Susie Dunn – Thinking Of Home From A Distance

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Well, the old saying “gone to hell in a handbasket” (obscure now anyway) seems to be superseded everywhere lately by the sensation of being on full spin in a washing machine!

I’ve had plenty of time for reflection while having a back operation in Sydney, and increasingly seeing the multiple advantages of living where we do. Balancing the pluses and minuses periodically keeps our life accounting up to date. The noise of information on different platforms can get very out of hand and end with us staring at a screen and rather losing the plot if we don’t lift our eyes and engage with the realities of the immediate world around us. And the eyes of the people in front of us.

Being connected though, did remind me of some of the things I was missing: “Tommy” at the Hoskins, events at the Armidale Art Gallery and NERAM, the Opera Australia performance of The Marriage of Figaro at Lazenby with our own children’s choir. I’ve also missed the first meeting of our new Council Arts & Cultural Advisory Committee, which hopefully will bring together the range of talents in our district in ways that enhance them all.

That’s one of the skills our district has to exploit to support the confident health, growth and life of our community, and demonstrate them in ways that ensure we get our rightful share of the national attention and cake. There are lessons from the Olympics about building teams through trust and commitment, accountability and the enjoyment that comes with satisfaction. Remembering that this is the 21st Century!

What a district! Beautiful and productive countryside, attractive townships, still also real communities with a social conscience, excellent sporting facilities and opportunities, a university including a Smart Farm and medical school among its wide range of offerings, an excellent range of schools aiming to give rich educational experiences, first release movies and special international series like the British National Theatre and the Metropolitan Opera, a range of local theatre and musical groups from classic to rock ready to encourage skills and imagination, and, very importantly, ease of access to all town facilities! Literally hellish in large metropolitan centres. The commutes that hospital workers make here in Sydney on choked roads are truly a work/life balance nightmare!

Our retailers and particularly specialty shops do us proud and are to be found in a comfortably manageable area. Our “culture” is made from all of these components and the richer the mix, the stronger the culture.  Council’s Administrator, Dr Tiley, is very conscious of this fact.

It’s a competitive world out there, and we have to make a collaborative effort to tell our story distinctively. I’ve always thought UNE’s campaign “We Can Do This” has been a standout and could now be tweaked. The Census saga shows we need to encourage bright young brains like Adrian Wood’s “Whitehack” that chases the mischievous or dangerous hackers. We want a lot more bright young people fizzing in our broad culture mix. And the Summer Schools used to expose a lot of people to what’s on offer here.

Working together turns a coral polyp into a reef. The Brazilian children carrying young green trees for reforestation as they led the national teams in the Olympic Opening Ceremony was a sweetly encouraging message of hope. There’s a lot to be said for the human touch!

As I lie here at a distance and think of home, it’s good to think “What’s not to like?”

See you all soon. Leaping like a gazelle.
Susie Dunn.

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