Dear Beagle Editor, Where is our local identity?
A stranger to the town was recently asked her memories of visiting and came up with this iconic sea-side town experience: ‘turning left after the bridge, stopping near the bridge to buy fish and chips, then walking across the road to eat it in the park, with the seagulls standing by, and the Bay spread out in front.’
Yet we are met with strip mall rear-ends and multi-national businesses – is this really us??? Retail and fast food? Where is our local identity?
Surely our ‘First experience’ area could reflect the community, not some generic, superficial pattern. It could invite people to move into the community and its lifestyle, not pass through it.
In every community discussion the primary value has been the environment and our ability to engage with it in a leisurely and accessible, low-cost way has been paramount.
Can we continue to ignore that?
Our council are our elected people to fulfil the community wishes and vision. Various policies to reflect the direction of this Council and Community are in draft or preparation stage. We, as a community, need to be aware of their content and the implications of these.
We have some choices – let’s make good ones for our grandchildren, not just our present pockets or to copycat strip malls elsewhere.
cheers Sue M Editors Note:you are encouraged to read the Batemans Bay Vision and Growth Project article of which the above letter responds to in part. Dr Mackenzie has been presenting Harnessing the wisdom of the Elders course for the U3A this term. The course has focussed on: - the participants experiences of what successful (and not so successful) communities look like - how the council presents our community to itself- through their broadsheet and ‘Our Story’ demographic booklet - how we are presented to strangers/tourists – through Tourist brochures and local magazines - what is our uniqueness and how can we preserve and show value for that - input from the Deputy Mayor and a visitor to the area with fond memories of it. During that course it became clear that the participants felt the spirit and uniqueness of Batemans Bay may be slipping away when commerce is the measure of worth rather than the intrinsics that vitalise a place, and sustain its pride in itself, and commitment to itself. This letter came out of considering the First Experience/ First Image presented to visitors to the town -the back-end of Multi-national stores and a fast food giant – rather than the beauty of the Bay, and engagement with its pristine environment and friendly people.