Neighbours: Everybody needs good neighbours.
By Jannine Pattison
Just a friendly wave each morning, helps to make a better day!
It may be cheesy, and Neighbours may no longer be on TV, and instead making a comeback as a stage show, but the sentiment still rings true. Good neighbours make for a better neighbourhood, breaking down the barriers that separate us both physically and culturally.
While our vertical village looks nothing like Ramsey St, it was always clear that there was a yearning for better community spirit in Southbank.
One of the drivers in founding Southbank 3006 was the social development of the neighbourhood in which we live, focusing on families and communities and how we live and work together.
The Australian Bureau of Statistics’ census told us how diverse and different Southbank is from much of Melbourne, so we need to capture and thrive on our diversity and difference.
Southbank is more than just 20,000 people thrown together in 1.7 square km to be the most densely populated neighbourhood in Australia.
As people consistently tell us when they join, they are concerned about the liveability of this area. Yes, as we have demonstrated recently, advocacy is important about our built environment but of far greater importance is that we need to create the social fabric to enhance the physical and mental well-being of all who live here, dealing with things well after the developers have moved on.
Unlike planned communities like Docklands or traditional neighbourhoods like East Melbourne, Carlton, or Parkville, there is neither the history nor the local infrastructure to help bring people together.
We see some green shoots of this around coffee spots etc., but Southbank 3006 sees that this needs active stimulation.
We hope that some of the City of Melbourne’s “neighbourhood model” can facilitate some of this but really we, as a community, need to take control of the issue and make it happen if it is to have real and lasting benefits.
Too often residents have seen this as too hard or have been unsupported when they have tried to push local bodies or governments or local agencies to make themselves part of where we live.
Vertical villages are a real challenge as too often there are no good mechanisms for communication. We have buildings where the population is greater than many small towns in Victoria, so Southbank 3006 is working to change the feelings of isolation and lack of connectedness.
What is needed is micro connection with those around us on shared interests and issues. Learning from each other and not waiting for governments etc. to do something. This is very much something that we as residents need to take control of. It is not a matter of advocacy nor is it a matter of waiting for something to be done or whingeing on Facebook.
The challenge rests squarely with us as residents not the council. They can assist us and work with us, but they are no substitute. This is the challenge that Southbank3006 has taken on.
It is why we have been promoting low traffic neighbourhoods and innovating about open space for community gardens to provide space we can “own” and within which we can actively connect not passively sit.
It is proven that good neighbours promote happiness, better mental health and a community with less safety and security issues.
Right from our inception Southbank3006 identified this gap in neighbourhood connection and the social development of our neighbourhood. The lack of services and connection is a gaping hole in 3006. This was demonstrated at our most recent community forum held on Sunday August 28.
People told us how much Southbank residents want to be a part of a neighbourhood that promotes social activities and conversation starters. This was a powerful manifestation of what we knew from our first forum back in March this year.
From this we now have members of Southbank3006 who will be working hard in the coming few months to make social activities such as games nights, cinema clubs, kitchen table conversations, cycle groups and community gardening events a reality in addition to the advocacy work we do for YOU, our members.
This demonstrated that local people don’t need to sit back and wait for the council but rather we can take control to create the family and community we aspire to, breaking down the walls of the vertical villages and creating new connections. A true spirit of participation, a living breathing neighbourhood model owned by the people of Southbank.
Southbank 3006 says thank you to all those who have taken up the challenge to make this a family and community neighbourhood going forward by building an actively connected neighbourhood.
As always, Southbank3006 will be hosting its regular community forum on the last Sunday of September. This month the focus will be on cycling and micro transport. If you have a keen interest in cycling, come along and you may meet your next cycling buddy.
Let’s start to make low traffic neighbourhoods a reality, lets imagine a Southbank free from car “rat runs”, imagine how we can make Kavanagh St a safter place for all by closing it at Power St and taking back road space in Kavanagh for our community so we can meet, cycle, and create community gardens and spaces.
If you share this vision for a new Southbank one that is family and community friendly, then please join us @ southbank3006.com as we continue our work on improving liveability and amenity in Southbank. Membership is free but the benefits to us all working together is immeasurable.
And remember, next door is only a footstep away. •