack of support for integrated planning with State agencies unwilling to increase public transport services to potential infill locations. It’s the chicken and egg thing where local governments want the State to introduce the services before they start infill development while the State expects the development to go ahead without committing to increasing old or implementing new services such as lightrail and or rapid bus transport.

What amazes me about all these plans, ideas and directions is a severe lack of reality at all levels of government and by so called planning experts. On TV yesterday opposition against the extension of a large northern suburb shopping centre was vocal, with overflow parking in residential streets being a problem, so yet another ‘expert’ voiced her opinion that shopping centres should be built near train stations. Ooops! I though State Government wanted mainly residential infill near train stations, so not sure how very large-scale shopping precincts would be incorporated within those plans.

There is also naivety about suggesting shopping centres near train stations as it would be near impossible to do so along the Fremantle to Perth and Armadale line where shopping centres would destroy the older residential suburbs to an unrecognisable mess and severely impact on the character and lifestyle.

Let us look at the practicality of shopping centres near railway stations. Why is it IKEA, BIG W, The GOOD GUYS, HARVEY NORMAN, etc. are not near railway stations but next to large parking areas? Because people will not buy a huge flatscreen TV, new computer, washing machine, etc. and take it home on the train. They want to put it in their car or on the back of the ute and that is why shopping centres near railway stations only could be what we already have; highstreets. Sadly highstreets have lost popularity and people flock to sterile shopping centres instead.

Long and short term city planning needs to receive a severe injection of reality. The naive dreamers and unrealistic placemakers should take a cold shower or direct their creativity toward making surreal art, because city planning needs to be about achievable outcomes.

Roel Loopers

PLACEMAKING AND WAY-FINDING FOR FREMANTLE

Posted in city of fremantle, local government by freoview on June 18, 2015

The big in size Economic Development Strategy draft plan 2015-2020 was a late item presented to the Strategic and General Services Committee of the City of Fremantle last night and I will need to spend more time reading it, but picked up a few things I’ll address now.

Retailers will be delighted that COF intends to spend $ 15,000 on an “Anti-begging strategy” and I hope whatever it is will be done with respect and humanity and a duty of care for those who really need community support.

We will be forking out $ 120,000 on “place activation” I thought place making had left the building many years ago when Freo regularly used to fly in self-proclaimed experts who told us all about lingering nodes and low hanging fruit, and community responsibility where we could make public art out of the hundreds of old bicycle frames we all have in our sheds.

Nothing much happened as far as COF action was concerned and Kings Square was never activated and it took years to get two seats for tourists near the Roundhouse. It was the Glen Cowans Photography Gallery which took the initiative and first put up colourful seats and tables on Arthur Head, and visitors to the historic hill have been keen to use them since.

Also on the agenda, and dare I say finally and very long-overdue, is $ 200,000 on way-finding and signage. The signs in Fremantle are an embarrassment and often confusing. In some areas there are too many signs in other spots, e.g. the Round House, J Shed, Bathers Beach, Maritime Museum there are none or hidden ones. There is also not numbered or coloured way-finding that leads visitors to all the ikonic sites in Fremantle, like tourist routes one sees in the country.

A masterplan for Princess May Park is a very good idea with all the development going on and soon to start in the east of the inner city, where the former Boys School is a jewel in the crown next to the very popular Clancy’s. The park has been under utilised for years and needs a decent facelift with seats and shade structures, and a public artwork or water feature.

To the “West End activation with UNDA” I can only say good luck, because Notre Dame University has shown it is not at all interested in the street level activation they keep signing off on every two years in the useless and not enforceable Memorandum Of Understanding with the City of Fremantle. Very little changes have been made to ‘blinds city’ where we have far too many wooden blinded large windows at street level, instead of active spaces used by the general public. As a big fan of UNDA I am disappointed that the organisations cares so little about their corporate responsibility to help activate the far west end of our city, that resembles a ghost town at night and during the long periods students are not on campus.

Buzz words like place making and lingering and increasing the visitors’ experience have been going around for a long time, but we have had very little action that has made a real impact in that regard, so the community and traders want to see real action and improvement, but we also need to be careful not to over regulate and make public initiative more difficult.

The COF should be very careful with the “Develop public market framework/guidelines be developed’ Markets like the Bathers Beach and Growers Green ones, have been great attractors for Fremantle and should be left alone, because the unfortunate reality has been that when administrators start stuffing around with these kind of initiatives they suck the energy out of it and make things so hard that the fun disappears and those involved just walk away from it and go to other cities that embrace their activities more.

Like all of these long term plans the proof will be in eating the pudding, so let’s wait and see how much will actually be implemented.

Roel Loopers

FREEDOM OF CHOICE, NOT FUNDAMENTALISM

Posted in city of fremantle by freoview on September 21, 2014

In an interview about PARK(ing) day on WA Today Fremantle Mayor Brad Pettitt said that the heart of the city should be for people and that parking should be on the periphery. I wonder how many inner city traders agree with that philosophy, that appears to want to make the CBD into a car-free shopping centre.

My problem with some of the sustainability philosophy is that it seems to replace reality. And I am not the only one, as newspapers are full with letters where people complain about the lack of common sense of their local councils.

Sustainability is the new bible for a few, the new religion, and like most religions it attracts righteous zealots who tell us we’ll end up in sustainability hell unless we do what we’re told. These sustainability fundamentalists do not want to hear any arguments because it is their way or the highway. They know what is best for us, so the community will simply have to change their lifestyle and follow the belief of the sustainability church. Forget God, Allah and the reverend Fred Nile, the Lord of sustainability is more powerful than anyone and only his teachings are right and relevant to this new world.

Parking in the inner city? Come off it, people can park on the outskirts and walk into town, or hop on public transport. You want car bays at new residential, office and hotel development? You must be kidding. What’s wrong with hopping on a bike, walking or using trains and busses? (Interesting to note in that regard that the WAPC is considering changing the rules and demanding a minimum number of parking bays at new buildings).

According to the new religion people don’t need to have a car, no matter how old or disabled they are or that they have a family. Everyone should just join the happy sustainability congregation that is more concerned about the environment tomorrow than the people today. In CUSP they believe.

It does not matter to them that what Freo’s 30,000 residents do is less than a drop of water in all the earth’s oceans and that the real environmental efforts should be coming from the powerful industrial and over-populated nations. Stick that argument in a plastic back to take home. Oh, I forgot, you are no longer allowed to use plastic bags in good old Freo, or should that be renamed Sustainability Heaven. Time to stop plastic bottles as well, as a US city just implemented?

We are dealing with a PR spin machine that doesn’t like green, but it loves a good bit of bitumen and concrete. They replace public green open spaces with vertical hanging gardens, so unless your children are monkeys they really have no grass to play on. They plan for high-density buildings but not for public spaces. They want more people to live and work in the CBD, but don’t plan for relaxation, lingering nodes, playgrounds, picnic and BBQ spots, and grass to kick a footy on.

But hey, that’s progress and economic development for you, because all those people deprived of inner city car bays will spend a lot more time walking through the city and that will be good for the economy, because what else can they do but shopping and having lunch.

We must assume that drones will then fly our sustainability-approved, soy latte, free-range, gluten-free, organic, degradable shopping bags to our cars that are parked some kilometres away on the periphery, but that is not something our forward looking council has thought about much yet. And to paraphrase Treasurer Joe Hocking, old and disabled people don’t go out a lot anyway, so why should COF be concerned about their parking needs. As for kids, home detention replaces nature play for  generation ME.

The future of the progressive city of Fremantle will be a lot of irate and unhappy people living in a healthy environment. Freo could become a ghost town for bike-hugging sandal lovers, as shoppers will stay away in droves, but that’s life. One person’s hell is someone else’s heaven. Halleluja and amen, or whatever they say in that new religion.

For the record, I believe that looking after the environment is essential and extremely important. I know that everyone means well, but I can’t stand dogmatism, hence my sarcasm, for which I apologise right now.

The point I am making is that it might be better for my health for me to become a vegetarian and teetotaller and exercise more, but I don’t want anyone to force me to that, and the same applies to all the above. Do not force your lifestyle and belief upon others. Your exorcism will be wasted on me.

Roel Loopers

 

 

 

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