Icing on the Cake, Is 2019 a watershed year? And can we be The Little Region That Could in 2019?

Comments (0) Susie Dunn

In January, Australia seems to gather itself together again. But this February will see electioneering increasingly dominate our attitudes to the future, as two of them are coming our way – ready or not.

But, everyday life doesn’t stop. We need our local retail growing its viability, capitalising on offering service and informed advice – plus immediate inspection of purchases. However “online” may tempt, nothing competes with eye-balling. If you’re one of those rude, short-sighted people who looks in a shop and orders online – that’s not smart. If your local stores disappear, your people-focused community unravels. Good, well-run shops, cafés, restaurants and bars, available when you want them, are integral, as well as agreed strategies between tenants and landlords.

Local Government keeps the wheels turning. But please, ARC, no more consultants, no more whiteboards with the same SWAT analyses. Definitely been there! Instead, more listening to experts here first – particularly those with a fresh ear for future needs and wants, which may be very different. Then action. It’s guaranteed technologies will change constantly. ARC ratepayers await the promised integrated plan – desirably sensible and financially do-able. Basic problems must be recognised and addressed, but let’s hope there’s a “sprinkle of stardust”, underlining our differences from competitors.  In fact, inevitably, it’s individual citizens who create successes, hopefully with governments standing ready to facilitate where able and necessary. I’ve always liked the story The Little Engine That Could. Don’t let’s freeze in time – instead, say, “I can” and push up and over that hill. 

I‘ve great respect for UNE and believe it’s the Little University That Could. Because it’s smaller, regional and currently less noisy than some other universities doesn’t mean it doesn’t perform, and have the capacity to perform, in many acutely important areas. Competition today means sharp-elbowing your way right into the news stream – maybe we’re just too polite.  It’s the squeaky wheel that’ll get the grease on our wheels! And sadly, reading some advertisements, you’d be unaware there’s a lively student scene ON campus! And please – do give us a UNE appropriate presence in Armidale’s CBD, to make a mutually beneficial statement as a University City. Head tenancy in part of the Old Court House would be ideal if/when Adam Marshall finally succeeds in getting that NSW Government tick.

Oiling wheels also applies to our tourism message – generally we’re simply not heard enough outside our region. And, we currently have a State Tourism Minister here, keen and ready to help! It’s for us to initiate. Perhaps we’ve so many different things on the agenda, that any overall message loses focus?

Tremendous changes are beginning as awareness dawns: when England’s fashion brand Burberry admitted in June to burning 28 million pounds’ worth of unsold clothes to “safeguard their brand”, other Houses ‘fessed up as well, underlining the terrible top/down waste in the industry. Cheap clothes clog our garbage dumps. It’s ridiculous. Now I see some of the world’s top tennis players in the Australian Open apparently wore an Adidas range of recycled “ocean plastic” – what’s being described as “circularity” in approach – reaction/action. 

Having written about the U.K’s Marks & Spencers promoting “marinated fake meat”, it happens here. I spoke with the CEO of an Australian company specialising in what he called “protein for flexitarians”. Here we’re in the heart of sheep and cattle country, and obviously these trends require serious attention. Meat is essential to the diet of omnivores, and farmers are increasingly on the front line in ethical, sustainable production. Yes, meat three times a day is off most menus, but during their week most choose to include meat with all its benefits. I don’t see that changing easily, but industry bodies must be super alert with health facts and figures.

Remember, 6th April, 2 – 10pm for Armidale’s inaugural Colour New England Street Arts Festival. This Mall community festival showcasing local talent aims to connect local creative communities with fun for all, finishing with a lightshow. Cuncil is assisting but not running the festival – so hands up, volunteers! (Hayley – 6770 3824).

Susie Dunn.

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