I quickly learnt from mingling with an interesting mix of artists, designers, landscapers and urban developers that it involved a mix of creative vision, of consulting with people and relating to the locals, and enhancing what was already there – in order to improve the feel of community. It’s not about whacking a statue into a town square, as some people may think!
I was lucky enough to be involved with the fun part – the lunch and meeting the Governor of Victoria, David de Kretser. I was impressed with his friendliness, and the feeling of respect he commanded in a humble way.
The sessions on the first day revolved around small communities, a subject I had had a fair bit of experience with, but I’d never considered the advantages and disadvantages from quite so many angles before. John Scott (a proud local of Nathalia) and Simon Jones (a Harrietville local) opened my eyes to what a blessed lifestyle living in a small town can be, and the challenges involved too.
It was reassuring to see so many professionals putting their minds together to champion the cause of small communities and how to better them. As Simon Jones said, “we are the drivers of change”. Urban designing is one of those things where you’re able to positively impact a lot of people by directly impacting their environment.
To be able to change a town, it’s important to understand the way it works, which was something explored in various ways by various speakers. I was inspired and encouraged by the things I listened to and the people I talked to. I feel that the future is in safe hands.