Icing on the Cake, Would you like a rolled gold promise?

Comments (0) Susie Dunn

There seem to be a lot of them around nationally. Let’s go for solid gold ones, rather than a thin coating on a base metal.

This column, of course, is just a series of snapshots of things that come my way. So much on, hard to always be current. Most things really start from the energy of individuals. We’ve tended for a while to be sidetracked, waiting for our local Council to do things. At the end of the day though, it is our community drivers who‘ll initiate change. Council is setting up public brainstorming, and facilitating results is their job. We’ll hopefully celebrate their skills in analysing and delivering what’s possible to all our local communities. 

I love meeting people who really have goals for where they’re going, with whatever skills they have. UNE’s Incubator are hands on pointing into future possibilities – good to see their town/gown interaction with an event at Charlie’s Last Stand. Then, talking with Nathan Hooper-Walker of the new Aurora Café, he absolutely fizzes with knowledge, experience and energy. I’m glad he came home from France to Armidale. NERAM and NECOM Directors, Robert Heather and Russell Bauer, bring new directions, energies and enthusiasms. And UNE’s Professor Mingan Choct invariably brings a wisdom and humour I enjoy immensely. John Johnson, a passionate Armidalian, lives every animated minute, and Deni McKenzie has launched her book, Jewels of New England. 

The opening of the exciting Digital Hub was thought-provoking: TAFE’s had such a good history, it’s to be hoped they can keep one foot on solid ground while using new augmented reality online. An Armidale Business Chamber breakfast talk from Dr. Chris Parker, Director of the newly located APVMA, spoke candidly of managing disruption and change, making a good case for relocation here. And it was good to see agriculture students from local high schools learning regenerative farming principles. There’s been a steady awareness in rural Australia that farming had to change – most farmers know the need to sustain the planet and their own viability. It’s the “cowboys” who blow holes in what nature and commonsense tell us – and give urban Australians wrong ideas. 

Many with skills find themselves here because of their partners – we should tap their experience. Some are identified as being over-qualified. Let’s lift our game and profit by integrating them! We seem to constantly hire outside consultants. Council recently ran a Tourism Strategy event. Good idea, but at the end of the day the SWOT analysis had everything on the whiteboard that I’d seen on multiple whiteboards before. Our problem is that focusing on one drawcard e.g. the gorges, gives a distorted overall view. I hope they come up with a totally new approach and a “hook” summing up our exciting package. I personally don’t think we should join other groups. Let’s spend our money differentiating ourselves and make a splash! 

Armidale city and the region wait impatiently for a credible plan to revitalise the Central Mall – soon. This has to be easily do-able and reverse the current depressing centre – it’s morale destroying for residents, businesses and tourists. Underlying problems must be addressed, with rents a growing discussion point throughout Australia. Council response to recent proposals for the Creeklands could also mark a turnaround in recognition for the city and enjoyment for its people and visitors. The Locally Made & Played music around the Mall was great – should be one for each season.

Once Australians prided themselves on a healthy scepticism – then overnight privacy was finished and the world abandoned itself to giving all its details to an avid market targeting us. Some scary. I must admit I like to be in control of my details – but that’s probably dated. Now we’ve let sport change from what we see locally to commercialised “personalities”, tv ratings, couch viewers, gambling corruption, and out-of-touch athletes with unsporting decisions. And from coverage of the Commonwealth Games you’d think there were only Australians there. Not sporting.  

We are so lucky here.

Susie Dunn.

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