Sustainability from a personal perspective.

Read any opinion piece in the media at the moment and they all relate to the upcoming Federal election; fear-not, Earth Care is an election free zone.  I have enjoyed varied feedback on the previous 6 monthly essays and have endeavoured to respond.  One still outstanding is for a piece with a more personal perspective.  So this month I will break from my usual issues based style with something more light-hearted and personal as my antidote to election overload.

Much of my work in sustainability is in facilitating and advocating change; one could be forgiven for thinking this might be in response to dissatisfaction with my current lifestyle.  Nothing could be further from the truth, I have a charmed life and it is a belief that future generations should have the opportunity to enjoy a similar lifestyle which motivates my personal push for change.

I love living in South Fremantle because of the community and interesting people we have.  Where else would you see John whizzing past in his electric ‘hot tub’ while Len, whose family our street is named after, limps down to the shops to do the West crossword each day?  South Fremantle is people sitting outside cafés chatting with friends, it’s the chance encounters with strangers and the conversations one gets into while shopping at Peaches, these all go together to make this a special place.  Each street has its own brand of community, its own brand of sustainability, whether it’s over the fence conversations on gardening in King William Street, sundowners in Walker Street, Lasagne bakeoffs in Lilly Street or Sustainability Fiestas in Hulbert Street, they all add to the rich fabric of South Fremantle and contribute to the uniqueness.  And away from your street there is a host of places to meet up and have a chat, for me it’s a pint at the Dav, for others it’s soup at Manna’s or coffee at La Vespa, Down South and Aubergines.  For more formal conversations and community learning we have the ‘Meeting Place’ playing a vital role in our ‘village’.  A short CAT ride into Fremantle offers family dining, markets and unique entertainment venues such as Kulcha1, Clancy’s or Deckchair.  Of course we also have South Beach with its beauty, character and history; summer would not be the same without starting the day with a swim and ending it watching the sun set over the Indian Ocean.

Across Fremantle this same story plays out, North Fremantle is fiercely protective of their community spirit and their beaches, White Gum Valley exudes a very different and special aura whilst Fremantle’s Garden Suburb, Hilton has its Hilton Harvest community gardens.  These are the essence of sustainability and we need to value them and guard against the onslaught of Growth Economics, wide screen TV and the latest V8.  Future generations living in communities built on friendship, respect and cooperation will have the resilience to withstand the challenges of global warming, suburbs built on possessions and insular lifestyles will be the first to crack and start to resemble scenes from Mad Max2.

Any Political Party with policies that support community resilience, whilst decarbonising our cities and our economy will get my vote!

Published in Fremantle Herald 7th August 2010 

1                  The author is a board member of Kulcha.

2                  Peter Newman.

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