A blog about Fremantle, urban planning and placemaking by a town planning geek interested in cooking, history, politics and sport.
Tuesday, 21 February 2012
Scheme Amendment 49: Should revitalising Freo be solely about economics?
In 1968, a politician was prepared to look beyond the standard way of measuring success in terms of deficits and GDP figures. He stuck his head out and espoused a different perspective, which I've recounted below. "Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product...if we should judge American by that - counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts Whitman's rifle and Speck's knife, and the television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children. Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages; the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning; neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country; it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile. And it tells us everything about America except why we are proud that we are Americans." - Robert F. Kennedy In the words of Julian Dobson, here was a bold, visionary kind of leadership that looked beyond deficits and GDP figures. I've been thinking about Scheme Amendment 49 and RFK's speech springs to mind for all the wrong reasons. If you listen to the amendments' proponents, its success in revitalising Freo will be measured largely through retail and office space figures as well as achieving primary centre status for Freo (our very own version of 'deficits and GDP figures'). Doesn't this approach to measuring revitalisation surrender Freo's values through the mere accumulation of a bureaucratic category? This approach might be good for measuring where a centre fits into a bureaucratic category but does it take into account everything that which makes living in Freo worthwhile? That's the problem with solely focusing on economics. It isn't authentic and it takes you down a path that you might not want to go down. On the other hand, looking at revitalising Freo from the perspective of what makes a great place to live, socialise and work changes things. It means that we don't have to worry so much about bureaucratic categories. We can focus on creating a unique place that will attract the very best talent and traders along with oodles of potential residents and visitors. That's what some on Council don't get. Build a truly great, authentic place and they truly will come.