Thursday, February 16, 2012

Retrofitting the Burbs

I had the chance today to sit in on David Holmgren's Retrofitting the Suburbs for Sustainability at The Wheeler Centre.

It was very timely. Getting into work - a colleague spoke about how crazy the amount of time it took him to commute into the City given that he lived just North/West of the CBD. We had both experienced not being able to board 2 trains/trams simply because we couldn't fit in!!

As I took the tram up Swanston St and compared the volume of foot traffic to when I was studying in the city 10 years ago ... it feels as though it has doubled.

With what David describes as our Energy Descent Future and the subsequent reduced mobility of people and goods - moving either closer to the city or re-locating to a job closer to home is already looking like an appealing option.

At the moment riding my bike is an option - but even along Swanston St - with the new MEGA Tram Stops (no more Trams actually servicing these stops) the bike riders are currently battling with pedestrians and tram, so bridging the South Side of Melbourne has become ever more of a challenge for our warriors on 2 wheels.

But above the doom and gloom David's talk was humorous and engaging. I live in a street very much like the one he described in his talk on 'Aussie St' - a neighbourhood of four houses battling to come to terms with a failing economy and energy crisis. What rang true for me out of this talk - was how much richer in community we can potentially become. Choosing your neighbours wisely in this scenario was critical. I see the 'incremental adaption' that David described already emerging. I run a small business - using recycled material - not only because I love the vintage look - but because having worked for a multi-national fabric company - I know the extent of price exploitation on imported fabrics. I am also aware of the social and environmental impact fabric manufacturing has on our Asian neighbours - where most imported fabrics are sourced. I see the increments becoming leaps and bounds before we know it. Its not only a rather confronting time to be alive - but if you are willing to move out of old habits - its a really very exciting time - to watch and see - can our innovation overcome our fears.